APM On-Premise vs SaaS - Part 1: The Rise of Cloud-Based APM
August 22, 2014

Julie Craig

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In a past blog, I called today’s enterprise application landscape “a dog’s breakfast” as far as complexity and heterogeneity are concerned. A growing number of APM vendors would likely agree. Regardless of whether you are on the vendor or the consumer side, application management — as opposed to simple application monitoring — is an inherently difficult task.

Perhaps for this reason, enterprise-grade Application Performance Management solutions — those capable of monitoring, correlating and triaging integrated, distributed applications while quantifying end to end performance — have traditionally had a reputation for being complex and difficult to deploy. Virtually every enterprise-sized company is supporting a mix of applications written in multiple languages, running on different OSs, anchored by exotic technologies such as caching and acceleration and — just to put the whipped cream on the sundae — increasingly extending into the public cloud. Monitoring each of these components in context to end-to-end execution can be a daunting proposition – which is why APM products tend to be more complex to deploy than, say, a server monitoring tool.

That being said, an increasing number of IT organizations are seeking an alternative, and, not surprisingly, an increasing number of vendors are now offering “APM as a Service”. The idea of harvesting the honey without working to gather the pollen is attractive. SaaS-based APM eliminates much of the “manage the management tools” administrative work traditionally associated with on-premise-hosted toolsets. Which is a good thing, since many potential APM customers are seriously considering a “cloud first” approach.

Consider the following findings from EMA surveys of IT professionals:

■ The average enterprise-sized company requires 2 to 3 IT specialists to “manage the management tools”

■ When asked how many enterprise management tools their companies own, survey responses range from 0 to 2,500. The average number is 50.

■ On average, 70% of the products owned are in use; the remaining 30% are “shelfware”—basically wasted budget

■ More than 30% of companies are running “distributed hybrid cloud applications spanning on-premise and public Cloud”—and 40% are delivering at least one production application via SaaS

■ Despite broad use of public cloud services, more companies are using “homegrown tools” (40%) than “application management enterprise platforms” (39%). to monitor and manage them.

■ Fewer than 50% of companies have, as yet, invested in full-blown enterprise APM platforms. Instead, most are managing applications with homegrown tools or one-off End User Experience (EUE) products that monitor a single dimension of application performance — such as response time – from the browser, network, or synthetic transaction perspective. Without comprehensive visibility to both application execution and underlying infrastructure components, root cause analysis is essentially a manual process.

■ And when asked about their most important considerations in selecting new enterprise management tools, the top three selection factors are:
1: Cloud- hosted versus on- premise hosted product
2: Cloud-ready (support for monitoring cloud-hosted applications and services)
3: Mobile-ready (While Mobile applications are considered one of today’s hottest topics, mobile monitoring capabilities came in a distant third).

While each of these findings is compelling on its own, taken together they provide an encapsulation of the factors which are REALLY driving the APM market:

1. Companies are seeking the convenience of SaaS and PaaS in their management toolsets Particularly as applications grow more complex, more sophisticated tools and higher skill levels are required to manage them. IT executives, in particular, are concerned about their ability to find and hire personnel with the right skills. These concerns extend to the maintenance and administration of enterprise management tools assets, and the majority appear to prefer to “leave the driving” (in terms of tools deployment and administration) to APM vendors.

2. While companies are embracing public cloud as a viable alternative to on-premise application hosting, most have not adequately invested in the tools necessary to manage cloud services. There appears to be significant pent up demand for cloud-ready APM tools. The volume of the demand will continue to grow until CIOs either tire of allocating scarce IT personnel resources to writing homegrown management tools — or until a critical application fails once too often

3. With APM still under-automated even for on-premise applications, there is also pent up demand for products supporting internally-hosted applications. This is particularly true since it appears that many CIOs simply aren’t interested in taking on additional administrative overhead, regardless of the value proposition.

Read Part 2: Selecting an APM Solution

Julie Craig is Research Director for Application Management at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA)
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