AppFirst Uncorks Free Server Monitoring Service

AppFirst is offering a free server monitoring solution. Founded in 2009, the New York City-based company says its monitoring solution provides IT operations with complete visibility into the behavior and performance of applications across the entire application stack, regardless of language, application type or location (cloud, physical or virtual servers).

November 10, 2010

3 Min Read
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AppFirst is offering a free server monitoring service. Founded in 2009, the New York City-based company says its monitoring service provides IT operations with complete visibility into the behavior and performance of applications across the entire application stack, regardless of language, application type or location (cloud, physical or virtual servers).

The company says its stripped-down free version, AppFirst Basic, is superior to existing server monitoring products, including new cloud monitoring products, that are based upon interval or polling data collection. AppFirst says it delivers better server monitoring for physical, virtual and cloud servers by being proactive. Its Deterministic Root Cause feature delivers alerts to users that identify the exact server where an issue is occurring, the process on the server causing the issue and what specifically the process is doing to disturb the performance of the application. Furthermore, by automating the manual process of searching every tier of an application and every layer of the IT infrastructure to identify the source, hours, days and even weeks of time resolving performance issues are eliminated.

Bojan Simic, president and principal analyst,TRAC Research, says the new tool should be attractive, especially to the small-medium business market. The SMB market has been underserved, he said, and they've been forced to use tools that were an awkward fit, at best. "So the pricing (free), capability and ease of use should really have a good chance at the SMB market."

One of the attractions of AppFirst's approach to monitoring servers and applications is that it is done in real time, says Simic. The existing ways of dealing with a problem just doesn't work anymore, he says. "If the end user calls a help disk or files a trouble ticket, you're already losing. You should be able to fix it before it actually disrupts things."

With AppFirst, you get an alert when it looks like a problem might happen, not when it's already happened. Instead of spending a lot of time and resources on finger pointing and determining what is responsible, you know where and what the problem is, says Simic. "So it's a money saver, saving time and resources."The key to AppFirst's solution is its use of software as a service (SaaS), which means there's virtually no performance penalty, with less than 1 percent CPU overhead. It says competitors will brag about 5-10 percent overhead, but that's best-case scenario, and the average is typically 15-20% CPU usage, says the company.

Sitting between the application and the operating system, AppFirst intercepts all process activity as it executes. Users get a consolidated view of all their servers -- physical, virtual or in the cloud - and customizable graphs and charts provide up-to-the-minute data. There are currently seven widgets available to customize the dashboard, and AppFirst also supports thousands of plugins -- Nagios plugins for Linux users, and Windows Performance Counters for Windows users - so users can correlate application specific data with the real-time data AppFirst collects.

The company hopes that its free version will tempt customers to buy the full-featured solutions (Professional and Unlimited), once they understand what's going on, and the benefits that are possible. It believes the improvements in customer satisfaction and the savings in resources are an attractive combination.

Simic agrees the market opportunity is there. Like the rest of the IT industry, monitoring took a big hit in 2009, but the rebound started towards the end of the year and has continued through 2010. The application performance monitoring solutions market is hot. "People are expecting more and more. Application performance really impacts their business productivity wise and the sharing of information. It's definitely driving demand for the APM solutions."

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