2021 Application Performance Management Predictions - Part 2
December 10, 2020
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Industry experts — from analysts and consultants to users and the top vendors — offer thoughtful, insightful, and often controversial predictions on how APM and related technologies will evolve and impact business in 2021. Part 2 covers APM and Observability.

Start with: 2021 Application Performance Management Predictions - Part 1


Traditional APM will continue its decline in importance and mindshare as cloud-native observability subsumes traditional APM. In particular, agentless approaches that leverage open telemetry will increasingly supplant agented APM. Agents will still have a role, but they will be relegated to legacy environments that aren't properly observable.
Jason Bloomberg
President, Intellyx

The lines between APM and Observability will blur, especially as APM solutions "move" into Observability. Successful DevOps teams will focus in on solutions that use the best practices of observability tactics and APM tools together, centered around automation across the monitoring lifecycle, context throughout monitoring and taking intelligent actions through deep analytics and automated root cause analysis/troubleshooting. Ultimately, Dev and Ops teams will have options where single solutions will be able to bring the best of both worlds — observability and application monitoring.
Chris Farrell
APM and Observability Strategist, Instana

APM will increasingly focus on aggregate interaction behaviors among connected services instead of the performance of individual transactions. As more and more services are connected to form a service landscape, the majority of performance degradations stems from environmental factors such as noisy neighbors, ripple effects, feedback looks. Next-gen observability and control will tackle these and thus allow real-time performance management, not just monitoring.
Tobias Kunze
CEO and Co-Founder, Glasnostic

The shift to digital services due to Covid-19 has underscored the importance of observability into cloud applications. Next year, and beyond, APM will become even more critical as businesses migrate to the cloud, expand into new distributed systems, and serve their customers through digital channels. Consequently, usage of APM tools may increase among business-oriented employees such as project/program managers. Convergence will be a key theme with an emphasis on end-to-end tracing and full stack observability, combined with tool and vendor consolidation.
Renaud Boutet
VP of Product, Datadog

In 2020, more enterprises leaned on observability as the pandemic forced all businesses to be digital businesses. The ability to view the entire software stack is now a must-have within complex IT and development environments and during continued cloud migration. In 2021, the use of traditional application performance management will continue to decline — and observability will rise to the occasion and fuel post-pandemic digital innovation. But there is more work to be done to adapt observability to tomorrow's business and IT needs. Modern enterprises will increasingly look for observability platforms that have three fundamental traits — those that are open, connected, and programmable.
Bill Staples
CPO, New Relic

The future of Application Performance Management (APM) lies with analyzing and correlating the three most significant verticals of observability; distributed traces, logs, and metrics; in one single console, along with artificial intelligence capabilities. Doing this will greatly aid organizations in proactive and predictive analysis to avert the occurrence of an issue altogether, instead of being reactive after it has already occurred.
Rahul Varshneya Co-Founder and President, Arkenea

Observability will become the next frontier of value stream delivery platforms. Observability happens at the intersect between tracing, logging and metrics. This kind of logic has long-lived on the IT Operations end of the SDLC — relegated to APM and monitoring tools largely focused on end-user experience. But with the continuous nature of DevOps amplified by VSM, the implications for testing and observability earlier in the software lifecycle could be a game changer.
Kristin Baskett
Senior Manager, Product Marketing, CloudBees


In 2021 innovators of APM technologies must integrate with OpenTelemetry, those who do not evolve will see major customer defection because of their lack of scale and data diversity.
Jonah Kowall
CTO, Logz.io

Listen to special guest Jonah Kowall on the AI+ITOPS Podcast


Apps shouldn't be left to their own devices. The way that people build applications is evolving very quickly, from applications that live in a Java virtual machine in the datacenter to a model where it's entirely in the cloud composes a series of services. And you need to be able to monitor that application that's now mostly in the cloud, talking to mobile devices. That 180-degree change is naturally driving rapid adoption of observability tools.
Tim Tully
CTO, Splunk

Download a complimentary copy of the Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring from Splunk

The role of a DevOps practitioner and SRE has changed more this year than in the last several years combined, simply due to the changing work environment and pressure from internal stakeholders and customers to deliver better experiences, more value, and ultimately better business results. As teams adapt to this software-defined world to meet the demands, they must invest in tools that allow them to continuously understand not only what is happening in the system but why it's happening to increase reliability and prevent incidents. Intelligent observability will prove actionable insights, the why, freeing their time to focus on innovation and value. Understanding the why behind the what will allow them to make stronger data-informed decisions to thrive in 2021 and beyond.
Adam Frank
VP of Product and Design, Moogsoft

Download the eBook Observability with AIOps from Moogsoft

Observability will be key. Broader observability will be a strategic priority as companies develop more complex systems and expand their technology infrastructures. As businesses accelerate their digital transformation journeys in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, their environments have become more complex than ever. By using observability solutions to pull meaningful data from logs, metrics, traces and events — developers can shift from monitoring everything, to monitoring the data and insights that will impact business outcomes most significantly.
Angie Mistretta
CMO, AppDynamics

See more predictions from Angie Mistretta on APMdigest

Observability will become mainstream and drive next generation software development, forcing software developers to think beyond coding and consider platform aspects such as Chaos Engineering and API access during software development. Data collected, studied and used through Observability will break the barriers between operations and development and help drive agility to meet business needs and competitive challenges, front and center.
Bhanu Singh
VP Product Development and Cloud Operations, OpsRamp

Listen to special guest Bhanu Singh on the AI+ITOPS Podcast


AIOps (Intelligence driven by machine algorithms ) will become the fourth integral pillar of Observability along with logs, metrics and traces. AIOps will merge telemetry data in real-time to drive overall predictive and prescriptive analytics and real-time automation, improving system availability, performance and MTTR.
Bhanu Singh
VP Product Development and Cloud Operations, OpsRamp

Read Bhanu Singh's recent blog on APMdigest: IT Now Viewed as Strategic Differentiator During COVID-19

In 2021, there will be shift to a holistic architecture-driven approach, bringing together the entire capability chain from the observability stack, analytics, intelligent automation and collaboration.
Jayanti Murti
CTO, Digitate


The software systems are much more distributed for the sake of speed and resilience, but it makes them much more complicated to understand the issues when faced in production. Applications are not owned by siloed teams of developers and ops folks in modern applications. The notion of "you build it, you run it" forces developers to take the responsibility of the production application and guarantee the availability. For this reason, I expect the acceleration of "shift left" in observability tools and practices. It won't be surprising to see application teams taking observability seriously in the pre-production phase. We are also about to see a persona change of the users of observability tools. Instead of ops folks and their discipline of understanding issues, metric charts, and log files, distributed tracing tools and production debugging will become much handier for developers before and after production.
Emrah Samdan
VP of Product, Thundra


As our industry has developed, the focus has been primarily on the complexity of interdependent computer systems, layers of the stack, and the ever-expanding innovations that shift that landscape. In 2021, the observability solutions that begin to take root will focus on the constant layer beneath the systems: the network of interrelated teams that build and support those systems to deliver remarkable experiences to other human beings. Helping humans see, connect, collaborate, and generously serve other humans will mark success in our sector. That looks like use cases over features and focusing on saving people time.
Joel Worrall
Senior Director, Open Source, New Relic


Gone are the days of overheard conversations, quick touchpoints and reading body language to determine if someone is struggling. As we continue to work remotely, these natural observations become difficult to see and understand. In an IT environment, these missed observations can lead to toil, confusion of who owns what and have a negative customer impact. But with observability, teams have the data to obtain the information needed to collaborate, optimize and know when someone is crying wolf. Observability and AI unite the machine data with the human data to enable distributed "working from home" (WFH) in a productive way like we've never seen before. As a result, people around the world can focus more on delivering customer value with the quick insights and context that AI and observability provide.
Adam Frank
VP of Product and Design, Moogsoft

Read Adam Frank's recent blog on APMdigest: Move Over Siloed IT Workflows, Intelligent Observability Is the Hub of Context and Collaboration


In previous years, observability was usually regarded as the buzzword for monitoring. I believe that perception has finally changed, and the tech world started to grasp the difference and the need for observability in distributed systems. Observability is the state of your system that lets you ask questions using a set of tools such as traces, metrics, and logs and tactics such as distributed tracing, production debugging, and more. On the other hand, monitoring is the action of tracking the health of the system by keeping an eye on a specific set of metrics. It doesn't typically let you ask new questions but motivates by giving answers quickly on known issues. There's a wrong perception that application teams think that both monitoring and observability are post-production issues. So, they generally figure out the necessity of having a complete set of tools for this purpose at the very end of the software development cycle. I can clearly see that this is going to change in 2021 and the following years.
Emrah Samdan
VP of Product, Thundra


With community driven initiatives gaining momentum, open source will continue to disrupt the traditional vendors with proprietary technologies. At least 3 open source based observability vendors will be acquired in 2021. Open source will be the de facto set of tools DevOps teams need, resulting in major platform launches around these new technologies. In 2021 we will see the year of open source observability become feasible at scale.
Jonah Kowall
CTO, Logz.io

Go to: 2021 Application Performance Management Predictions - Part 3, covering monitoring

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