Gartner Q&A: Jonah Kowall Talks About APM - Part 1
April 22, 2014
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In Part 1 of APMdigest's exclusive interview, Jonah Kowall, Research Vice President, IT Operations Management at Gartner, discusses Gartner's 2013 Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring (APM), and APM hot topics including SaaS and Mobile.

APM: What do you see as the most significant changes in the market between the release of Gartner's 2012 and 2013 Magic Quadrants for APM?

JK: We have seen increased acceleration and investment by some of the smaller players in the space. In addition, the use of analytics technology has further differentiated offerings in the Application Performance Monitoring (APM) market.

And, of course, we have seen a greater importance on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery. We definitely see more end-user organizations implementing SaaS. I think that trend will continue, hence the relative weighting of SaaS and analytics will be increasing year over year for the APM Magic Quadrant.

APM: Is the growth of SaaS APM living up to the expectations many of us set for it a year or two ago?

JK: SaaS is not for everyone. It is definitely a subset of the market today. Solutions which offer differentiation because of the delivery model, or solutions which give you a choice of the same product in both delivery models, appeal more to buyers.

Additionally, SaaS helps shorten the buying cycle, meaning POCs can be executed much more efficiently, and customers can see value quickly, even if they decide longer-term that they may want to move on-premise.

APM: The requirements for Gartner's Magic Quadrant for APM continue to say "some features of the APM offering must be available via a SaaS delivery model" rather than requiring full feature SaaS. At some point, do you foresee the APM Magic Quadrant requiring every vendor to offer the full product as a service?

JK: We require that vendors have a least some functionality in SaaS. In 2012, we allowed a third party to provide the SaaS, and in 2013 we required that the vendors themselves provide SaaS.

Looking forward, we definitely do see most of the players in the APM Magic Quadrant offering more of their full solution as a service, so I wouldn't be surprised to see that requirement continue to expand.

APM: Do you have any stats on how much productivity can be increased by using APM SaaS?

JK: There have not been any studies conducted and I think that it would be hard to determine what that number is. It also depends on the complexity of the product.

Some solutions are very straightforward to implement, in terms of infrastructure requirements, meaning the server that collects the data from the agents. Other solutions can be more complex and require many components, especially at scale. It really varies on the vendor solution in terms of the complexity of the infrastructure requirements.

APM: But you do see an advantage to APM as a service?

Yes. There is no question upgrades may be painful. One area of complication is when customizations or integrations have been made with other products. By offering APM as a service, the customer is automatically upgraded without having to deal with the upgrade process. The agents are normally backwards compatible, but at least the user interface and functionality will remain current without putting in the extra work.

The other piece is that SaaS products integrate with well-formed APIs because they have been designed that way, since they are remotely delivered. When you have on-premise software, customization and integration often takes the form of either custom code or integrations that are not as well formed in terms of the APIs that are available.

SaaS providers have to keep some level of API compatibility in order for integration. That is definitely not the case with on-premise, and we have seen that be an issue with keeping customers on current revisions of software. If the software is not kept up to date, the customer eventually gets disgruntled with the fact that it doesn't support the new technologies or there are bugs that do not get fixed. It ultimately ends up reflecting poorly on the vendor, even if the solution, in its current version, fixes a lot of the issues that the users dislike. SaaS solves these issues.

APM: It seems like a lot of these productivity issues are maintenance oriented?

JK: Yes, it is the work that the ops guys need to do to keep current on the versions of the software. Enterprises often skip a major version of software and go to the next one. That is something we see a lot. For example, with Windows, many enterprises deployed Windows XP and then Windows 7, and skipped Windows Vista. We are seeing a lot of the same type of approach to APM. But the vendors don't expect enterprises to skip major versions. If you try to upgrade from version 5 to version 7, for example, it can cause problems because there is a pretty significant gap between those major versions.

APM: Your 2013 APM Magic Quadrant says "Mobile APM is the next wave of innovation" but it seems to be taking longer than we all expected.

JK: In 2013, we didn't really see mobile APM products that were actually giving “true APM”. We have had synthetic testing products that do mobile for quite a while, but that is a completely different value proposition from APM, which lives inside the application. So when I say "mobile APM", I am really talking about the same type of APM that looks inside applications, not the type of synthetic end user experience that just tries to emulate a user.

So even a year ago from today we just started to see early versions of true APM products for mobile coming out. This market has not been around very long. Solution providers typically have a revenue goal in mind when they release these products, and most of the mobile APM solutions out there exceeded any of the goals that were set.

APM: When do you feel Mobile APM will become truly mainstream, to the point where it drives the APM market?

JK: The demand is there because of the growth and diversity of mobile applications themselves. There are a lot of mobile apps out there, so it is going to take a while to actually proliferate through enough of the development organizations to be what I would call "mainstream". I would say that true Mobile APM is probably a couple of years off from being mainstream by any stretch of the imagination, but it is definitely growing in adoption and we are seeing new and interesting solutions coming to market.

Gartner Q&A: Jonah Kowall Talks About APM - Part 2

In Part 2, Jonah Kowall discusses Gartner's 2013 Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring (APM), complexity in today's product offerings, and the market's move to simplify APM.

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