AppDynamics; Cloud Providers

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Immediately’s massive companies are inclined to have various digital footprints that embody not only a multitude of internet sites, however a number of web-facing, and sometimes business-critical, functions, too. For these eventualities, clients want an internet site monitoring service with not simply cutting-edge options, but in addition a deal with reliability, analytics, and efficiency. On this web site monitoring service roundup, that software is AppDynamics, which begins at $three,300 per unit per 12 months. For this reason it will get our Editors’ Alternative award for enterprise customers. Competing merchandise comparable to our Editors’ Alternative winner for small to midsize companies (SMBs), SmartBear AlertSite Professional, may present higher options in remoted classes, however none of them put all of it collectively into an entire, enterprise-ready package deal like AppDynamics does.

The AppDynamics suite is out there in two primary flavors: a free, Lite model that’s geared towards a single utility or a paid, Professional model. AppDynamics Professional, the mannequin geared towards enterprises, is priced when it comes to licensed items of its numerous product modules. There are 9 completely different product modules, every offered as one or three-year subscriptions or perpetual licenses, and delivered as both cloud-based, Software program-as-a-Service (SaaS), or by way of on-premises deployment. AppDynamics merchandise could be grouped into Finish Consumer Expertise Monitoring (EUEM) together with Internet and cell), Software Efficiency Monitoring (APM), Infrastructure, Database, and Software Analytics. Prospects can license a number of modules relying on the functions and infrastructure they should monitor.

The extra runtimes a enterprise buyer’s code runs on, the extra license items they will want as every runtime occasion requires an agent to gather and report the monitoring knowledge again to the AppDynamics controller. Runtime means the atmosphere by which an internet site’s code is working. For instance, AppDynamics affords runtime cases together with Java, .NET, PHP, and Node.js, every of which might require a license unit for the corresponding agent.

AppDynamics merchandise include a quantity low cost of decrease per-unit prices for bigger purchases. For 1-10 items, the worth is $three,300 per unit per 12 months, and from 11-25 items that per-unit value lowers to $2,970 (with extra reductions for a three-year subscription).

AppDynamics is pricey, there is not any query. Including up a number of items can simply run its value above the bottom pricing of Dynatrace UEM (the opposite actually enterprise-focused product on this roundup), and AppDynamics’ worth solely goes up from there. The distinction is, with AppDynamics, a enterprise is getting an entire web site and infrastructure monitoring resolution inside a full-blown APM suite. Which means the enterprise customers, builders, and IT employees inside an enterprise are all working with the identical knowledge in the identical place, tailor-made to their particular wants. It is by far probably the most highly effective service I reviewed, having the farthest-reaching monitoring (from the frontend of an internet site by its backend infrastructure) and complete, business-focused analytics. It additionally has the reporting and alert construction to effectively distribute that info to the suitable individuals in a large-scale enterprise enterprise.

AppDynamics Dashboard

Unified Monitoring

AppDynamics affords a specific resolution it calls Unified Monitoring. For enterprise functions, this implies six completely different AppDynamics merchandise rolled into one platform: APM, Browser Actual Consumer Monitoring (RUM), Cellular RUM, Artificial Monitoring (at the moment in beta), Database Monitoring, and Server Monitoring. The purpose is to supply visibility into the complete Internet stack, entrance finish and again finish, to handle person expertise (UX) throughout browsers and units, with the infrastructure, root trigger evaluation, and tailor-made alerting to hint precisely the place a efficiency drawback happens.

To check whether or not or not AppDynamics can truly do all that, I began in the principle dashboard. The navigation bar throughout the highest lists main elements within the relative order by which an enterprise person may want them (beginning with Purposes, adopted by Databases, Infrastructure, Analytics, Dashboards & Stories, and Alert & Reply). Beneath the navigation bar is a clear tile format, with packing containers for Purposes and Databases, every with inexperienced and crimson standing bars indicating the present well being—AppDynamics’ in-house efficiency measure of UX—of every web site.

Not like Dynatrace UEM, SmartBear AlertSite Professional, and Pingdom, AppDynamics does not use the Application Performance Index (Apdex) open standard for UX measurement and, in fact, some folks at AppDynamics are vocally opposed to the popular index. The other dashboard tiles include an Analytics box that gives a snapshot of user events and transactions, as well as a list of built-in and custom dashboards that are similar to the same tile on the Dynatrace UEM dashboard but with a more bare-bones design hewing closer to the SmartBear AlertSite Pro layout.

From purely a website monitoring perspective, business users will spend the most time in the Applications tab. I clicked one of the demo applications, an online retail site, and found myself looking at a detailed flow map diagraming the complete architecture of the application. Arrows ran from front-end Java and PHP nodes back through MySQL databases and servers, with interactive lines showing the flow of HTTP calls from one location to another when my mouse hovered over a line. The conceptual layout is similar to the way Ghostery MCM represents third-party tags and website components but with a more comprehensive focus on exactly the path a user transaction takes.

In the same Application Dashboard view, I tabbed over to Top Business Transactions which, in the context of the online retail site, highlighted the product pages that received the most HTTP calls, sorted by errors and page response time (with a green check mark to indicate their health). Two other interesting tabs in this dashboard were Transaction Snapshots and Transaction Score, which provide periodic performance snapshots of a website or application based on whether the UX was normal, slow, or filled with errors. The Transaction Score then transforms that long list of transactions into a bar graph showing transaction percentages, from “normal” all the way to “stall and error.” I found this was a quick and straightforward way to take that long list of transactions and whip it into a simple graph for users to visualize website performance.

Scrolling down the vertical navigation on the left-hand side of the Applications tab, I found both Web User and Mobile User Experience pages breaking down user traffic. Each provides the same kind of customizable tile dashboards found in Dynatrace UEM, with a selection of interactive maps breaking down user response time, page requests from different reasons, and pie charts of the different browsers, devices, and operating systems used. Dynatrace UEM provides a slightly wider array of design and charting options but the functionality is essentially equal. As far as from where the traffic is coming, AppDynamics offers both RUM and synthetic monitoring but, in contrast to synthetic-focused products like SmartBear AlertSite Pro, AppDynamics is primarily focused on RUM. The platform’s synthetic monitoring is used more for early error warnings, testing websites with jobs set at different intervals.

AppDynamics Application Flow Map

Inside the Business

Making my way from Applications into Databases and Infrastructure, AppDynamics gave the same level of easily understandable business visibility into the back end of websites as the front end. After clicking one of the databases listed, another interactive tile dashboard view came up with metrics such as load time, memory, and network and disk input/output (I/O), with live views and reports into queries, database calls, and sessions.

The Infrastructure tab listing servers worked the same way. These tabs all tie into AppDynamics’ root cause analysis capabilities, which made it easy for me to pull data from each level of the online retail application into a custom dashboard. This is where I was able to track one particular user transaction request with what AppDynamics calls its “tag-and-trace” feature, tracking it from the application flow map through the database calls, laid out as a line graph in one tile, to the server CPU process in the next. The back-end processes are also largely code-free because AppDynamics’ “smart code instrumentation” let me set up and monitor databases and servers without any manual configuration.

The back-end APM visibility and root cause analysis available through AppDynamics are some of the most appealing capabilities for enterprise developer and IT teams. But, for the average business user, it’s the platform’s prebuilt and custom dashboards tying into business transactions that will likely attract the most attention. In creating a custom dashboard, the AppDynamics experience was on par with SmartBear AlertSite Pro and Dynatrace UEM, laying out tiles as an adjustable grid or by using a more structured Absolute dashboard layout with clearly defined graph properties.

When adding components to the dashboard, I was able to represent different categories of metrics (e.g., overall application performance, business transaction performance, UX, etc.) as a graph, pie chart, or speed gauge graphic. I also had the option to add a status light, event list box for Health Rules, and other widgets. What made these custom dashboards of particular use from a business perspective is their ability to chart performance against revenue. AppDynamics sets performance baselines on which to measure end-to-end business transactions, and includes asynchronous support to present this real-time business data through the dashboards, without much latency. My testing also included data from a movie-ticketing website and, in a custom dashboard, the business can compare average response time against the volume of ticket purchases and the website’s total revenue. Custom dashboards can be created for business users at different levels of an enterprise, giving marketing, line-of-business (LOB) managers, and even executives within an organization a personalized dashboard that can monitor exactly the analytics they need, based on real-time, operational website data.

AppDynamics Custom Biz Dashboard 1

Alerting, Analytics, and Website Health

AppDynamics uses its custom health rules and policies (rather than Apdex metrics) to measure UX and business transaction performance. Because of this, setting up and using analytics and alerting was different in AppDynamics than it was in the other website monitoring services.

Acting as an enterprise user managing several different Web applications, I was able to set individual health rules for each website and even the individual databases and servers behind them. When creating a health rule, you decide exactly what components it will affect—which can be anything from overall application or transaction performance, to Web and mobile UX, to error rates, individual nodes, and endpoints.

I then chose a timeframe and interval for the rule, and the time between when a rule “violation” is detected and when the alert policy kicks in. I also set specific parameters for when a rule is considered in Warning Condition and in Critical Condition. Setting up alerts in this way gave me a more granular sense of control over what exactly an enterprise defines as acceptable performance or UX standards in each moving part of a website rather than accepting Apdex measures (despite how effectively those metrics were integrated into some of the other website monitoring services).

AppDynamics Health Rules

From there, I configured specific alert policies for all or for specific Health Rule violations such as executing a specific action (e.g., automatically restarting an application) and designating to whom to send email or text alerts. AppDynamics also offers email digests which send summaries of how specific health rules I set are faring over a given number of hours. The email digests were straightforward, providing a bulleted list of errors without much more context. I could have used some more detail about the cause of a particular health rule error in the body of the email (such as a preliminary root cause analysis) but, for getting the bare performance essentials across, the alerting got the job done.

A couple of other analytics capabilities worth noting here are Business Impact Analytics, which is a report that identifies failed website transactions and what specific customers those failures impacted, as well as the subsequent Customer Win Back Analysis report, which breaks down that user’s experience into specific timestamped events to help a business’s marketing team run a win-back campaign.

Best of the Bunch

AppDynamics is designed for extremely large environments. For small businesses managing maybe a single website and a mobile application, it’s like using a very expensive rocket ship to drive down the block. But, if you’re an enterprise organization managing multiple interconnected applications and websites, AppDynamics is worth the money. Of all the website monitoring services I reviewed in this roundup, AppDynamics offered the most complete package of web and mobile monitoring, back-end analytics, and reporting and alerts—all distilled in customized and easily understandable formats for every level of an organization. It was an easy pick as our Editors’ Choice for enterprises.

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