Apartments.com was facing ambitious goals. First, this web-based company was redeveloping its entire website writing completely new code that needed to be performance tested and put into production. In addition, the website was expecting up to eight-times more traffic due to aggressive marketing activities. With a critical project of this type, application performance management and rapid issue resolution are essential.
During development, Sieja and his teams realized they had a major capability gap with a key systems management product. The new website was transitioning from purely synchronous calls to heavy use of asynchronous calls. Apartments.com had been using New Relic for their Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solution for the last two years, when they identified a major gap in enterprise-level coverage.“We needed an APM that could track traffic across multiple tiers and the enterprise. In addition, we knew we couldn’t rely on New Relic when the new site went live because it literally couldn’t track any of the calls anymore,” informs Sieja.
Right from the start, Sieja’s team liked what they saw with AppDynamics. “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.
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.
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.”