5 Reasons Application Performance Management Fails
March 27, 2015

Jonah Kowall
Kentik

Share this

After speaking to thousands of Application Performance Management (APM) users during my time with Gartner, I have seen the following 5 key issues that cause APM failures:

1. Organizational immaturity

The first cause of failure is the silos in many of today’s organizations. There are often too many stakeholders involved in APM decision-making, ranging from application support, server teams, network teams, database teams (DBAs), application developers, and various architects across the organization.

We’re also seeing more non-technical users, such as the business owner of an application interested in seeing usage and performance data on critical Business Transactions within the application. These business users will become a more central user of APM in the future.

It’s critical to identify the primary user of the product, and determine requirements focused on those primary users. Secondary users can have input but should not be the ones driving the key decision points. As products mature, they can sell into multiple areas or even cross sell through teams, but it shouldn’t be the focus of the initial implementation.

2. Ownership

Typically the excitement of an APM solution, the added visibility, and capabilities presented with an implementation provide immense value to operations, application support, and development. The implementation — if you select an easy to implement product — normally proceeds without many issues, and there is a clear owner or stakeholders of the product.

Over time, as roles and business direction changes, often APM loses its key owner. The result of this is that the product isn’t maintained or used day to day. The way to avoid this is to make the executives key stakeholders. As APM and Application Intelligence will become critical to business decision-making, changing what’s often been the fate of older APM products.

3. Application Complexity

APM tools are installed for two reasons. If APM is strategic it’s implemented during development or implementation of a project. The second driver for APM implementation is when the pain threshold gets too high, and something is needed to see the production environment to remediate issues. The lack of understanding or visibility in applications, both old and new, is normally the first benefit. You’ll often hear: “I didn’t know this was connecting to that?”

Issues occur within changing applications for two primary reasons. First, demands of business model changes driven by greater customer demand or higher volumes of data. The second reason for change is feature requests, requiring application changes. These two reasons for change can be distilled down to scale and complexity, making it harder to identify and correct issues (or passing this data to development to make corrective changes to the software).

4. Engineering Skills Required

With yesterday’s APM tools, the implementations were incredibly complex and time consuming. This was due to the amount of tuning and customization enterprises required. Companies which have failed in APM were normally due to having too heavy a services engagement. This has caused the likes of Optier to completely go out of business, and ITOM giants to rethink how they approach the market. Many of these companies even have staff members who would work full time at customer sites to keep the products up and running. These are often seen as benefits to the buyer, but eventually they become burdens.

Applications both in the enterprise and customer worlds have become easy to buy, implement, and show the value of the technology. This has permeated IT products as well. Buyers expect things to be easy and show value quickly. The APM winners today, and for the future build easy to implement products, and refuse to customize them or push a heavy services engagement.

The key is enabling customers, and not offloading the work of using the product or providing staff augmentation. If you are looking at managed services, select the right technology first, and then the managed services provider.

Many legacy APM tools are far too complex, with countless config files and GUI features to tune in order to get value out of the investment. You shouldn’t need to be a senior technologist to get results. Today’s modern tools are easy to understand, and often present information in a way that level-1 operations engineers get value from them.

5. Focus on the wrong thing

Selecting APM technology isn’t just about meeting the needs of your application today, but thinking about the future state of the applications and infrastructures. What is considered experimental and bleeding edge eventually become standard components of traditional enterprise applications. We’ve already seen this happen with PHP, and we’re beginning to see this with other languages. Today you may be a Java shop on VMware, and possibly even a PHP user on LAMP, but in the future you will likely be a node.js shop, possibly running on a public PaaS.

Most organizational leaders have a strategy for both private and public cloud, where areas of business innovation and differentiation tend to be built on public clouds. This is the reason Gartner states that “IT spending on public cloud services is growing more than five times faster than growth in IT spending across all categories.”

Similarly, your organization may not have a large mobile investment today, but I can assure you will in the future. In order to handle these shifts many applications are moving from a single programming language to being composed of multiple languages. These technology shifts are requiring people with new broader skills, or people who can learn new skills quickly. The path towards the full stack developer or IT operations generalist show many are evolving to meet these new challenges to meet business agility requirements.

Regardless whether these proof points or discussions match your organization, the ability to support past investments, existing investments, but most importantly future investments, is critical when selecting APM technologies. Areas of growth and innovation are critical to senior management, hence will provide the most value to the business. These challenges are being addressed by the APM innovators. Keep that in mind when selecting application management technology, keeping in mind the depth and context of the monitoring and analytics.

Jonah Kowall is CTO of Kentik
Share this

The Latest

September 19, 2019

You must dive into various aspects or themes of services so that you can gauge authentic user experience. There are usually five main themes that the customer thinks of when experiencing a service ...

September 18, 2019

Service desks teams use internally focused performance-based metrics more than many might think. These metrics are essential and remain relevant, but they do not provide any insight into the user experience. To gain actual insight into user satisfaction, you need to change your metrics. The question becomes: How do I efficiently change my metrics? Then, how do you best go about it? ...

September 17, 2019

The skills gap is a very real issue impacting today's IT professionals. In preparation for IT Pro Day 2019, celebrated on September 17, 2019, SolarWinds explored this skills gap by surveying technology professionals around the world to understand their needs and how organizations are addressing these needs ...

September 16, 2019

Top performing organizations (TPOs) in managing IT Operations are experiencing significant operational and business benefits such as 5.9x shorter average Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR) per incident as compared to all other organizations, according to a new market study from Digital Enterprise Journal ...

September 12, 2019

Multichannel marketers report that mobile-friendly websites have emerged as a dominant engagement channel for their brands, according to Gartner. However, Gartner research has found that too many organizations build their mobile websites without accurate knowledge about, or regard for, their customer's mobile preferences ...

September 11, 2019

Do you get excited when you discover a new service from one of the top three public clouds or a new public cloud provider? I do. But every time you feel excited about new cloud offerings, you should also feel a twinge of fear. Because in the tech world, each time we introduce something new we also add a new point of failure for our application and potentially a service we are stuck with. This is why thinking about the long-tail cloud for your organization is important ...

September 10, 2019

A solid start to migration can be approached three ways — all of which are ladder up to adopting a Software Intelligence strategy ...

September 09, 2019

Many aren't doing the due diligence needed to properly assess and facilitate a move of applications to the cloud. This is according to the recent 2019 Cloud Migration Report which revealed half of IT leaders at banks, insurance and telecommunications companies do not conduct adequate risk assessments prior to moving apps over to the cloud. Essentially, they are going in blind and expecting everything to turn out ok. Spoiler alert: It doesn't ...

September 05, 2019

Research conducted by Aite Group uncovered more than 80 global eCommerce sites that were actively being compromised by Magecart groups, according to a new report, In Plain Sight II: On the Trail of Magecart ...

September 04, 2019

In this blog, I'd like to expand beyond the TAP and look at the role Packet Brokers play in an organization's visibility architecture. Here are 5 common mistakes that are made when deploying Packet Brokers, and how to avoid them ...