Q&A Part Three: TRAC Research Talks About the APM Spectrum
March 27, 2013
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In Part Three of APMdigest's exclusive interview, Bojan Simic, President and Principal Analyst at TRAC Research, talks about the firm's new APM Spectrum report, APM in the cloud, mobility, APM/NPM convergence and more.

Start with Q&A Part One: TRAC Research Talks About the APM Spectrum

Start with Q&A Part Two: TRAC Research Talks About the APM Spectrum

APM: What challenges do you see in managing application performance in the cloud?

TRAC: According to our survey, the number one challenge for managing application performance in the cloud is that the APM tools being used are not as effective when applications are moved to the cloud, either based on how they are designed or based on the types of metrics they can collect.

One of the other issues that we are seeing more and more is concern around the lack of SLAs for the quality of user experience in the cloud. If you look at the metrics cloud providers offer, they have to do with application usage, capacity, the number of instances and what you are paying for, and very little about how well these applications are performing. So relying on your cloud provider to provide this type of information is probably not going to work.

People are looking for APM solutions that can keep their cloud providers honest. If the cloud providers are not willing to provide the type of information that you cannot see within the environment, you can deploy solutions that can actually show that the challenges you are experiencing in managing cloud performance are being caused by the cloud provider, as opposed to being caused by something you are doing internally.

Very often APM is being used to determine what is causing the issue, but also to put more pressure on the cloud providers to provide better services, and try to get more visibility when you move applications to cloud.

APM: What were the users doing wrong? Did they choose the wrong APM tools?

TRAC: Not a lot of end-users selected their APM solutions with cloud in mind. Many of the survey respondents selected their APM tools 5-7 years ago, when no one was thinking about the cloud. And now they are moving more applications to the cloud and they are realizing their APM tools are probably not going to work.

Cloud is becoming more of a selection criteria in selecting a new APM solution. I think more people are now selecting an APM solution with cloud in mind.

APM: Is this why the web browser is becoming a focal point for APM?

TRAC: Yes, the approach for monitoring the quality of user experience is changing the focus from monitoring the actual infrastructure to bringing the monitoring closer to the end user, and the end-user device. Are you able to see what is going on in the browser and what is impacting the user experience?

More applications are becoming web-based, and they are being used across the entire web value chain, communicating to customers, being used to generate revenue, and also being used internally by employees. The best place to monitor that is within the browser, or monitoring APIs that are connecting to the browser.

APM: What do you see as the new role of the network in application performance?

TRAC: One interesting point, when you talk to network managers and you look at the key goals they are trying to achieve, it really comes down to quality of user experience of the applications. So, they are looking for their networking tools to be able to provide more advanced APM capabilities.

In the survey, and we asked the end-users to select:

1. Something you are currently using

2. Something you currently don't have in place but you see value to purchase a solution

3. This is nice but I don't see us spending money on it

4. We don't care about it

If you look at the second question, “Something you currently don't have in place but you see value to purchase a solution,” the number one capability was the ability to monitor network and application performance from a single platform. Being able to understand network traffic, how applications are performing across the network, especially on the IT operations side, and to be able to pull advanced APM metrics based on monitoring the network — this is what a lot of people do care about, especially within IT operations.

There are a number of vendors on the networking side that are making strides in taking what was originally designed to be a network management solution and adding some pretty advanced APM capabilities. Over the last couple of years, networking solutions have enhanced their offering quite a bit, to be able to support some of the APM use cases. For example, most of them have user experience monitoring of some sort.

APM: Do you foresee that the industry is going to keep moving in that direction, in terms of a convergence of tools, platforms that offer both APM and NPM capabilities?

TRAC: I can definitely see networking tools offering APM capabilities across different use cases. I don’t see tools on the APM side, that were designed to do code level analysis and end-user experience monitoring, going in the direction of monitoring network traffic. So, I think a lot of the convergence will be coming, but from the network side, as opposed to the application side.

APM: What is your assessment of the APM industry's mobile APM offerings to date?

TRAC: From the end-user side, there is a major need for it. If you look at organizations using APM for mobile, the numbers are very low. If you look at the people that want to purchase it, the number is 58% in our survey. It is one of the highest demands for a capability in the survey.

The challenge here is: There are not a lot of solutions that can do a good job on mobile now. Even those that provide mobile solutions, very few of them can actually do a good job monitoring native mobile applications on a mobile device. This challenge is associated with a number of issues. For instance, obviously you have less control over the network that is being used to deliver these applications. Very often, the application itself is really the only thing you can monitor. Many of these vendors understand that the underlying technology they use for traditional applications is not going to work in the mobile environment.

There is a major need for Mobile APM, but there are not a lot of solutions out there that are up to the challenge, and one of the key reasons is that mobile APM is not easy to do and takes some major investments in innovation.

APM: Do you foresee a breakthrough in the near future, or is this going to be ongoing problem?

TRAC: There will be innovative companies that figure this out. There is a major revenue opportunity there. If this market matures enough where end-users are willing to spend money on mobile APM only, I think that will cause vendors to wake up and try to either acquire a company or build something on their own. I can definitely see the problem being solved.

APM: What is the next step? Will you be releasing a new spectrum every year?

TRAC: This will be an annual publication covering key dynamics in each of our coverage areas. In this space, the next two Spectrums will be on User Experience Monitoring and Network Monitoring in Q2. The Spectrum is a part of broader APM Buyer’s Journey Framework that includes five interactive reports we are publishing. One of these publications is a Hub study, designed to be used by end-users deeper into the buying cycle. The Hub study allows you to select buying criteria and you get an apples-to-apples comparison of vendors based on how good a fit they are for your particular use case. Also, Vendor Index reports provide an evaluation of APM vendors across 15 buying criteria.

Another point, I think a lot of these areas we covered today in this interview deserve a deeper dive in a separate report. For example, we will dig deep into mobile, cloud and some key industry verticals. We have a number of solid topics. We are looking to release four or five of those deeper dive reports between now and mid-summer.

ABOUT Bojan Simic

Bojan Simic is President and Principal Analyst at TRAC Research, a market research and analyst firm that specializes in IT performance management. As an industry analyst, Simic has interviewed more than 2,000 IT and business professionals from end-user organizations and has published more than 50 research reports. His domain knowledge includes insights into end user experiences, best-practices in deploying solutions for IT performance management, and strategies of related solution providers.

Prior to joining TRAC Research, Simic was a lead analyst for Network and Application Performance Management research at Aberdeen Group. He is frequently quoted in leading industry publications and has presented his research findings at more than 30 market facing events.

Simic's coverage area at TRAC Research includes application and network monitoring, WAN management and acceleration, cloud and virtualization management, business service management and managed services.

Bojan holds a BA in Economics from Belgrade University in Belgrade, Serbia and an MBA from McCallum Graduate School of Business at Bentley University.

Related Links:

Read Q&A Part One: TRAC Research Talks About the APM Spectrum

Read Q&A Part Two: TRAC Research Talks About the APM Spectrum

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