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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 AppDynamics Blog
In high-production environments where release cycles are measured in hours or minutes — not days or weeks — there's little room for mistakes and no room for confusion. Everyone has to understand what's happening, in real time, and have the means to do whatever is necessary to keep applications up and running optimally.

DevOps is a high-stakes world, but done well, it delivers the agility and performance to significantly impact business competitiveness.

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Converged infrastructure solutions are hastening the path to big-data business value and cloud deployment options. We'll also delve into how the right balance between open-source and commercial IT products helps in creating a big-data capability, and we'll further explore how converged infrastructure solutions are hastening the path to big-data business value and cloud deployment options.
GoodData is exploring new technologies to make BI as a service more seamless across more data types for more types of users -- all in the cloud. To learn the ups and downs of BIaaS, we welcome Jeff Morris, Vice President of Marketing at GoodData in San Francisco, and Chris Selland, Vice President for Business Development at HP Vertica. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ernest Mueller, Product Manager at Idera, will explain the best practices and lessons learned for tracking and optimizing costs while delivering a cloud-hosted service. He will describe a DevOps approach where the applications and systems work together to track usage, model costs in a granular fashion, and make smart decisions at runtime to minimize costs. The trickier parts covered include triggering off the right metrics; balancing resilience and redundancy vs cost, and balancing AWS purchase options like reserve instances and spot instances vs your applic...
Like me, you’re probably familiar with the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. A cautionary tale about the consequences of reneging on debt – it sure scared the crap out of me as a kid. In enterprise IT, we also accrue debt, but of the technical kind. While the results of non-payment aren’t as severe as those suffered by the good folk of Hamelin, not ‘paying the piper’ will have dire consequences for any businesses trying to compete on an economic playing field where the rules are determined by software. DevOps of course is now being touted as a tune organizations must play if they’re to dig...
One of the perennial cloud predictions has been that 200x would be the year of the Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud. The logic goes that if an automated data center in the sky is good, an automated development platform in the sky must be even better. “Normal” clouds like Amazon AWS give the developer a virtual computer to load their OS and App onto. PaaS gives the developer a virtual computer with the OS, database and middleware “pre-loaded,” thereby simplifying the deployment. Yet so far, PaaS adoption has been anemic and Gartner puts PaaS at 1% of the overall cloud market. At the same ti...
Before becoming a developer, I was in the high school band. I played several brass instruments - including French horn and cornet - as well as keyboards in the jazz stage band. A musician and a nerd, what can I say? I even dabbled in writing music for the band. Okay, mostly I wrote arrangements of pop music, so the band could keep the crowd entertained during Friday night football games. What struck me then was that, to write parts for all the instruments - brass, woodwind, percussion, even keyboards - I had to have an overall score to work from. Or at least a sketch of one. Otherwise, I'd ...
Disaster Recovery isn’t a new concept for IT folks. We’ve been backing up data for years to offsite locations, and used in-house data duplication in order to prevent the risks of losing data stores. But now that cloud adoption has increased, there have been some shifts in how traditional Disaster Recovery is being handled. First, we’re seeing increased adoption of cloud-based backup and disaster recovery. Gartner stated that between 2012 and 2016, one third of organizations are going to be looking at new solutions to replace current ones particularly because of cost, complexity or capability....
Over the last few years we’ve seen just about every part of the data centre move towards virtualization and software. First we virtualized desktops, then storage, then even our security tools. So when the idea of Software Defined Networking (SDN) started being floated around, it wasn’t a big surprise. But what exactly is it?
Cloud security is at the top of every CIO’s list. It is also the first subject that comes up when you engage in a discussion about the cloud. For those of us who followed the recent Ashley Madison story (from a tech perspective), you would agree that while the breach happened for so many reasons, security is at the heart of it. Here are some key aspects for creating a solid organization, keeping cloud security in perspective.
In 2011, then United States CIO Vivek Kundra released the US Federal Cloud Computing Strategy [1]. In the executive summary he pointed to cloud computing as a key component of the US Federal Government’s information technology modernization efforts: “Cloud computing has the potential to play a major part in addressing these inefficiencies and improving government service delivery. The cloud computing model can significantly help agencies grappling with the need to provide highly reliable, innovative services quickly despite resource constraints.”
I am not sure how many people remember Cisco SANTap. About ten years ago, Cisco introduced a data tapping mechanism in the MDS 9000 fibre channel switches. The idea was to allow the data path to be “tapped” at-will. Tapping in this case meant using a mechanism in the switch to split the data being written from client hosts to the storage, allowing the identical “split” data to be routed through a second, separate path. SANTap therefore allowed a copy of the data to be seamlessly “mirrored” through the switch and subsequently used by other applications for multiple purposes (especially for ba...
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Past SYS-CON Events
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2011west.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcexpo
2011east.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2010west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualization
2010west.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2010.
sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcomputingexpo
2010east.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo East
virtualizationconference
2010east.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
2009west.sys-con.com
    GovIT Expo
govitexpo.com
 
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2009.sys-con.com
 

Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
"More and better leads than ever expected! I have 4-6 follow ups personally."
  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
  –Simon Crosby
CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
  –David Linthicum
CTO
Brick Group