APM for Vendor Provided Business Critical Enterprise Applications
January 20, 2017

Sri Chaganty

Share this

Traditionally, Application Performance Management (APM) is usually associated with solutions that instrument application code. There are two fundamental limitations with such associations. If instrumenting the code is what APM is all about, then APM is applicable only to homegrown applications for which access to code is available.

However, the majority of business critical applications are not homegrown. As the chart below shows, the $320B enterprise software market is driven by vendors who provide solutions for which there is no access to the source code. The enterprise software market in the chart covers a full assortment of commercially off-the-shelf products ranging from corporate databases to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions and from Cloud-enabled productivity tools to mission-critical vertical applications. However, there are technical challenges with code instrumentation that are overlooked with this traditional association.

Source: Apps Run the World, 2016

Vendor Provided Software

Traditional APM vendors focus on application software that is developed in house, mainly based on Web Services. These solutions employ Byte Code Instrumentation (BCI), a technique for adding bytecode during "run time." These solutions are developer focused. If developers want to debug or profile the code during run time, BCI is an effective solution.

In reality, enterprises depend on both in-house developed software as well as vendor provided software. Applications that businesses use can be dived into two categories: 1) Business Critical Applications and 2) Productivity Applications. While business critical applications are the foundation on which the business success is dependent upon, productivity applications like email are also equally important for enterprises.

Generally, about 80% of the applications that enterprises use in either category are packaged applications supplied by vendors like Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft and others. Only 20% of the applications are developed in-house. In the majority of cases, the in-house developed applications generally wrap around vendor provided software.

A common example is an application developed based on web services customized for a business that are supported on SAP in the background. Instrumenting vendor provided software is not possible as the source code is not provided by the vendor, therefore, code instrumentation techniques are not feasible for vendor provided software.

Instrumenting in-house developed application software at different points gives a rich view to optimize the application throughout development. However, there are several types of problems that such instrumentation just can't see. It does not, and cannot, always deliver the complete visibility that users think they're getting. In addition, code instrumentation is not "free", even with the expensive tools commercially available, it takes considerable coding skills (not widely available) to achieve effective code instrumentation without degrading the performance of the production code execution.

Technical Challenges

Code instrumentation can report on the performance of your application software stack, but the service offered to customers depends on far more than just the software – it depends on all of the networks, load balancers, servers, databases, external services like Active Directory, DNS etc., service providers and third parties you use to provide the service. 

Traditional APM products do only BCI. They claim to be transaction management solutions, though there are limitations to what they can do in Java environments, and they have zero visibility of non-Java topologies.

A real transaction management product needs to follow the transaction between different types of application-related components such as proxies, Web servers, app servers (Java and non-Java), message brokers, queues, databases and so forth. In order to do that, visibility into different types of transaction-related data is required, some of which only exists at the actual payload of each request. Java is an interpreter and therefore hides parts of the actual code implementation from the Java layer. The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) itself is written in C, therefore there are operating system-specific pieces that are not accessible from Java and thus not accessible through BCI techniques.

If you want to use features of TCP/IP packets for tracing a transaction between two servers, the actual structure of packets is not accessible from the Java layer. There is information that is crucial to trace transactions across more than just Java hops. Such information is available only at a lower layer than the Java code, thus not accessible by BCI, which limits the ability to trace transactions in the real world.


For vendor provided software, BCI is an ineffective technique. For in-house built software, BCI allows programmers to enhance the code they are developing. It is a necessary tool for development teams but insufficient as it does not offer the visibility that IT Operations require in order to understand the application service delivery chain performance. If your business depends on mission-critical web or legacy applications, then monitoring how your end users interact with your applications is more important than how well the code is written. The responsiveness of the application determines the end user's experience. The true measurement of end-user experience is availability and response time of the application, end-to-end and hop-by-hop – covering the entire application service delivery chain.

Sri Chaganty is COO and CTO/Founder at AppEnsure.

Share this

The Latest

March 16, 2018

The State of the Mainframe report from Syncsort revealed an increased focus on traditional data infrastructure optimization to control costs and help fund strategic organizational projects like AI, machine learning and predictive analytics in addition to widespread concern about meeting security and compliance requirements ...

March 15, 2018

The 2018 Software Fail Watch report from Tricentis investigated 606 failures that affected over 3.6 billion people and caused $1.7 trillion in lost revenue ...

March 14, 2018

Gartner predicts there will be nearly 21 billion connected “things” in use worldwide by 2020 – impressive numbers that should catch the attention of every CIO. IT leaders in nearly every vertical market will soon be inundated with the management of both the data from these devices as well as the management of the devices themselves, each of which require the same lifecycle management as any other IT equipment. This can be an overwhelming realization for CIOs who don’t have an adequate configuration management strategy for their current IT environments, the foundation upon which all future digital strategies – Internet-connected or otherwise – will be built ...

March 13, 2018

Many network operations teams question if they need to TAP their networks; perhaps they aren't familiar with test access points (TAPs), or they think there isn't an application that makes sense for them. Over the past decade, industry best-practice revealed that all network infrastructure should utilize a network TAP as the foundation for complete visibility. The following are the seven most popular applications for TAPs ...

March 12, 2018

Organizations are eager to adopt cloud based architectures in an effort to support their digital transformation efforts, drive efficiencies and strengthen customer satisfaction, according to a new online cloud usage survey conducted by Denodo ...

March 09, 2018

Globally, cloud data center traffic will represent 95 percent of total data center traffic by 2021, compared to 88 percent in 2016, according to the Cisco Global Cloud Index (2016-2021) ...

March 08, 2018

Enterprise cloud spending will grow rapidly over the next year, and yet 35 percent of cloud spend is wasted, according to The RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud Survey ...

March 07, 2018

What often goes overlooked in our always-on digital culture are the people at the other end of each of these services tasked with their 24/7 management. If something goes wrong, users are quick to complain or switch to a competitor as IT practitioners on the backend race to rectify the situation. A recent PagerDuty State of IT Work-Life Balance Report revealed that IT professionals are struggling with the pressures associated with the management of these digital offerings ...

March 06, 2018

Businesses everywhere continually strive for greater efficiency. By way of illustration, more than a third of IT professionals cite "moving faster" as their top goal for 2018, and improving the efficiency of operations was one of the top three stated business objectives for organizations considering digital transformation initiatives ...

March 05, 2018

One of the current challenges for IT teams is the movement of the network to the cloud, and the lack of visibility that comes with that shift. While there has been a lot of hype around the benefits of cloud computing, very little is being said about the inherent drawbacks ...