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New Management Tools for Highly Distributed Apps

IT departments have never had it so good, with Java, .NET, SOA, and open source architectures, but these versatile apps are difficult to monitor.


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In terms of rapid software development, software architects and IT departments have never had it so good. Java, .NET, SOA and open source architectures enable organizations to build highly distributed applications better and cheaper than ever. These apps can run across cloud, virtual, and physical environments.

But, here’s the rub: These very versatile apps are difficult to monitor and troubleshoot, especially if they contain a mix of open source and proprietary components. They often contain blind spots that can lead to critical problems. These apps need a new kind of application performance management (APM) tool.

Complicating matters ever more, time-to-market pressures force organization to leverage agile development to introduce frequent updates to production apps. Performance issues must be prevented immediately, as many apps provide revenue-critical services. And, finger-pointing blame games between operations and development teams must be resolved within hours.



“Legacy APM tools were not built for distributed applications in cloud, virtual, and physical environments,” says Steve Roop, vice president of marketing for AppDynamics, which recently introduced AppDynamics 2.0., an APM tool designed to deliver rapid problem resolution for highly distributed applications.

Roop claims the tool delivers unmatched breadth, depth, and ease-of-use in a single, integrated product that can be up and running within minutes. He says the tool’s capabilities include: cloud orchestration, application mapping, transaction flow monitoring, and code-level diagnostics. There’s also a SaaS option.

One customer that sings the praises of AppDynamics’ tool is Yap Inc., which provides an automated transcription service.

“AppDynamics allows us to view our entire system on one screen and quickly drill down into platform performance metrics, catching issues before they develop,” says Rick Terrell, Yap’s VP of Engineering. “The tool enables us to add test code in the morning and have it in production in the afternoon, without any stress and without requiring us to do a lot. It’s that easy to use.”

The rapid shift to and use of service-oriented architectures, cloud computing and virtualization has revealed the inadequacies of tools designed for traditional architectures and data centers,” says Rich Ptak, analyst, Ptak Noel & Associates, a research and consulting firm.

Ptak says AppDynamics does a good job of “providing a single, smart, integrated solution.”

Other vendors with powerful APM tools for highly distributed apps include Compuware and DynaTrace. Perhaps no vendor has richer technology that Compuware, which is at the high-end of the APM food-chain.

At the end of last year, Compuware integrated its Vantage application performance management solution and its Gomez Web performance management solutions. The result: technology that powers visibility across the entire application delivery chain -- from internal systems behind the firewall to the Web browsers of users around the globe. Unified dashboards accelerate the investigation and resolution of application performance issues impacting customers and critical business services.

A few months ago, DynaTrace updated its flagship DynaTrace product to provide performance management coverage for the Microsoft application stack, enabling developers to monitor, diagnose and prevent performance issues in software development, test and production.

“Our software gives developers a deep, granular look into what they are creating, from the browser to the application and into the development environment – without changing the nature of their software or adding much code ‘weight’,” says Eric Senunas, dynaTrace’s senior director of marketing and communications.

The new DynaTrace software, v 3.2, includes FastPacks, designed to enable developers to rapidly deploy the DynaTrace APM system and capture and view detailed performance information from existing Microsoft SharePoint Server, Dynamics CRM, BizTalk Server and .NET Framework-based applications.


   
Herman Mehling has written about IT for 25 years. He has written hundreds of articles for leading computer publications and websites.
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