In APMdigest's exclusive interview, Dennis Drogseth, VP of Research at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), talks about the APA market, and the recently released EMA Radar for Advanced Performance Analytics (APA) Use Cases: Q4 2012.
APM: Let's start be defining APA.
APA is about Big Data. Huge volumes of data coming out of what I would call the service performance management space – tools that have evolved to manage the performance of applications and other services. APA assimilates that Big Data in near real-time, and uses a lot of advanced heuristics to do predictive or least innovative ways of looking at problems.
APM: Are the capabilities to analyze Big Data, in real-time, and produce predictive results the 3 main defining characteristics that differentiate APA from traditional analytics?
DD: That's true, although I would add other potential attributes such as “self-learning” and “discovering the unobvious.”
But I can hear BI analysts saying that BI tools are evolving to deliver in real-time. All the 22 vendors in the APA Radar Report came out of performance management, they did not come out of the data warehousing. So the DNA is different. It is really a heritage statement, in part that requires Big Data, heuristics and some real-time, either predictive or strong analytic value add.
And APA is not limited to real-time either. Some of these solutions have very strong historical analytics. One even has its own internal OLAP cube. This is why a lot of analysts so far haven’t looked at APA. It is more of a biological thing – sort of how species evolve – than it is a lovely little mathematical definition.
APM: Do you consider APA as a subset of Application Performance Management (APM), or a totally separate market
DD: I would consider it separate but not totally separate. In APA, “A” stands for “advanced” not “application.” I am not saying there isn’t a strong overlap, but the two are not the same. You could make a case that APA is more accurately a subset of “service” performance.
The way I would define APM is certainly smaller than the span of APA. APA is more sprawling and more unruly than APM, in some respects. But there are a lot of APM capabilities that are not APA, such as basic monitoring. Maybe the best way to summarize is that I see APA as a child of APM and service management that will grow up to be bigger than they are in the future.
APM: It seems to me that you would almost have to have APA for APM, to make APM work today, to deal with Big Data and the other issues.
DD: To be competitive, yes. Not all of the 22 vendors in the Radar Report would claim to be APM, but for the ones who would, one of the factors that makes them more competitive is some APA capabilities. Yes, I would say it is a competitive differentiator for APM. But it is not limited to APM.
APM: Do users always buy APA separately or does it come with an APM solution?
DD: The goal of the radar is to show that APA can come in many different forms. In some cases, like Netuitive, it is primarily an overlay, and that general approach — to leverage APA by assimilating many different pre-existing data sources — is growing more and more. But in most cases, APA is part of a suite of solutions, many or most of which do some of their own monitoring, or can at least collect data directly.
APA: In your recent blog on APMdigest, you said “By Q4 of last year I realized that the industry was at an APA turning point.” What was the turning point?
DD: The turning point for me was when both IBM and HP introduced Netuitive-like functionality in Q4 of 2011. They introduced analytic overlays that would feed off third-party sources as well as their own solutions. And of course you could argue the same was true when ProactiveNet was acquired by BMC.
To tell you the truth, I have been watching Netuitive, along with other APA innovators, for years, and I have been waiting for the industry to move more in that direction. And in Q4 last year I saw the ship is beginning to sail – or at least it is leaving the dock.
APM: What has caused this new drive toward APA?
DD: That's a good question. What are the drivers? The need for more cross domain capabilities, for one. If you think about how performance management has evolved, it began with a lot of point solution tools. Niche tools. But unfortunately they were targeted at very narrow spans, and sometimes device specific. You can no longer run an IT organization based on a lot of siloed tools that only look at one domain in isolation.
The other driver is the increasing pressure for IT to become more efficient and deliver value as well as cost efficiencies to the business, which includes a much more enlightened summary of what is going on than was available in the past.
One of the factors that has sort of doomed the BSM acronym was its association with long, protracted, costly deployments that would take years to evolve. That is not how IT organizations can function anymore. So another driver is to have a much more dynamic, self-aware, self-learning capabilities.
Yet another driver for APA has been the need to manage more eclectic environments – thanks to Cloud computing. Cloud is often a mosaic of service provider infrastructures and internal IT infrastructures – Cloud and non-Cloud. How do you bring that all together and understand that from an effective, service-centric point of view?
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