The shift from infrastructure management to application management for enterprise organizations has resulted in a renewed interest in end-to-end Application Performance Management (APM). When we reviewed APM products two years ago, it was one of our largest lab reviews that we performed. We tested suites from BMC, Compuware, Indicative (purchased by Nimsoft), NetIQ, NetQoS, Network General, Nimsoft (purchased by CA), Quest Software and Symantec (spun back out as Precise). Those vendors continue to evolve their holistic APM solutions and capture a lot of the overall APM market share.
Especially as the APM market begins to traverse cloud and on-premise environments, the end-to-end environment monitoring of these applications and transactions becomes increasingly complex. While open source and cloud architectures allow rapid application development, it can make the management of these applications more of a headache.
Here, I highlight five boutique APM vendors that focus on niche areas and provide compelling technologies to the market. The challenge for these vendors is finding their place in a crowded software market, but IT managers interested in APM should check them out.
AppDynamics, with its Lite version available for free, targets the full spectrum of application mapping, transaction flow monitoring, code-level diagnostics, and even cloud orchestration. With a focus managing distributed applications in high-volume production environments, it strives to limit the excess overhead found in many products. The most compelling aspect is its dynamic discovery of application services, infrastructure components and live visualization of all topologies and transaction flows. Layer the policy engine on top of its diagnostics capability and you have a lot of visibility into your applications.
Correlsense SharePath's architecture is comprised of collection agents and a business service analytics application. The key is the transaction monitoring tool that has the ability to provide a clear look inside any SOA system. With SOAP and Web services monitoring you can track transactions from end-to-end. With a quick installation you can even start monitoring without restarting the monitored server or application. The company also provides real user monitoring for free.
Nastel Technologies' AutoPilot M6 focuses on using complex event processing for predictive problem solving. Using a baseline of performance, it looks for patterns that show if an application starts to behave abnormally based on a wide variety of factors. This predictive capability can help detect which components may fail before customers are impacted, and can help organizations move from reactive to proactive transaction monitoring.
SL Corporation's RTView provides holistic APM soup to nuts. As a monitoring, data aggregation and visualization platform you can get customizable analytics, dashboards, alerts, and reports based on both real-time and historical data. This can come from SL's agents directly or from almost any other data source. Targeting both application development shops as well as operations organizations, RTView can provide a single, consolidated APM package and even extend into the cloud environment. The historical reporting engine is a real powerhouse. It can be used to find trouble spots before they affect the business.
Tevron's CitraTest APM takes a unique approach, monitoring any application accessible from a Windows PC. It periodically executes synthetic transactions, using an image recognition system to replicate the actions of a real user in terms visually analyzing their desktop. If you are just interested in impact on users, this synthetic transaction does not require agents on servers to monitor performance. For outsourced application environments where you need to monitor SLAs, like SaaS, this is a great way to keep the provider honest and check that they are meeting their obligations. With the variety of APM products in the market, choosing the right vendor depends on your business requirements, budget and objectives. While getting these aligned is tough, there's no lack of innovative solutions for end-to-end APM success.