Is Application Performance Management dying?

Interesting article in Information Week yesterday – What’s killing APM

Some high(low?)lights….

Those experiencing outages on a daily basis went from 8% in 2010 to 10% now, and those experiencing monthly outages went from 24% in 2010 to 27% now.

>>Wow….has this become like the blue screen of death? We’re being educated by the application providers to expect outages in the apps that we use? I don’t accept that. I just think that application infrastructures have become so complex that IT is having a hard time managing them appropriately. They need help!

As app environments become more dynamic and lifecycles for apps shorten, the substantial effort required for APM isn’t worth the already iffy results it provides.

One area where APM tools definitely have let IT pros down is in keeping up with complexity. As apps take a more service-oriented design, the task of setting up an APM tool to give anything close to meaningful information is much harder than it used to be. As one survey respondent put it: “There is a major conundrum related to the real-world use of APM tools. They work quite well in a static infrastructure environment. Unfortunately, current APM tools do not work well in dynamic Web services, and public and private cloud-based infrastructures, since they depend on statically defined relationships. By the time these relationships are defined to the APM tool, they will in all probability be obsolete, thereby negating the value and relevance of the APM tool.”

>>I agree. The vendor community needs to rethink the APM model. Here are some of the issues that traditional APM approaches struggle with:

1. Modern apps have dynamic, indeterminate infrastructures
2. Modern apps are not single language, they are increasingly Polyglot
3. All layers of the “app stack” cannot be instrumented as in the past (think about the network layer in cloud as one simple example)
4. Apps run across multiple providers….time-stamping is often a problem (different providers have different clocks)
5. Application code changes very frequently; multiple times every day in many cases

This is exactly the problem that we are trying to solve at Boundary. Create something so simple to deploy and cost effective that it’s a no-brainer to implement. Something that is real-time (not polling or sampling). Something that does not require a “defined application topology” to operate but instead has a constantly changing topology as the application itself changes. Something that works across Polyglot apps….not just Java or .Net or Ruby (Erlang anyone?)

Some of the differences that we see between traditional and next gen APM….

And finally, nobody should be surprised. Management tools always lag the application infrastructure by several years which creates customer frustration (it’s just a fact of life though….bought my daughter an iPhone5 but cannot find a case for it – same thing).

And, the big vendors are not the ones that step up. They have much slower product cycles and are not in-tune with early adopter customers. Innovation in management will always come from small vendors.

Boundary anyone?

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