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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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Several current trends in cloud computing leading into 2015 actually exhibit a tension between themselves. One trend, a well-known fact that will continue in the New Year to a greater extent, is that enterprises are rapidly moving to the cloud because of its operational efficiencies. This now includes enterprise projects that have sensitive data. Unlike the early days of “The Cloud,” enterprises are now stepping up with some of their crown jewels. Industries that will accelerate adoption in the New Year are Healthcare, Insurance, Utilities, Finance, and to some extent Banking.
In late August, voke, Inc. debuted its “Market Snapshot Report: Virtual and Cloud-Based Labs,” about how companies of all sizes and levels of testing sophistication view, use and benefit from virtual and cloud-based development and testing technologies. The results were pretty amazing―even we were surprised! Among the many benefits the 503 participant companies (50% of which were U.S. based) cited, 53% saw reduced CAPEX (capital expenditures) from the use of virtual and cloud-based labs. Thirty-nine percent said they help eliminate defects prior to production, and 33% said they improve audi...
Cloud computing is increasingly becoming part of the enterprise IT landscape. In fact, a recent cloud security survey conducted by HP reveals that 70 percent of all respondents say their company is using some form of the cloud. The study also found that cloud penetration jumps to 80 percent for enterprise-size organizations. With such dramatic growth figures, it is no wonder that enterprise companies are carefully reviewing cloud security policies’ implication on cloud data. Here’s another fact from that same survey: While more than half of those using the public cloud are confident that criti...
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Cloud computing adoption has matured, with 69 percent of survey respondents stating that at least a portion of their computing infrastructure is in the cloud. However, 56 percent of companies are still identifying IT operations that could potentially Dec. 21, 2014 05:30 PM EST  Reads: 929
Many projected use cases for IoT won’t directly generate revenues. To achieve greater efficiency, companies are deploying IoT sensors internally throughout their organizations to optimize their use of everything from computer servers to lighting to HVAC systems to employee productivity. “Smart cities” are doing the same, only on a much higher scale. Amsterdam is leading the way. It’s employing IoT technology in everything from improving traffic flows in real time, to emergency response, to optimizing public transit use and maintenance. On the surface, these particular applications of IoT...
I visited the Tableau Software booth at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014 and I was quite impressed with the Tableau products (and the various data sources that can be used): Tableau for Desktop; Tableau Server; and Tableau on line which provides Business Intelligence in the cloud. I just wanted to take a look at their Tableau on line and visited their trial page here: http://www.tableausoftware.com/products/trial The first step is you need to register to get in. After registering you can request for a trial use of the Tableau Desktop software. Following this you will get the software suitable ...
A group of hackers called GOP (Guardians of Peace) has taken credit for the attack and they claim to have stolen terabytes of files. Sony admitted that a large amount of information has been stolen, including business and personnel files, and even unreleased movies. On Friday, security firm Identity Finder revealed that the attackers leaked what appears to be sensitive personal data on roughly 47,000 individuals, including celebrities. North Korea is considered a suspect, but the country’s officials have denied any involvement, and Sony representatives have not confirmed that the attack ...
What I thought was the best definition, had a line about how “communication was the responsibility of both Dev and Ops.” I know sounds really simple, but if you extend that definition of “communication” I thought that did a good job of showing that DevOps is absolutely both departments’ responsibility. It’s not just relying on one team to change culturally. I’d love to get your short definition of how you define DevOps today.
(article written for the Scality blog) It has been six years since I wrote my first object storage blog, even though I didn’t mention object storage in that specific article. I had my head in the clouds as our early cloud startup was being acquired by Sun Microsystem when someone asked me to write a […]
AppDynamics role with Cloud Foundry is two-fold. First, as a member of the foundation, we’ll offer our unparalleled performance monitoring and cloud experience to help define the standards for the initiative, dedicating resources and contributing code in the true open-source spirit. Second, we’ll create application performance management solutions for our clients who are adopting the Cloud Foundry PaaS. AppDynamics’ performance credentials for the cloud are impressive. Public, private, or hybrid, we help our customers to realize the full potential of their cloud deployments. Smooth migratio...
The next release candidate for 1.11.0 will be out very shortly, but I thought it best to post a brief update on the past week’s work as this week saw a concentrated effort on core optimization. First we took another look at the use of arguments lists throughout the framework and found several more occurrences of it being accessed in an inefficient manner. Depending on the browser, accessing arguments in such a way that causes it to be allocated can be up to 80% slower and so it’s really good to have these all fixed.
The Bridge Group is known for publishing insightful studies that aid SaaS Sales & Marketing leaders to build and optimize their inside sales strategies. They are working on the 5th round of their SaaS inside sales research and would like our help completing a 6-7 minute survey. Your answers will remain anonymous, and in return the research promises action-oriented guidance on compensation benchmarks, selling strategies, productivity and performance best practices, and more. If you are able, please take a few moments to fill out the survey: 2014-15 Bridge Group SaaS Inside Sales Research ...
Many workloads are already in the cloud: Most organizations today run at least some workloads in the cloud. For newer organizations, they will often run ALL of their workloads in the cloud. For cloud-based workloads, sending log data to a cloud-based logging provider is not quite as big a leap of faith as for those on prem. In fact it generally aligns quite closely to their requirements as there may be no outbound network costs, their logs may actually be in the same physical data center or geographical region, and they can be billed monthly - same as with their infrastructure costs.
When moving to cloud or deploying a new application it is important to understand the concept of a cloud enabled and cloud centric application. Cloud computing technologies allow organizations to leverage the cloud service models (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) and cloud deployment models (Public, Private and Hybrid) to deploy their applications.These applications can be categorized in two classes: a cloud-enabled or a cloud-centric applications. A cloud-enabled application is an application that was moved to cloud, but it was originally developed to be deployed in a traditional data center. Some char...
Sitting through a number of presentations at various cyber conferences recently I’m struck that many enterprises cyber security planning comes down to having ‘the best people’ doing really pretty boring jobs. Jobs like keeping software updated, tracking down holes in the firewalls, waiting for alarms to go off, being fed alerts about out-of-date software: in short lots of controlled firefighting. But it all seems like enterprises are just working harder (and expensively) by throwing more people at the problem – instead of finding new ways of doing their business securely.
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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
 
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  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
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Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


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


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