“The AppDynamics presentation layer blew us away. We were resolving problems in 10 seconds that New Relic couldn’t even find. I know this, because we were running both APM solutions in tandem for a while,” states Sieja.
AppDynamics APM immediately pinpointed a number of issues that spanned multiple infrastructure components. “Right out of the gate, we saw that we didn’t have enough compute capacity on one set of our web servers. Once we fixed that, we could see a networking issue where we were throttling traffic, even though we were running a very low load at the time. We pinpointed the issue to our Internet pipe,” says Sieja.
AppDynamics helps troubleshoot and tune application performance from end to end across sophisticated systems architecture thanks to a unified approach to monitoring using modular components, such as AppDynamics Database Monitoring. Apartments.com’s .NET applications require frequent service calls to its SQL database servers. According to Sieja, “Once we got our web tier front end flying, the AppDynamics database plug-in showed us we were adding several hundred milliseconds of compute time on a single SQL call. With one code tweak, we were able to improve web-page load performance from 500 milliseconds down to 80 milliseconds.”
The intuitive nature of AppDynamics allows even junior personnel to make big contributions.
In one instance, the company’s senior programmer needed key metrics and memory heap-size data collected to optimize application performance. The assignment was given to one of Sieja’s lead engineers and a junior QA technician. “We realized that with the Metric Browser in conjunction with the load test we were running, everything we needed was already in AppDynamics. Our QA technician was able to finish off the project in a little over 15 minutes. This is something that previously would have taken two or three days and required running another load test,” recalls Sieja.
When your company’s revenue is derived from a web-based app, uptime and performance are critical issues. “In one instance, my team deployed a patch for AppFabric middleware that might have taken down our entire site. We were running at 20 percent availability and facing desperate measure. One of developers went into AppDynamics and noticed our AppFabric was out. A developer quickly diagnosed the problem and alerted the systems administrator. The issue was resolved in less than 10 minutes, averting a major overhaul that would have required a service outage of a full hour,” explains Sieja.
Sieja also recalls having a problem with a caching tier-layer piece of the Apartments.com infrastructure, where data in the cache store wasn’t behaving as expected. “Without AppDynamics, we would have to spend multiple man days writing custom logic into our code. With AppDynamics, we had answers in less than 20 minutes.”
Sieja considers himself a heavy user of AppDynamics. “Personally, I use AppDynamics a lot. I use it to monitor activity across both of our data centers, looking at exact response times and page loads. In addition, I can go in and watch end-to-end business transactions. Apartments.com has been running a lot of commercials and AppDynamics helps me gain immediate insight into how deep visitors go into the site and how the site is performing. I can watch activity spike in real-time right after a commercial runs, which is exciting.”
When asked what he likes best about AppDynamics, Sieja couldn’t pinpoint one feature. “I place a lot of value on ease of implementation, but also value of data. AppDynamics delivered in both facets, and we haven't looked back since.”