More companies will adopt service-oriented architecture (SOA) initiatives and agile practices in 2011, and are more likely to virtualize their apps than move them to the cloud - these are the key findings of "Apps on the Move," a recent survey of application performance management (APM) done by APM vendor AppDynamics.
Forty-nine percent of respondents said they expect to ramp up agile development next year, and 66 percent said they expect to leverage additional SOA initiatives for mission-critical apps. Most respondents (85 percent) said they perform multiple agile releases on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis. At the same time, 74 percent of respondents characterized their existing architectures as distributed or SOA.
"Most respondents said they're past the point where Agile and SOA represent a future destination for their companies," said Jyoti Bansal, CEO of AppDynamics. "Agile and SOA have become the 'new normal.'"
The vendor surveyed more than 140 IT professionals who oversee application performance in Java or .NET environments.
The big picture revealed by the survey is that while more and more apps are considered mission-critical, many companies experience performance problems with those apps--largely due to increasingly complex environments. SOA, agile and virtualization, by their nature, make environments complex.
"To address these new environments, companies are beginning to adopt a collaborative 'DevOps' approach to managing mission-critical applications," said Bansal.
Nearly a third of respondents noted they have adopted a management approach where development and operations share the same reporting structure and are jointly responsible for the performance of mission-critical applications, he said.
Another key finding is that most companies are more enamored by virtualization than by the cloud.
Where are apps moving -- and why?
Apps are mostly moving to the virtual, not the cloud world. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they have virtualized up to nine percent of their apps while 61 percent said they have moved less than nine percent of their apps to the cloud or a hybrid cloud/physical environment.
Fifty-four percent of respondents said they have a virtualization project on deck for 2011, while a resounding 67 percent said they have no plans to migrate their apps to the cloud next year.
The main reason for pursuing virtualization and cloud projects is business agility. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they hope to become more flexible as a result of migrating their apps.
At the same time, respondents said they continue to face challenges in regards to their app migrations - but they gave different reasons for stalled virtualization and cloud initiatives. In the case of virtualization, the primary reason is budgetary. Performance issues are also a grave concern. Application owners said they are worried about increased production outages and performance slowdowns post-virtualization.
Surprisingly, fear of virtual sprawl - a much-written about problem in regards to virtualizing apps - appears to be a negligible concern.
In the case of moving apps to the cloud, security concerns (31.4 percent) are paramount. It's notable that the secondary reason for the stalling of cloud initiatives was "No support/other people don't see the value" (27.9 percent).
Bansal said all of this suggests that although virtualization has been heavily socialized and accepted within IT organizations, cloud initiatives remain hampered.
"The stakeholders are attempting to parse between the business hype of the cloud and its reality," he said.
Rising complexity in SOA, cloud, virtualization
Interestingly, the use of agile, SOA, the cloud and virtualization has only simplified the working life of about 13 percent of respondents, giving them more components to manage.
The rest of the responses ranged from 'significantly more difficult' (14.2 percent) to 'slightly more difficult' (37.2 percent) to 'about the same' (35.4 percent).
"When applications were part of a relatively simple environment where a single database talked to a single server, application performance was quite easy," said Bansal. "The new landscape is much more difficult to manage."
Reflecting that complexity perhaps, 88 percent of respondents reported they experienced at least one severity 1 problem in regards to mission-critical apps, and nearly 50 percent experienced five or more such problems.