BECU leverages AppDynamics to gain full visibility into its distributed .NET application stack by both development and operations teams

As a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative with more than 934,000 members, BECU is guided by the credit union philosophy of "people helping people." Unlike many financial institutions, they do not issue stock or pay earnings dividends to outside stockholders. Instead, earnings are returned to members in the form of great rates and lower fees. BECU's internal software stack is built and maintained by its engineering team and is powered by Microsoft technologies. BECU uses AppDynamics to monitor its .NET application stack and provide insight to dozens of team members.

Challenges: Lack of visibility, insight, and correlation among large .NET distributed application stack

BECU has had its fair share of challenges with maintaining their large .NET application stack. As it is a credit union, it is imperative to maintain the mission-critical state of its software applications. As the application stack began to grow, it also included within its environment software provided by third-party vendors, causing a distributed environment of both custom and external software. As customers make a request within its environment, multiple application tiers can be required to fulfill that request.

Prior to AppDynamics, BECU's heartbeat for application performance was the feedback that it received from its customers. Once an issue was reported, the operations and development teams were tasked with the painful burden of searching through large amounts of logs from multiple applications points to diagnose application errors and performance setbacks. Sifting through logs to diagnose application issues quickly proved to become an un-scalable approach as traffic and complexity increased.

Solution: Instrumenting both internal and vendor applications for full end-to-end visibility

After qualifying various APM providers, including DynaTrace, the BECU team strategically chose AppDynamics as their unified monitoring platform of choice. Prior to purchasing, during the initial Proof-of-Value, the BECU immediately gained valuable insight into applications flaws that AppDynamics helped expose. Not only were they able to view the performance behavior surrounding their internal application stacks, but they also used AppDynamics to instrument the third-party applications. Taking advantage of the distributed correlation feature of AppDynamics, the BECU team is working on gaining a bird's-eye holistic view of the application topology within their SOA.

 In one particular instance, the BECU team noticed calls incorrectly being executed from the wrong data center. Prior to AppDynamics, this incident had gone undetected and had afflicted the application under the covers without any means of detecting this flaw. The lack of visibility finally caused the BECU team to decide to implement an APM solution across their distributed environment for full end-to-end visibility into their application stack.

Benefits: Increased productivity, decreased application overhead, and adoption among both development and operations teams

The simple-to-use interface of AppDynamics was a principal advantage of driving adoption at BECU within the various groups. Specifically, the engineering and operations teams both use AppDynamics for their specific use-cases. The simple and intuitive interface that AppDynamics provides made it simple for the different teams to use AppDynamics internally for their workflow relevant to their duties in building, maintaining, and deploying their software applications.

 AppDynamics has proven to be a vital asset to the team at BECU. Not only has the team been able to diagnose internal issues, but they've also been able to determine performance slowdown caused by third-party external web services. Specifically, the BECU team used AppDynamics to isolate the exact latency slowdown caused by a Webservice API and used AppDynamics to provide the diagnostic data necessary to help the vendor fix the slowdown on its end.

With AppDynamics, the BECU team has been able to replace its traditional means of diagnosing performance problems by using an APM platform that now monitors its distributed application stack. Further, the BECU team can also avoid having performance problems pushed into production by gaining visibility into application issues before they are released. AppDynamics has helped the BECU regain its productivity, application performance, and business impact by providing a true APM platform via AppDynamics Intelligence.