12 Ways to Gain Faster ROI from APM
May 16, 2012
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Application performance management (APM) can cost you money or save you money. This often depends on how you approach your deployment. Experts from across the industry - including EMA, Gartner, Ovum, TRAC Research, THINKstrategies and Quadnet, as well as a range of leading vendors - offer the following valuable tips on how you can save money and gain faster ROI on your APM deployment.

Some of the recommendations may appear to conflict with each other, because there are a variety of legitimate approaches to APM. The list is meant to represent an open discussion of the many ways you can attain faster ROI on APM. The list is not intended to be comprehensive, and APMdigest is not suggesting that any of these tips are right or wrong. We are simply giving you access to some of the top minds in our industry, and then letting you decide where to go from here, to make your own APM initiative truly pay off.

1. Big Vision - Baby Steps

Big Vision = Understand that APM/BSM represents a broad, cross-domain set of requirements with process and political implications as well as technology requirements. Installing SW on a server and then celebrating with a beer (or whatever) won't cut it. Baby Steps = Define phases with set objectives, socialize them and ensure the right executive leadership is behind you. Don't try to achieve the "Big Vision" in one giant broad jump. This approach, which requires planning, good communication and socialization, and strong leadership, saves money hugely over piecemeal, snake-oil driven deployments that sound and are too good to be true.
Dennis Drogseth

2. Pick the right tool for the right job

The best way to save money on APM projects is to pick the appropriate APM tool for the appropriate job: 1) Code level debugging for Development, 2) Code level performance optimization and scaling in QA, and 3) Cross-domain Transaction Monitoring tied to Apps and Infrastructure in Production. With the proper selection and use of these tools, you can avoid the excessive licensing costs of tools not meant for your environment - as well as the team frustration and manpower costs of trying to use the wrong tool for the wrong job.
Chris Neal
Co-Founder and CEO, BlueStripe Software

3. Explore SaaS and Cloud Options

Leverage Cloud-based APM solutions which don't require significant upfront costs and provide easy to deploy and use features that can be implemented incrementally to increase likelihood of success.
Jeffrey Kaplan
Managing Director of THINKstrategies and Founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace

APM delivered as a Service (via SaaS) is an easy way to evaluate, purchase and implement APM in a fiscally responsible manner. You can be up and running in just a few minutes, and have subscription based pricing so you can pay as you go. In addition, there is no hardware or administration costs for the APM management server so the cost of scaling APM in your organization is financially viable. These solutions are also very intuitive from a user experience perspective, require minimal configuration and are more likely to deliver ROI sooner rather than later.
Stephen Burton
Tech Evangelist, AppDynamics

The SaaS-based "pay as you go" model imposes little to zero financial risk.
Dan Birck
Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Nimsoft

The Top 5 Advantages of SaaS-based APM

4. Start with Real User Monitoring

Start with Real User Experience Monitoring and build out from there. The technology generates vast quantities of data that is a) useful and b) almost immediately relevant to business concerns. At the same time, the technology is not very invasive and replaced without much impact to other IT systems.
Will Cappelli
Research VP in Enterprise Management, Gartner

It has been our experience that the Real User Monitoring (RUM) technology provides at least 80% of the APM value in terms of application visibility for the business. This is a low risk implementation and helps lay the foundation for performance trending and predictive analytics. RUM technology can usually be purchased independently aside from acquiring an entire APM solution set of technologies.
Larry Dragich
Director EAS, Auto Club Group

The business is to deliver a service to end-users. Focusing on monitoring back-end performance without end-user experience misses the point. The best barometer for business impact is real user experience – anything that does not affect end-users can be safely de-prioritized.
Benjamin Newton
Senior Manager, Application Management Marketing, BMC Software

5. Utilize Predictive Analytics

Advanced predictive analytics for APM can pick up on first occurrences of issues that, if left unattended, can bring down business critical systems. This type of solution pays for itself.
Michael Azoff
Principal Analyst, Ovum

6. Meet the needs of the application owner

When deciding how to monitor transactions, work with application owners to define transactions which will have meaning.
Denny LeCompte
VP of Product Management, SolarWinds

The most important thing is to gather requirements from the application owner and be sure to monitor what matters to them. It is too easy to deploy an APM solution and monitor the "piece parts" e.g. application server performance, virtualization, networks, etc. and miss the big picture that you aren't really reporting on the performance of for example, the "payment application". End user monitoring is a good start in that it at least captures the user's experience. But not all applications have users, and user experience does not equate to root cause analysis. A good APM deployment should monitor what matters to the application owner and provide the diagnostic and predictive information required to ensure downtime and slow performance are kept to a minimum.
Charley Rich
VP Marketing and Product Management, Nastel Technologies

7. Invest in training

In my interviews with end users of even wildly successful APM solutions, most stressed the fact that "the more you put into learning the tool, the more you get out of it." If you're investing $100K in a tool, go the extra mile and spend $5K on training. It can make the difference between letting $100K "go down the drain" as shelfware OR getting $200K of value from a product that cost half that much.
Julie Craig
Research Director - Application Management, EMA

8. Look for Tools with Ease of Deployment and Management

Organizations are reporting the management cost of APM solutions to be the number three overall challenge in managing application performance. When purchasing APM solutions organizations should be aware of: 1) the number of hours required to deploy the solution and integrating it with other IT management tools; 2) the time and resources spent on adjusting APM tools to changes in application environments (new applications, changes of application features, etc.); and 3) the amount of overhead that an APM tool will create in both production and pre-production. Selecting APM solutions that are strong in each of these areas can significantly reduce the cost of implementing APM technologies.
Bojan Simic
President and Principal Analyst, TRAC Research

First, to reduce TCO and increase ROI, you need to make sure the tool can be installed and configured fast. Secondly, you need to make sure that the tool can be deployed by IT Operations, independently, without any need of assistance from the application engineering teams. Not doing so will result in increased effort, longer deployment time and expensive engineering resources involved in the process, increasing TCO and reducing ROI.
Nir Livni
VP of Products, Correlsense

Pick an APM solution that doesn't rely on an application or APM expert to configure, deploy and use it. A solution that auto-discovers, learns and monitors what is relevant in an application is one that will incrementally deliver ROI because its value isn't tied to a user's skill set or expertise. If an APM solution requires onsite APM consultants at $350 an hour, this cost is often overlooked and can make ROI near impossible to achieve as your APM deployment grows over-time.
Stephen Burton
Tech Evangelist, AppDynamics

Use an APM solution that has a high degree of automation for deployment and day-to-day operational tasks.
Yogen Patel
VP of Marketing, Zyrion

Don't become the tool administrator. APM tool administration should take no more than 10% of one FTEs time. One way to reduce administration time is to deploy agentless monitoring technology. An agent is another piece of software that needs to be installed, upgraded and there are often pre-requisites and compatibility issues. Agentless technology can be deployed in hours versus years for agent based technology.
Denny LeCompte
VP of Product Management, SolarWinds

9. Focus on a revenue-draining application

Decide on the application that costs you the most in staff productivity and loses you the most revenue in terms of customer satisfaction. Then only collect this information - i.e. the end user experience - and drive your IT department and suppliers to fix this. This can cost as little as 3K but could save you millions.
Zubair Aleem
Managing Director, Quadnet Services

10. Focus on a strategic application

Don't try to instrument everything, pick strategic targets to start implementing.
Jonah Kowall
Research Director, Gartner

Many modern application initiatives require a new approach to APM, including mobile, cloud and other Web 2.0 projects. Organizations should validate their APM investments are future-proof and will deliver value to all APM stakeholders by targeting one of these strategic projects instead of a "big bang" purchase. Once the value of the APM offering is proved out, organizations can then look for broader adoption across their application portfolio.
Steve Tack
CTO, Compuware APM Business Unit

11. Establish a Baseline and Track ROI

Start with a thorough baseline assessment, because you can't measure ROI without knowing your current performance levels and associated costs.
Jeffrey Kaplan
Managing Director of THINKstrategies and Founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace

Companies need some way to set and measure service levels for each application. You need to determine acceptable availability, health and risk levels according to each application's impact on the business and the bottom line. And then you need to be able to measure these levels in real-time and trended over time to determine the best way to deploy your resources to meet SLAs and show ROI for the APM tools you are using.
Julia Lim
VP of Marketing, ScienceLogic

Most implementations focus on technical metrics – standing up solution, implementing features, etc. Very few implementations of APM measure and track the ROI of the solution and the true business value. Create a central team with technical subject matter experts, project management, and business analysts that track business value and metrics. In addition, focus on feature implementations that provide the most business value in the shortest amount of time.
Benjamin Newton
Senior Manager, Application Management Marketing, BMC Software

12. Monitor Continuously

Many APM solutions function in a passive mode, tracking mostly high-level metrics and basic KPIs, waiting for a pre-defined exception to occur. Only then is a more active monitoring mode entered. Tier metrics are not a reflection of transaction health and have little to do with the end-user experience. On the other hand, continuous monitoring solutions identify the exact performance details at each step that the application executes in order to quickly isolate problems. They will start surfacing trouble spots within hours of deployment, without any guidance from the end-users, leading to faster ROI.
Linh Ho
VP of Corporate Marketing, OpTier

Note from the Editor: Thanks to all the experts who contributed to this list. APMdigest received a lot of great content on this topic, and we will be including another batch of valuable tips in an upcoming list - Ways APM Can Save You Money.

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