Agentless End-User Experience Monitoring And APM Best Practices

This is a guest blog post written and contributed by Todd Kaloudis, senior vice president of business development and global channels for OPNET Technologies, an IT performance management provider and a Rackspace Cloud Tools partner.

A recent survey by Alcatel-Lucent revealed that the No. 1 concern about current cloud offerings is application performance. Therefore, it makes sense for leaders in cloud computing and application performance management (APM) to work together, to help their IT operations and Dev/Ops customers deliver applications that perform in the cloud..

OPNET is delighted to share this vision with Rackspace. APM solutions should make it very easy to monitor end-user experience while also providing rapid analysis of transaction data. Monitoring end-user experience is different than monitoring the performance of elements that support applications. Consider the difference between these questions:

  • How are users in Manhattan experiencing the new release of our electronic medical records application?
  • How fast does the database process transactions?

The second question may be a good one to explore further if “the database” is the problem. But monitoring any performance metric for a single tier of a modern application without understanding how it impacts users is not as helpful. APM should start with end-user experience monitoring.

User transactions are also a rich source of information for solving tricky problems that impact business. For example, once a problem with end-user experience is identified, such as “the application is so slow we are losing customers,” which investments are required to fix the problem? And which specialists are needed to make those decisions?  DBAs? .NET developers? Network engineers? Web content management systems specialists? Your cloud provider’s support hotline?

The same line of thinking applies in every industry that relies on networked applications for business: avoid fire-fighting parties with lots of different IT specialists whenever possible. Save your specialists for the strategic projects. And, don’t invest in upgrades or new technology unless it will help you fix the real problem you’re trying to address.

OPNET’s approach to APM starts with providing choices for instrumentation so that enterprises can collect transaction data effectively, based on their unique environments. There are situations in which the right instrumentation might be passive, on a private datacenter’s 10 Gbps network. Or from end-user browsers on mobile devices that access your Rackspace-hosted web applications over the Internet. Or with agents that collect code-level transaction traces on each virtualized component of your production application. Or some combination of the three.

OPNET also believes that storing performance information for each individual transaction is essential. So long as there is an easy way to analyze the stored information, this approach results in faster problem-solving. After all, it is very difficult to predict in advance which transaction you will need to examine to answer a question that has not been asked yet. Check out “All Transactions, All the Time” to read more about this subject.

Finally, sophisticated analytics are required to automate interpretation of stored transaction data so IT can rapidly diagnose the root cause of each problem and fix them. The smarter the analytics are about each IT domain (network, system, application …), the easier they will make IT’s workload.

Our clients dramatically reduce the cost of supporting their high-performance applications because of these themes in our APM Xpert suite. OPNET’s AppResponse Xpert SaaS Edition is a new part of the suite that provides a unique, agentless approach to monitoring the end-user experience of web applications — even when they are hosted in the cloud.

You can request a free trial by clicking the “Get Now” link on our new Rackspace profile page.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here