In APMdigest's exclusive interview, Michael Azoff, Principal Analyst at Ovum, talks about his APM Solution Guide 2012, the APM market, and the definition of APM.
APM: How did Ovum's APM Solution Guide come about?
MA: The first time that I wrote about Application Performance Management (APM) was in 2004. The next time I looked at the space was 2008. Now this report is in 2012. So it looks like I'm writing these every four years.
For this report, I was being approached by various vendors, some of them new to the market, and I was very intrigued because they were telling me they were doing all these new things.
At the same time felt that the term APM was very broadly used. There were all these different vendors, they all have different histories, they all have a different take on what APM means and what they offer. So I thought that we really need to get clarification. That was the spark for the report.
Although the Solution Guide does not tend to be exhaustive, I think it is very representative of the leading players in the market. It provides a short analysis of the vendors, and the Ovum APM Rainbow Map which is chart where you can see the features at a glance. It is an opportunity to see what is really happening in APM.
APM: How did you conduct the research?
MA: Mostly talking to the vendors. I had a briefing with each vendor, and I also created a features matrix. The features matrix is a spreadsheet with about 200 rows that we ask vendors to complete. That information is what underlies the Ovum APM Rainbow Map.
APM: What are the most interesting changes you have seen in the current APM market?
MA: I think what we are seeing is that the new infrastructure that is coming out – the Cloud, virtualization – is pushing the envelope for what APM needs to offer. You've also got innovators providing business transaction management, for example. You've got innovation in end-to-end monitoring across a whole range of different edge devices. So I think the industry is very healthy in terms of the innovation that is coming out of it. Some vendors are obviously ahead of others, and I think that is brought out in the report.
APM: Did your research help you come to terms with the definition of APM?
MA: I think APM is still confusing, as a term, because it covers so much. I think end users really need to understand exactly how each vendor is actually using that term, in what it is covering. I think the Solution Guide helps in that respect.
APM: It is interesting that you mention how broad the term APM is, because I see that you include cyber security as an APM capability, and normally I view that as separate from APM. How do you see that fitting in?
MA: Yes, I got a comment from a Gartner analyst querying that. That is an example of where I, as an analyst, am sticking my neck out and saying what the market should be. And the market carries on blithely regardless of my view.
The fact of the matter is that if you look at application development logically, security should be something that developers think about right from the start. I think this is more important today because we are having more applications running outside the firewall. So there is a real need to address these issues.
I don't see a logical separation between security and the rest of application development. I think that application developers should be trained to be aware of security issues, and I think that would make it safer for the end-users. We have profiled this approach in a number of reports in our research. My bringing security into the broader definition of APM is part of that approach, creating awareness. Whether the market embraces that or not is another matter.
APM: Another capability that you included in APM, which I agree with, is network performance management. Explain how you see NPM in relation to APM.
MA: Yes, absolutely. Historically, going back to 2004 and 2008 when I was reviewing the market, the vendors were coming from different traditions, and they were quite separate products. From an end-user point of view, these types of historical divisions don't make any logical sense. They want an application to work, and if there are issues affecting the performance deriving from infrastructure, the information needs to be brought out. So I argued for integrating applications and network right from the early days.
What I think is interesting to see today, is that we are getting nearer to that point. There is greater recognition of the need to have that type of approach. We are seeing vendors embrace that. We are getting nearer to that optimal point where these kinds of historical divisions are not going to affect what kind of product is offered.
We are seeing this crossover between traditional network performance tools that are actually providing a lot of information about applications. So I think we are getting to some interesting crossroads. I take a very broad approach and I think we are seeing that trend in the market.
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