Limelight Networks chooses AppDynamics for low overhead production monitoring

Limelight Networks Dynamic Site Platform is the premier SaaS Web Content Management (WCM) offering, tightly coupling WCM with website delivery to enable truly affordable dynamic content and website personalization for businesses. Integrating WCM, web delivery and website marketing acceleration across one SaaS platform, Limelight Networks Dynamic Site Platform operates hundreds of business websites and serves thousands of website authors, editors, marketers, producers and developers worldwide.

Challenge: Custom websites required more sophisticated application monitoring

Limelight Networks Dynamic Site Platform allowed customers to create custom full-featured websites via a template-based WCM solution. While some of its users were non-technical, such as marketers and writers, Limelight also had a community of web developers that routinely tested the limits of its full-fledged template language. “We provide the functionality and our customers have full control with potential to put a great deal of load on the application,” said Dave Anderson, Senior Systems Engineer in Limelight's Web Content Management Group. In order to keep Limelight's Content Management Systems and Site Publishing applications running smoothly, Anderson needed visibility into these applications as well as the customer-written code. Anderson and his team frequently used log files, and in extreme cases, debuggers to troubleshoot performance issues, but they found that these tools were not very scalable. Anderson and his team often spent hours, even days, tracking down problems in the application. They needed a solution that would give them insight into their application without degrading its performance.

AppDynamics provided valuable performance data with minimal overhead

Limelight Networks began evaluating application performance management (APM) solutions. “We ran across a competing product at a conference, and the idea of APM piqued our interest,” said Anderson. Limelight Networks evaluated several solutions, but ultimately decided that they either incurred too much overhead or did not provide enough visibility into the application's memory utilization. “For one of the features we really needed, which was memory monitoring, the competitors' products would freeze our app for 3-4 seconds at a time and that is not acceptable in a production environment.” Then Anderson looked at the AppDynamics platform and APM module. “We found that the AppDynamics platform gives us the information we need to solve our problems without the performance impact,” Anderson said. During the AppDynamics platform evaluation, Anderson discovered a memory leak that had been troubling his team for some time. “We used to have to restart servers periodically to avoid running out of memory,” he said. Thanks to the AppDynamics solution, “Our app is now much more stable than before,” he added. Getting started with the AppDynamics solution was fast and easy. “We were up and running with the AppDynamics platform in an hour,” Anderson said. “And we continue to use the solution ongoing, in production, with the same ease of use.”

Full visibility accelerated troubleshooting

Anderson and his team no longer have to spend as much time troubleshooting performance problems. “Before deploying the AppDynamics platform, it would usually take a systems engineer and a developer several hours or days to get to the root of a difficult problem,” Anderson said. “With the AppDynamics platform, when we run into problems like this we usually track them down in less than an hour.” Anderson gained visibility into where external URL calls occurred and which ones were slowing down the performance of his customers' applications.

“We were up and running with the AppDynamics platform in an hour. And we continue to use the solution ongoing, in production, with the same ease of use.”

For example, when a customer was experiencing slow site performance, the AppDynamics solution helped track the source to a third party hosting a large amount of its content where an unresponsive server was causing performance to degrade tremendously, according to Anderson. “Without the AppDynamics solution's ability to trace external calls, we would have required much more time to isolate the problem,” he added. Anderson's favorite feature of the AppDynamics solution is its ability to automatically map an application's topology and visualize how the components communicate. ”We can easily see what is communicating with what, and how everything is connecting together,” he said. “AppDynamics has helped us tremendously in tracking down the remote URL calls that are talking to websites that are either slow or down.” With the AppDynamics platform, Anderson and his team can spend less time troubleshooting applications and more time on other functions of their jobs. “The AppDynamics platform is very, very fast. It gives us so much insight into what's actually going on with the application, from the diagnostic as well as the memory utilization perspective,” Anderson said.