Q&A Part Two: EMA Talks About APM and the Cloud
January 22, 2014
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Start with Q&A Part One

In Part Two of APMdigest's exclusive interview, Julie Craig, Research Director for Application Management at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), talks about the challenges of Application Performance Management in the Cloud, and research from her new report: Application Performance Management (APM) in the Age of Hybrid Cloud: Ten Key Findings.

APM: I was also a little surprised by the stats in the report that showed that report log analysis tools top the application management wish list, above APM.

JC: Well, the actual question was, "If you could purchase three (3) application management-related products today, which of the following would be your top three choices?" And from my perspective, this is one finding in which the numbers are somewhat misleading. Log Analysis and Application Management Tools were almost neck and neck, at around 30%, with less than a percentage point between the two. So I would say the two are virtually equal as the top "wish list" solutions overall.

However what did surprise me was when I looked at these numbers broken down by role. For high level executives (again, Directors and C-suite), Application Management Enterprise Platforms were the top choice by a wide margin — 40% versus only 20% for line staff. For line staff, Change Management solutions were the top choice. These were their top option almost 40% of the time, versus only 20% for execs. So the numbers were virtually flip flopped.

Clearly, change is perceived as a cause of significant application-related challenges. Again, if I were an IT exec, I would look into the impact of change within my own organization, and invest in tools with greater visibility into change, if necessary.

APM: Would you conclude from this research that potential for APM growth is still substantial?

JC: Based on the fact that execs see these solutions as their top wish list item, I would say that 2014 and 2015 should see nice growth in the Application Management market.

APM: Let's talk about cloud. Is growth of use of public cloud still accelerating or slowing down, among enterprises?

JC: Based on the most recent numbers, there isn't an enormous difference in usage per se since my last research on this topic 2 years ago. But again, the top level numbers are misleading. Although the numbers themselves are similar, what has changed is that 2 years ago, Cloud was being used primarily for proofs of concept, testing or other non-production use cases. Today, it is clearly being used to deliver production applications.

In other words, production use of cloud is now in the early mainstream stage. This is an enormous change in just two years, which I believe is far more significant than the numbers alone. I think this is probably one of the most significant findings from this year's research, as it definitely changes the game. The "Cloud readiness" of Application Management solutions is clearly becoming more important.

APM: Your report says: "IT organizations are heavily leveraging 'homegrown' tools (40%) to manage public Cloud services" and "almost 1/3 of the companies surveyed are still managing on-premise applications with homegrown tools". Why do you think they are choosing homegrown tools over commercial options?

JC: I don't think it is necessarily a choice. I think it is more related to the fact that use of Cloud in production is still so new. When you consider that the majority of companies still have difficulties managing on-premise apps (evidenced by the fact that users are the "first line of detection" most of the time), it's not a surprise that they are struggling to manage Cloud applications.

APM: What are the unique challenges to application performance in the public cloud?

JC: This could be an entire article in itself and, in fact, I have written about this multiple times in papers which are available on www.enterprisemanagement.com.

The basic problems are lack of access, and the fact that most Application Management solutions were engineered for on-premise applications. This is a particular problem in hybrid transactions which execute across on-premise and public Cloud infrastructure. A number of vendors are able to instrument IaaS, however few yet have the partnerships in place necessary to instrument SaaS and PaaS instances. It's a complex problem, but one I have written about at length in my hybrid Cloud research.

APM: Do you know what percentage of Cloud vendors provide API interfaces or similarly share performance data with their customers? Why don't we see more of this?

JC: I did ask that question on my research, and it appears that some Cloud vendors are, particularly in the IaaS space — though I can't quote an exact percentage.

Outside of IaaS, the problem lies in the partnerships between public Cloud vendors and ISVs, which must exist before public Cloud platforms can be instrumented by products from Application Management vendors. It is taking a while for these to materialize, however I am starting to see vendors who recognize this.

I spoke with a startup called ThousandEyes recently, which is a network-focused APM vendor that actually built those partnerships while it was building its initial product. So they clearly share my vision for where Cloud management will ultimately have to go. IBM does something similar, by instrumenting for performance on their Cast Iron integration product. In effect, this yields performance at each integrated hop.

These capabilities are particularly important as transactions start to take multiple "hops" across public Cloud infrastructure — after the first hop, performance at subsequent tiers is virtually opaque without some sort of instrumentation. And without that insight, knowing "who to call" is essentially a toss-up.

ABOUT Julie Craig

Julie Craig is Research Director for Application Management at EMA. Craig's focus areas are Application Management, public and hybrid Cloud, Integration Technologies, Pre-Production Technologies/Devops, and Application Performance (APM).

Craig has more than 20 years of experience in software engineering, IT infrastructure and integration engineering, and enterprise management. Her experience in commercial software companies included development of communications interfaces and management of programming teams. As a former IT senior engineer, she developed enterprise management solutions and deployed multiple packaged system, application and performance management products.

Craig's IT experience included working with two international software companies, Enterprise Systems Group, and the former JD Edwards & Company, now part of Oracle. Craig founded JD Edwards’ global enterprise management team, and has extensive experience with network management, database administration, and management of tiered software systems. Craig also worked as a manager in the Global Architecture and Core Technologies group at Accenture, where she worked extensively on ITIL related consulting projects. She holds a MS in Computer Information Technology from Regis University.

Related Links:

Q&A Part One: EMA Talks About APM and the Cloud


Julie Craig's Blog

New EMA Research Provides Insight into APM in the Age of Hybrid Cloud

EMA Report: Application Performance Management (APM) in the Age of Hybrid Cloud: Ten Key Findings

Download the Report Summary

EMA Webinar: APM in the Age of Cloud and Hybrid Cloud

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