In Part Two of APMdigest's exclusive interview, Jim Rapoza, Aberdeen Senior Research Analyst on IT Infrastructure, talks about what he sees as the greatest challenge to APM today: mobile application performance management.
APM: Is there particular functionality that is commonly missing, that is keeping companies from achieving the end-to-end APM vision from a technology standpoint?
JR: I would say the two biggest missing pieces are Cloud and mobile. The industry is getting closer on the Cloud side. Last year and the year before Cloud was the big problem, especially for the old school traditional network monitoring optimization tools, because for them a virtual system is a black hole, they cannot really see into it. So we have seen a lot of the vendors address Cloud and virtual systems. While it still is a challenge area, there has been movement there.
I think the next big hurdle is mobile. Everybody knew that mobile was going to be one of the main ways that applications would be consumed, but I think it's happening faster than many people expected. So especially over the course of this year there has been a big push to understand mobile.
Mobile apps are not the same as traditional apps. There is a wide diversity of devices and operating systems, and these all impact performance in ways that traditional APM and other performance management tools don't see. Mobile is the big new challenge on the APM side, and many vendors are moving quickly to find ways to address mobile apps.
APM: In your August 2012 report about mobile application performance, you noted that most organizations are identifying problems after the fact. Is this because they don't have the right tools to monitor mobile apps in real time?
JR: Yes. We are starting to see more visibility now but even a few months ago, and definitely a year ago, the traditional approach was that you only knew what was happening in your own servers.
With mobile apps, companies tended to do a lot of testing up front and then throw it out there and hope it works. And I've heard from several companies that the first time they know something is wrong with mobile is when they see complaints on Twitter or Facebook or they start getting bad reviews on the App Store.
If you look through the announcements from the big players in the last 2 to 3 months, you see a lot of talk about mobile. They are working to have higher visibility and better understanding of the mobile experience.
APM: Real-time mobile performance monitoring tools are out there now, correct?
JR: Yes, but many of the companies have not implemented them yet. Some of the tools on the mobile side are relatively new. The ability to address all mobile performance monitoring in real-time - some of those capabilities are just being added.
In the past, you could monitor a certain amount in real-time, but not to the full extent that you could with traditional apps. The new tools you are seeing now are bringing mobile up to par. So everything you could do with traditional apps you will be able to do with mobile as well. There is a definite focus on real-time because that plays to figuring out issues, fixing issues, and keeping applications up.
APM: This is essentially a crisis. APM tools need to offer this. Do you foresee when most APM vendors will be able to handle mobile performance?
JR: I think by the end of this year you are going to see a good percentage of APM vendors that have significantly boosted their mobile capabilities. I would think by mid-time next year, 80% of performance management should offer mobile management comparable to what they offer on the traditional app side.
And the mobile performance management should be even better than APM for traditional apps. In a lot of cases, especially in the business context, mobile access is more important than traditional access today. The sales guy in the field is trying to close a deal and he is trying to pull numbers from the corporate CRM on his tablet or smart phone. If he is having problems, then that sale may not go through.
100% of APM vendors should be making that move, because I don't hear from anyone that mobile is not important.
APM: And will there be broad adoption on the user side next year as well?
JR: In the report, a high number said they expect to be doing mobile performance management in the next year. 55% are looking to monitor mobile transactions in real-time, and 14% are currently doing it, so that would be close to 70%.
APM: I found it interesting in the report that you said only 42% of organizations plan to do performance testing on mobile apps during development. Shouldn't that number be 100%? What am I missing?
JR: Yes it should be. They should be doing functionality testing too. And most APM testing tools offer that.
There was a certain number that are already doing testing. When you add the numbers together it is almost 70% who are currently or planning to do performance testing on mobile apps. But you would think it would be 100%.
Some companies don't test all their apps. Partly because these types of load testing tools have traditionally been very expensive and difficult to use. For some companies it may be a resource issue.
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