Lately I’ve been looking at some APM-related trends – specifically APM Acquisition Criteria and Behavior — to determine, to some degree, motivates an organization to purchase. I’ve also been reading blogs, reading between the lines of vendor messaging, and of course relying on analyst research; it is this last bit of (relatively) unbiased insight that I’ll emphasize here, using it as a framework to highlight a few key features of the new Dynatrace Data Center Real User Monitoring (DC RUM) 12.4 release.
IT Operations teams remain the primary buyers of APM solutions, even though the trend towards DevOps often means there are other users – including business users. Both IT operations and business users of APM agree that APM is important, even critical; for many apps, APM is more than just a “nice to have”. This is great news for APM vendors – as long as they can meet the expectations, and overcome the objections, of their target audiences.
According to a recent Gartner research note*, there are two dominant reasons enterprises invest in APM solutions; troubleshooting and improving end-user experience (EUE). While the first affords operational efficiency and the second fosters business alignment, both are critical to service-oriented IT, and neither should come as much of a surprise. At the same time, one of the key inhibitors to broad APM adoption is the perceived complexity of the solution itself.
- From an end-user experience perspective, it is clear that measuring EUE is the “best practice” way to judge IT service quality. Measuring EUE helps IT align priorities with business interests, since this is the fundamental metric used for understanding the business impact of poor performance. EUE is also of critical importance as the metric that provides context to infrastructure and application component performance measurements; it helps answer the question “how much should we care?”
- From a troubleshooting perspective, users expect APM solutions to alert in case of problems, to isolate fault domains automatically, and to capture enough diagnostic details so that problems can be assigned to the appropriate domain team with confidence. This helps avoid the proverbial war room (how many blogs have been written on that topic?), reduce the drain on IT resources, and speed MTTR. There’s a corresponding organizational shift here; enterprises are collapsing IT silos and converging operations teams, which demands a unified view of service quality to promote inter-discipline collaboration.
- From an ease-of-use perspective, users increasingly expect instant gratification, Apple-like simplicity, engaging dashboards and intuitive workflows. As IT organizations converge, reliance on a single “tool guru” isn’t practical or effective; for a solution to remain integral, it must be widely usable by different individuals with different roles in the organization.
This high-level summary of key enterprise APM interests sets the stage for an introduction to the new DC RUM release. I’ll touch on a few of the highlights, leaving some others for further discovery on your part. (If you’re a Dynatrace customer, you can view the release notes on the Dynatrace Community.)
APM Acquisition Criteria and Behavior: What’s wanted & why
DC RUM and EUE
DC RUM offers the broadest visibility into EUE in the industry. While most competing solutions are limited (at best) to web page performance via browser instrumentation, or to “indicators” of user experience based on low-level metrics, DC RUM measures actual end-user response times for many application protocols. These include web page performance (without browser instrumentation), SAP, Oracle EBS, Exchange, and RMI-based applications. DC RUM extends EUE monitoring with unique visibility into Citrix and optimized WAN delivery channels, and incorporates both web and non-web synthetic transaction monitoring as well.
New with version 12.4 is the Universal Decode, a script-based framework that allows for the rapid prototyping and delivery of new transaction-oriented analysis modules, broadening DC RUM’s end-user transaction visibility as well as for server-to-server transactions within the data center. Already there are about 10 Universal Decode-based scripts, including Epic, ISO8583, Sun RMI, and Tibco, shared within the DC RUM Community. (Jean-Louis Lormeau blogged on this topic last month.)
DC RUM’s unique ability to “see through” the Citrix ICA delivery channel to understand end-user experience has also been enhanced with the integration of Citrix AppFlow, offering an alternative to DC RUM’s packet-based insight into Citrix published applications and ICA channel usage. This is especially important for environments that implement ICA RC5 encryption.
DC RUM and Troubleshooting
DC RUM delivers fast and automated fault domain isolation (FDI) through sophisticated purpose-built performance and availability analytics, examining end-user response time, tier-level transaction performance, network metrics, baselines and established thresholds. Comprehensive transaction visibility captures transaction parameters and user information that provide the diagnostic details required to assign a problem to the domain owner. The new Universal Decode extends the analytic value of transaction visibility into new environments, while new APIs are available to offer both pre- and post-analyzed metrics and information to external ITOA and dashboarding solutions such as Splunk and ElasticSearch/Logstash/Kibana.
DC RUM’s Data Mining Interface (DMI) is perfectly suited to the new entity search capability, a fast-track approach to troubleshooting when you know only a little bit about the problem. Search for a specific transaction, URL, server, application, location or userid, and DC RUM will instantly tell you what it knows about the performance of the element while identifying all related entities.
DC RUM and Ease of Use
New application-oriented dashboards are easy to access, easy to read, touch-device ready, and suitable for wall screen projection, summarizing all application-specific KPIs on a single screen. Pre-defined and easily customizable application-oriented dashboards – for SAP, web applications, databases, and Citrix environments – are applied automatically, providing the user with business and operational visibility with clear environment-specific context.
Enhanced application and network discovery instantly detects the most active protocols, applications, links and sites, cloud services (such as Google, Office365, SAP Lumina Cloud), VLANs and tunnels, and Citrix-delivered applications. With auto-discovery, DC RUM users can spot deviations from normal usage patterns, uncover unexpected traffic, and verify that “enabler” services, such as those required for Windows domain login, network drive mapping, and name resolution, are operating normally.
New workflows are provided to streamline navigation from dashboard to diagnosis; packaged reports extend contextual drill-down capabilities with flexible filtering and troubleshooting-focused navigation.
With this release we are also announcing the Early Access Program for the new highly scalable AMD (DC RUM’s network probe software), extending the range of monitoring throughput choices to meet the demands of the modern data center.
From the early days of Adlex, through the acquisition by Compuware (over a decade ago!), to the transformation into Dynatrace as a private company, our core DC RUM development team in beautiful Gdansk, Poland continues to grow, innovate, and deliver a true best-of-breed solution, in large part thanks to the feedback from our customers; this new release is a testament to their dedication to your success.
*Survey Analysis: End-User Experience Monitoring is the Critical Dimension for Enterprise APM Customers
25 June 2015 by Cameron Haight