Q&A: IDC Talks About APM
February 20, 2014
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In APMdigest's exclusive interview, Mary Johnston Turner, Research Vice President in IDC's Enterprise System Management Software practice, discusses Application Performance Management and related topics covered in recent IDC reports including IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Production APM Software as a Service 2013 Vendor Analysis.

APM: How do emerging technologies – particularly mobile and social business – drive an increased need for APM?

MJT: Over the last several years, application environments have become much more dynamic due to the adoption of virtualization, cloud, mobility, social business and big data.

Mobility and social business provide end users a new level of personalization and real-time applications but end user experiences can be unpredictable given the myriad of mobile devices, browsers and apps that are available. Mobile and social apps tend to be released quickly and updated continually so developers and service providers need to know immediately if there are problems with the code or if users are experiencing unexpected problems.

With all the complexity and interdependencies in today's environments it can be difficult to rapidly isolate the source of problems and to provide developers and IT operations team with enough of the right kind of information so that they can remediate those problems quickly.

In contrast to older APM solutions that were often difficult to configure and maintain, a new generation of APM solutions is emerging that is more suited to the needs of modern mobile and social applications environments. They are designed to be used by a wide range of IT operations, development and line of business professionals and are easier to deploy and manage while still providing sophisticated information about the status of the code, the browser, the mobile app and the end user experience.

APM: Do you feel the acceptance of SaaS will impact the growth in adoption of APM in general?

MJT: In the early days, SaaS was often seen as a lightweight alternative to more sophisticated enterprise scale on premise APM software options. However, as the use of SaaS delivery platforms has matured, robust APM SaaS offerings are coming to market. Customers that want to get started with APM for little or no up-front cost can take advantage of free services and get value quickly using self-service activation tools. User interfaces, navigation and analytics are becoming much more intuitive. Many of the SaaS APM solutions come with significant pre-built reports and models, allowing organizations to quickly get that time to value.

Beyond that, APM SaaS options allow organizations to ramp up use of APM as needed overtime and match spending to business need. Overall, the barriers to implementing APM are much lower than they used to be at a time when the need for APM is greater than ever. I expect that SaaS delivered APM will definitely help to expand the overall APM market.

APM: What should a potential APM buyer be looking for in an APM SaaS solution?

MJT: Traditionally many APM products focused on Java, or .Net, however, many of today's applications are being written in PHP, Ruby, Python and other languages. Support for mobile as well as traditional desktop applications is also critical. It is critical to make sure that the solution supports your top priority application environments.

Similarly, the APM solutions needs insight into the infrastructure supporting the application so the ability to monitor across public clouds, virtualized environment or even on physical infrastructures is important – particularly for multi-tier applications where different tiers live in different infrastructure environments.

Beyond that, buyers should focus on ease of use and time to value. For example, look for services that can be activated easily.

A SaaS APM solution should have good graphics and visualization and the ability to integrate data from a wide range of sources to help IT and developer teams monitor performance efficiently and troubleshoot problems quickly.

The ability to customize different views of the APM data for different roles and the capability to develop custom reports are important, as are advanced analytics and root cause diagnostics that can help correlate data and get down to root cause quickly.

Finally, the ability to scale up in terms of numbers of users, devices, and transactions is vital as is the ability to scale down in situations where the use of the application varies over time.

APM: In terms of app development, do you feel quality – and therefore APM – will become a priority over fast innovation and time to market?

MJT: I think successful companies and the applications they rely on to do business will have to meet the speed and quality test simultaneously. We are way past the days were customers will applaud innovators if the application crashes or performance is unpredictable. Most business is done online today and customers can quickly move their business elsewhere if the application doesn't perform. The need for consistent user experiences and application quality will only increase over time but it cannot be overlooked today.

ABOUT Mary Johnston Turner

Mary Johnston Turner, IDC Research Vice President, Enterprise Systems Management Software, drives IDC's forecasts and analysis of many IT management software markets including public and private cloud operations, data center automation, virtualization management and performance and availability management. She is a major contributor to IDC's annual IT industry predictions process.

Each year, Turner surveys and interviews hundreds of IT decision makers on priorities for IT spending and strategic IT initiatives. She has conducted extensive research on cloud management strategies and changes in the performance management software market. Turner also examines the priorities around mobile interfaces and control points for enterprise scale system management solutions. Her systems management software coverage is published in IDC's Enterprise Systems Management Software service while her analysis of cloud management software is published in IDC's IT Cloud Decision Economics service.

Turner is a 25 year veteran of the IT research and advisory services business. She is widely published and quoted in many major business and trade publications, and is a frequent speaker at industry events. Turner has been with IDC since 2008. Prior to joining IDC she held senior analyst and consulting positions at Ovum, Summit Strategies, Northeast Consulting Resources and Yankee Group. She holds a Masters of Public Policy (M.P.P.) degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

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