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Startup AppDynamics Offers A Free, Lite APM

AppDynamics, a startup which early this year introduced application performance management (APM) software to manage applications running in cloud, virtual and service-oriented architecture (SOA) environments, is now offering a free edition of the software, AppDynamics Lite. The new edition has been available for download from AppDynamics' site since mid-May and provides much--but not all--of the capability of the company's full-blown software, AppDynamics 2.0. The free software can be downloaded directly to an application server and used to help companies troubleshoot and diagnose the root cause of performance problems in production environments.

Management vendors are all jockeying to fill a void in the monitoring and management of applications running in highly distributed environments, particularly those created by virtualization and cloud computing architectures. The traditional vendors such as CA are building on a legacy of systems management capabilities, while startups like AppDynamics leverage newly developed management architectures that are built from the ground up. Their idea is that applications are services that can scale up or down as needed and can be dispersed among multiple virtual servers. In fact, AppDynamics' solution was designed specifically to monitor cloud-deployed applications and intelligently provision capacity as needed. It's important to note that there are other free performance monitoring systems available, including one from privately-held San Francisco-based New Relic, which offers its RPM to manage Java, Ruby and JRuby applications. AppDynamics' VP of Marketing, Steve Roop, says products like RPM are Java Profilers that work best in development environments but generate too much overhead and thus would slow down production environments.

AppDynamics Lite was designed to be downloaded and installed on a customer's production application server in about two minutes. Then, within 15 minutes, the software is able to perform root-cause analysis by watching and measuring performance of server calls out to the various databases, Web services and third-party servers the customer's application server must communicate with when performing transactions, explains Jyoti Bansal, AppDynamics' founder and CEO.

The software focuses on business transactions, such as logins, log outs, additions to shopping carts, product lookups, checkouts, and other processes. The software is capable of troubleshooting these types of transactions, detecting slow and very slow requests, locating errors and stalls and performing root-cause diagnostics. If, for example, a request to a database is stalled or slows down to unacceptable service levels, customers can use the software to find out why by performing code level diagnostics.

Customers can drill into five different screens within AppDynamics Lite. Initially, there's a Dashboard that illustrates which business transactions are having problems. For example, customers can see summary performance metrics (load, response, errors, stalls) and the software provides visual cues (green/yellow/red) indicating how well the different transactions are performing. If one transaction is slowing, the customer can drill down into a specific transaction. From there, customers can diagnose root cause  to find hot spots, troubles SQL or external calls, stalls that last more than 30 seconds, logged errors and more. They can also start diagnostic sessions to get class/method level diagnostics.

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