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Deploying APM in the Enterprise | Part 4
The Path of the Rockstar

Deploying APM in the Enterprise. In the last installment we covered how you find, test, and justify purchasing an APM solution. This blog will focus on what to do after you’ve made a purchase and started down the path of deploying your coveted APM tool (ahem, ahem, AppDynamics, ahem). Just clearing my throat, let’s jump right in…

APM RockstarWelcome to Part 4 of my series It’s time for a celebration, time to break out the champagne, time to spike the football and do your end zone dance (easy there Michael Jackson, don’t hurt yourself). All of the hours you spent turning data into meaningful information, dealing with software vendors, writing requirements, testing solutions, documenting your findings, writing business justifications, and generally bending over backwards to ensure that no objection would stand in your way has culminated in management approving your purchase of APM software. Now the real work begins…

The 7 Ps
A co-worker of mine shared some words of wisdom with me a long time ago which have served me well over the years. It’s a little saying called the 7 P’s and goes something like this… Piss Poor Planning Promotes Piss Poor Performance. Deploying and using APM software is not a time for spontaneity or just winging it. If you want to make mistakes and derive little value from the investment you just put your reputation behind then by all mean just jump in with little or no planning. If you want to be a rockstar you need a solid plan for deploying, configuring, verifying, operationalizing, using, and evangelizing your APM tool (ahem, ahem, AppDynamics, ahem). Just clearing my throat again, I think there’s a bug going around ;-P

This blog post is a great general outline for planning your implementation. Everything covered in this post should be part of your planning process and should be considered the bare minimum for APM deployment planning within your organization.

Best Practices
The planning stage is a perfect time to ask your APM vendor for documentation on best practices related to deploying their software. Your vendor (AppDynamics, wink) has seen their software deployed in many situations across many industry verticals. They will have important advice for you on how to make the deployment and operation of their product as successful as possible. Use your vendors depth and breadth of information to your advantage, you’re paying them so it’s the least they can do.

Controller: The Brain, Narf!

The first major decision will be an easy one. You probably already covered this during the evaluation, vendor selection, and negotiation phases but we will recap here. You need to decide if you will host your own controller or use the vendors SaaS environment. In case you don’t already know, a controller is the server component that collects, stores, analyzes, etc… the monitoring data from the agents. Basically the controller is the brains behind the operation. There are many factors that you need to consider when deciding to use a SaaS or On-Premise model and we will not cover them in this post. Your vendor of choice (ahem, ahem, AppDynamics, ahem) will help you decide which option is right for your business circumstances.

SaaS
Easy peasy lemon squeazy! I have just embedded those words in your head for potentially days, weeks or years to come. Sorry about that but it really describes the SaaS option well. You don’t have to get a server racked, VM allocated, disk space configured, solve a Rubiks Cube in 3 minutes or less, or whatever other convoluted deployment process your company may have in order to host your own software. All you really need to do is point your agents at the SaaS controller and you are off and running. Your chosen APM vendor (AppDynamics of course) will handle the server sizing, capacity, maintenance, etc… for you. Nice!

On-Premise

So you’ve decided to host your own controller(s). We have many clients that choose this route for one reason or another and we make every effort to support you just as well as using the SaaS option. In this case we wont be doing all of the work for you so you need to get cracking on your server deployment process. I hope it’s super easy and streamlined and you can have a new host set up and ready to load software in an hour or less. In reality it may take you a few weeks or even months so you need to be familiar with the lead time so that you can appropriately plan the rest of the deployment. You NEED a controller so there is no point in deploying agents without one. Use this lead time to generate the most awesome plan ever!

Agents: Deploying and Configuring
Agents need applications to do anything meaningful so it’s a requirement that you figure out what applications you want (or will be allowed) to monitor. You most likely had at least one problematic yet important application in mind when you started your search for an APM tool. Create a list of the applications that need monitoring and prioritize that list. I personally prefer creating a top 10 list (you could also call it a “next 10” list) that is an equal mix of application I suspect will be difficult to instrument as well as applications I think will be really easy. I do this because you usually don’t work at deploying agents to application components in a serial manner. It’s typically a parallel process where you can jump from one deployment to the next while you are waiting for approvals, personnel, or anything else that gets in your way of doing actual work.

Deploying APM agents should be easy. Add a very small amount of software to the server you want to monitor, reference the agent software in your application configuration and restart your application. It’s basically that easy to deploy an agent. It should also be really easy to configure. In fact, the agent should automatically detect what it needs to monitor and simply just work. This is how AppDynamics works but the same does not hold true for most other APM vendors. Hopefully you saw this when you ran each vendor solution through your POC environment. In the interest of full disclosure I will admit that there are circumstances where NO APM solution can automatically detect your application properly and there is more configuration work to do. This is a problem that every APM vendor has to deal with but thankfully AppDynamics sees this condition with only a very small subset of its customer base. Usually you plug in our agent and we show you what you need to see. It just works!

Awesome, now that we just saved you 80% of the configuration time versus deploying “the other guys” what’s next?

Verification
After you deploy agents (whether it be straight to production or advancing though pre-production environments) and you have used the monitored application a bit, you want to look at the user interface to see if the information contained within looks correct.

  • Look at your application flow map to see if you are missing any application components.
  • Check the business transactions to see if the expected transactions are there and reporting metrics.
  • Do you have end user experience metrics showing up?
  • Do you have transaction snapshots showing your custom code executing in the run time?
  • Send out test alerts to see if they make it to their destination. (Alerting is important so we will cover it in another blog post)

If things don’t look right you need to figure out why. It might be that your application really is different than you thought (we see this quite often), or it could be a problem with the monitoring. Resolve any issues you see before declaring deployment and configuration victory.

Production Load Cannot Be Simulated Exactly!!!
To realize the most value from your APM purchase you MUST run it in production. No matter how good your Quality Engineering team is they cannot code all of the crazy things your users will try to do in production. It can also be very difficult to duplicate your application environment in production. Example, you have 5000 JVMs spread across multiple cloud provider data centers. Replicating that environment would be time consuming and really expensive.

Beyond the technology aspects of running in production you also need to consider your existing processes. Your shiny new APM tool will provide incredible insight into application issues as long as you have it integrated into your processes. Here are some points to consider:

  • Are alerts configured so that they are routed to the proper people?
  • Does the operations center know about the new alerts that will be coming from your new APM product?
  • Is there a process that application owners can follow to request monitoring by your new tool?
  • Is there a process to smoothly and efficiently on-board a new application?
  • Is the APM tool integrated with other corporate systems? (LDAP, Events Aggregations, Business Intelligence, etc…)

What I am trying to say is; Give your company every opportunity to use the hell out of your new tool!

Teach Them Well
Educate and evangelize, this will pay dividends ten fold.

Educate
Create a short training curriculum for anyone who will need to work with your APM tool. You should have training material for basic usage, advanced concepts (memory leaks, policies, dashboard creation, etc…), and operations (alerts/events) training. You need to make sure the people who will touch the product or consume the data have the information they need to be successful. Their success drives your success.

Evangelize
Tell everyone you can about the success you are having with your new tool. Don’t be annoying to the point where people run the other way when they see you coming but make sure they know what you are working on and how much of an impact it is having on the business.
For every problem you solve with your new APM tool take 30 minutes to put together a 3–5 slide presentation. Include the following information on each presentation you create:

  • Problem Description: Describe the application, problem, and impact level.
  • Resolution: Describe the resolution steps and root cause. Use screenshots from your APM tool.
  • Business Impact: Describe how long it took to resolve the issue, how long it normally takes without APM, and quantify the impact to the business of this outage for both scenarios (with and without APM).

These short presentations will equip you with the information you need to defend your decision to purchase APM, justify a larger investment, and propel yourself to rockstar status within your organization.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done to successfully deploy, configure and use an APM tool in the enterprise but the potential rewards are staggering. Think about how much lost revenue can be avoided by ensuring your revenue generating applications don’t go down at peak times. People notice when the decisions you make and the work you do directly impact the bottom line. Put in the effort and get noticed!

Join me next week for the next installment in this series. It will be a blog post dedicated to alerts, yes they are that important.

Read the original blog entry...

About Sandi Mappic
Sandi Mappic has a passion for making apps go faster. She works with AppDynamics around the clock to help customers resolve performance pain and master application performance management. (This is AppDynamics blog feed written by several different AppDynamics bloggers.)

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The Amazon Web Services public infrastructure cloud is seeing massive adoption, and for good reason. Using AWS arms companies with advanced infrastructure that, in most cases, they could not possibly achieve in their own datacenters. In fact, According to Gartner, AWS has 5 times more deployed cloud infrastructure as their next 14 competitors have...combined.[1] Customers like Bristol-Myers Squibb, Unilever, and Lionsgate are taking advantage of the broad and deep services of the AWS Cloud to grow their businesses and accelerate innovation.[2] However, using any public cloud infrastructure st...
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The Internet of Things is only going to make that even more challenging as businesses turn to new business models and services fueled by a converging digital-physical world. Applications, whether focused on licensing, provisioning, managing or storing data for these "things" will increase the already significant burden on IT as a whole. The inability to scale from an operational perspective is really what software-defined architectures are attempting to solve by operationalizing the network to shift the burden of provisioning and management from people to technology.
The Smart Home concept is a subset of the Internet of Things(IoT). The core idea is to connect “things” (digital devices) to each other to facilitate communication, feedback, and alerting. In essence connecting the physical world with the digital world. We are installing new sensors and actuators into everyday devices that is leading to new IoT and Smart Home services by integrating existing solutions and technologies.
On Halloween day, let's take a quick look at some of the top things that are killing software testers... Accelerated Release Cycles In response to today's demand for speed and "Continuous Everything," the software delivery conveyer belt keeps moving faster and faster. Considering that software testing has long been a thorn in the side of the software delivery process, it's unreasonable to expect that simply trying to speed up an already-troubled quality process will achieve the desired results. (I Love Lucy fans: Just think of Lucy and Ethel at the candy factory, struggling to keep pace a...
It is no doubt that the latest and greatest technologies get your juices flowing. Researching the details, comparing the benchmarks, imagining the differences you could make within your organization if you could just put the right technology solutions in the right place. If only budgets and time were endless. If only you could start again from scratch. How different things would be. Insert screeching record and your return to reality. You are not only tasked with integrating legacy systems the business has relied on for years and numerous data sources scattered throughout the organization but ...
Since the birth of Hadoop in 2005-06, the way we think about storing and processing information has evolved considerably. The term “Big Data” has become synonymous with this evolution. But still, many of our customers continue to ask, “What is Big Data?”, “What are its use cases?”, and “What is its business value?”. The Internet is overloaded with definitions, characteristics, and benefits; however, few discussions synthesize all three of these topics in one place. This paper answers these questions, and proposes a total cost calculation framework for CTOs and CIOs that are evaluating solution...
This is a follow-up blog that is part of a series of 2015 cloud predictions. The first one, entitled When the Walls Come Down, had the following as the central thesis: In 2015 the perceived costs of cloud migration for existing production apps will drop by more than 50%; it will trigger a massive (and […]
Depending on whom you listen to, the private cloud is either dead or on the cusp of a major market breakthrough. Some tech pundits argue this technology has already been replaced by more efficient public cloud offerings and businesses just need time to catch up, while others claim there's a bright future for private solutions. Research supports the latter – according to IDC, spending on hosted private cloud services should hit $24 billion by 2016. Why? Because there's real value in this model. Here's a look at five compelling advantages of the private cloud. It's Not On-Premises (Necessarily...

The "internet of things" is not coming. It's here.

Driven by the introduction of low-cost "things" that are actually useful, Silicon Valley's promised land of a wirelessly-linked network of everyday objects is slowly becoming a reality.

And for those who see the data-gathering potential, the prospects are salivation-inducing; a world where everything could sense its surroundings, gathering all kinds of data and then wirelessly delivering it to a central point for analysis.

Appcore aims to simplify private cloud through Apache CloudStack solutions. Nate Gordon serves as the Des Moines, IA-based company's Director of Technology, in its effort to enhance Apache CloudStack and Citrix CloudPlatform for its customers. We had a few questions for him, and this is what he told us: Cloud Computing Journal: What have your customers found to be the advantages of using Apache CloudStack? Nate Gordon: Appcore understands that there are a lot of orchestration platforms in the market to chose from. Before we committed to one platform or the other, we did an extensive anal...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Earlier in the year, Gartner forecast that by year-end 2016, more than 50 percent of global companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in a public cloud platform. These services can scale very quickly, which has made them very popular for applications that have a requirement for flexibility.

Cloud storage offers organizations significant cost and agility benefits, but can pose some security, privacy, accessibility and performance challenges. Therefore, a big part of selecting a best-fit cloud storage provider is investing the time to perform the research to fully understand ...
Before YARN there was another resource negotiator, Mesos. Mesos was originally documented in a research paper, followed by an Apache project, and now commercialized as Mesosphere – who are building out an ecosystem around Mesos.
I'll be hosting an SAP HANA Cloud webinar at 11am eastern time, Wednesday, October 29. You can sign up now. Featured speakers will be Allan Adler, Managing Partner, Channel Cloud Consulting, and Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP. Attendees will learn about • Cloud economics, hybrid cloud strategy, market size and opportunity • Introduction to SAP HANA Cloud Platform and how to: - Build new next-generation applications - Extend on-premise solutions non-disruptively through extensions in the cloud - Extend existing cloud solutions and building customized business proce...
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Past SYS-CON Events
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    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

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PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

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Oracle

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AppZero

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RightScale

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CiRBA

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Layer 7 Tech

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NYT

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Oracle

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