|By Stephen Pierzchala||
|April 22, 2013 09:00 AM EDT||
I started in the web performance industry - well before Application Performance Management (APM) existed - during a time when external, single page measurement ruled the land. In an ecosystem where no other solutions existed, it was the top of the data chain to support the rapidly evolving world of web applications. This was an effective approach to APM, as most online applications were self-contained and, compared to the modern era, relatively simple in their design.
A state-of-the-art web application, circa 2000
Soon, a new solution rose to the top of the ecosystem - the synthetic, multi-step business process, played back either in a browser or a browser simulator. By evolving beyond the single-page measurement, this more complex data collection methodology was able to provide a view into the most critical business processes, delivering repeatable baseline and benchmark data that could be used by operations and business teams to track the health of the applications and identify when and where issues occurred.
These multi-step processes ruled the ecosystem for nearly a decade, evolving to include finer detail, deeper analytics, wider browser selection, and greater geographic coverage. But, like anything at the apex of an ecosystem, even this approach began to show that it couldn't answer every question.
In the modern online application environment, companies are delivering data to multiple browsers and mobile devices while creating increasingly sophisticated applications. These applications are developed using a combination of in-house code, commercial and open source packages and servers, and outside services to extend the application beyond what the in-house team specializes in.
This growth and complexity means that the traditional, stand-alone tools are no longer complex and "smart" enough to help customers actually solve the problems they face in their online applications. This means that a new approach, the next step in APM evolution, was needed to displace the current technologies at the top of the pyramid.
A state-of-the-art online application, circa 2013
This ecosystem, with multiple, sometimes competing, data streams makes it extremely difficult to answer the seemingly simple question of What is happening?, and sometimes nearly impossible to answer the important question of And why does it matter to us?
Let's walk through a performance issue and show how the approach to APM has evolved to adapt to the complex ecosystem, and why we find that it requires a sophisticated, integrated approach to allow the flood of data to turn into a concentrated stream of actionable information.
Starting with synthetic data, we already have two unique perspectives that provide a broader scope of data than the traditional datacenter-only approach. By combining Backbone (traditional datacenter synthetic monitoring) with data from the Last Mile (data collected from end-user competitors running the same scripts that are run from the Backbone), the clear differences in performance appear, giving companies an idea that the datacenter-only approach needs to be extended by collecting data from a source that is much closer to the customers that use the monitored application.
Outside-In Data Capture Perspectives used to provide the user experience data for online applications
Using a real-world scenario, let's follow the diagnostic process of a detected issue from the initial synthetic errors to the deepest level of impact, and see how a new, integrated APM solution can help resolve issues in an effective, efficient, and actionable way.
Starting with a three-hour snapshot of synthetic data, it's apparent that there is an issue almost halfway through this period, affecting primarily the Backbone measurements.
Examination of Individual Synthetic Measurements to identify outliers and errors
The clear cluster of errors (red squares in the scatter plot) around 17:30 is seen to be affecting Backbone only by filtering out the blue Last Mile measurements. After this filtering, zooming in allows us to quickly see that these errors are focused on the Backbone measurement perspective.
Filtered Scatter Plot Data Showing the Backbone Perspective, Focusing on the Errors
Examining the data shows that they are all script playback issues related to a missing element on the step, preventing the next action in the script from being executed.
A waterfall chart showing that the script execution failed due to an expected page element not appearing
But there are two questions that need to be answered: Why? And Does this matter? What's interesting is that as good as the synthetic tool is, this is as far as it can go. This forces teams to investigate the issue further and replicate it using other tools, wasting precious time.
But an evolved APM strategy doesn't stop here. By isolating the time period and error, the modern, integrated toolset can now ask and answer both those questions, and extend the information to: Who else was affected?
In the above instance, we know that the issue occurred from Pennsylvania. By using a user-experience monitoring (UEM) tool that captures data from all incoming visitors, we can filter the data to examine just the synthetic test visit.
Already, we have extended the data provided by the synthetic measurement. By drilling down further, it immediately becomes clear what the issue was.
Click on "Chart" takes over 60 seconds of Server Time
And then, the final step, what was happening on the server-side? Well, it's clear that one layer of the application was causing the issue and eventually the server timed out.
Issue is in the Crystaldecision API - Something to pass to the developers and QA team!
So, the element that was needed to make the script move forward wasn't there because the process that was generating the element timed out. When the agent decided to attempt the action, the missing element caused the script to fail.
This integrated approach has identified that the Click on ‘Chart' action is one of potential concern and we can now go back and look at all instances of this action in the past 24 hours to see if there are visits that encountered a similar issue. It's clear that this is a serious issue that needs to be investigated. The following screenshot shows all click-on chart actions that experienced this problem including those from REAL users that were also impacted by this problem.
A list of all visitors - Synthetic and Real - affected by the click on "Chart" issue in a 24-hour period, indicating a high priority issue
From an error on a Synthetic chart, we have quickly been able to move down to an issue that has been repeated multiple times over the past 24 hours, affecting not only synthetic users but also real users. Exporting all of this data and sending it to the QA and development teams will allow them to focus their efforts on the critical area.
This integrated approach has shown what has been proven in ecosystems all throughout the world, whether they are in nature or in applications: a tightly integrated group that seamlessly works together is far more effective than an individual. With many eyes, perspectives, and complementary areas of expertise, the team approach has provided far more data to solve the problem than any one of the perspectives could have on its own.
Kubernetes is a new and revolutionary open-sourced system for managing containers across multiple hosts in a cluster. Ansible is a simple IT automation tool for just about any requirement for reproducible environments. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Patrick Galbraith, a principal engineer at HPE, discussed how to build a fully functional Kubernetes cluster on a number of virtual machines or bare-metal hosts. Also included will be a brief demonstration of running a Galera MyS...
Dec. 10, 2016 08:45 AM EST Reads: 5,476
About a year ago we tuned into “the need for speed” and how a concept like "serverless computing” was increasingly catering to this. We are now a year further and the term “serverless” is taking on unexpected proportions. With some even seeing it as the successor to cloud in general or at least as a successor to the clouds’ poorer cousin in terms of revenue, hype and adoption: PaaS. The question we need to ask is whether this constitutes an example of Hype Hopping: to effortlessly pivot to the ...
Dec. 10, 2016 07:45 AM EST Reads: 2,472
Today’s IT environments are increasingly heterogeneous, with Linux, Java, Oracle and MySQL considered nearly as common as traditional Windows environments. In many cases, these platforms have been integrated into an organization’s Windows-based IT department by way of an acquisition of a company that leverages one of those platforms. In other cases, the applications may have been part of the IT department for years, but managed by a separate department or singular administrator. Still, whether...
Dec. 10, 2016 06:30 AM EST Reads: 860
As we enter the final week before the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in Santa Clara, CA, it's time for me to reflect on six big topics that will be important during the show. Hybrid Cloud: This general-purpose term seems to provide a comfort zone for many enterprise IT managers. It sounds reassuring to be able to work with one of the major public-cloud providers like AWS or Microsoft Azure while still maintaining an on-site presence.
Dec. 10, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 3,030
I’m a huge fan of open source DevOps tools. I’m also a huge fan of scaling open source tools for the enterprise. But having talked with my fair share of companies over the years, one important thing I’ve learned is that you can’t scale your release process using open source tools alone. They simply require too much scripting and maintenance when used that way. Scripting may be fine for smaller organizations, but it’s not ok in an enterprise environment that includes many independent teams and to...
Dec. 10, 2016 04:15 AM EST Reads: 842
Get deep visibility into the performance of your databases and expert advice for performance optimization and tuning. You can't get application performance without database performance. Give everyone on the team a comprehensive view of how every aspect of the system affects performance across SQL database operations, host server and OS, virtualization resources and storage I/O. Quickly find bottlenecks and troubleshoot complex problems.
Dec. 10, 2016 02:45 AM EST Reads: 2,272
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
Dec. 10, 2016 02:00 AM EST Reads: 1,997
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dec. 10, 2016 01:00 AM EST Reads: 1,280
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Dec. 9, 2016 10:30 PM EST Reads: 1,743
Monitoring of Docker environments is challenging. Why? Because each container typically runs a single process, has its own environment, utilizes virtual networks, or has various methods of managing storage. Traditional monitoring solutions take metrics from each server and applications they run. These servers and applications running on them are typically very static, with very long uptimes. Docker deployments are different: a set of containers may run many applications, all sharing the resource...
Dec. 9, 2016 08:15 PM EST Reads: 5,808
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Dec. 9, 2016 05:30 PM EST Reads: 2,388
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Dec. 9, 2016 05:15 PM EST Reads: 1,908
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, contrasted how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He showed how the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He also demoed building immutable pipelines in the cloud ...
Dec. 9, 2016 05:00 PM EST Reads: 2,100
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 9, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 1,261
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Dec. 9, 2016 03:00 PM EST Reads: 2,038
Rapid innovation, changing business landscapes, and new IT demands force businesses to make changes quickly. In the eyes of many, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery. In this presentation, attendees learned about the: The transformation of IT to a DevOps, microservices, and container-based architecture What are containers and how DevOps practices can operate in a container-based environment A demonstration of how ...
Dec. 9, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 1,290
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great t...
Dec. 9, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 847
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Phil Hombledal, Solution Architect at CollabNet, discussed how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
Dec. 9, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 1,316
Application transformation and DevOps practices are two sides of the same coin. Enterprises that want to capture value faster, need to deliver value faster – time value of money principle. To do that enterprises need to build cloud-native apps as microservices by empowering teams to build, ship, and run in production. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Neil Gehani, senior product manager at HPE, discussed what every business should plan for how to structure their teams to delive...
Dec. 9, 2016 11:45 AM EST Reads: 1,576
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Dec. 9, 2016 11:30 AM EST Reads: 1,062