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Rolling Review Wrap-Up: APM Suites

There's a lot of marketing hype and money swirling around next-generation application performance management tools. While many IT organizations strive for deep visibility into critical application metrics, they're fearful of products that depend on manual, labor-intensive approaches to deploy, manage and monitor applications—and for good reason. To find out which APM suites provide insight without too much outlay of effort we've spent much of the past year testing nine leading products in our Windward Consulting Real-World partner labs.

We designed a thesis around holistic APM products that not only identify problems, but take corrective action to resolve performance issues before they impact users and customers. Actions may include allocating additional bandwidth or server processing capacity, even rolling back configuration changes. Where corrective-action capabilities are lacking, organizations will struggle with fixing problems manually, though fast identification and notification are better than nothing.

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We also suggested that for truly holistic APM, products should locate and predict performance problems across all application components and support all facets of the app infrastructure, including system and network performance. Service modeling was another key area; we sought to model critical application services and report on SLA compliance.

A tall order, but there are dozens of players in this space. We tested suites from BMC, Compuware, Indicative, NetIQ, NetQoS, Network General, Nimsoft, Quest Software and Symantec. During the review, we had an additional twenty-three vendors that wanted to participate, while a handful, including CA, IBM and HP, declined our invitation or could not get software in place to meet our schedule. We'll try to get more APM products in the lab this year, but we're confident the nine suites tested represent the full spectrum of features in terms of data collection, reporting, correlation and integration. Getting the Goods

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