Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Christopher Keene, Sematext Blog, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Greg O'Connor

Related Topics: Java IoT, Industrial IoT, Microservices Expo, IoT User Interface, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Java IoT: Article

Evolving an APM Strategy for the 21st Century

How the approach to APM has evolved to adapt to a complex ecosystem

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.

More Stories By Stephen Pierzchala

With more than a decade in the web performance industry, Stephen Pierzchala has advised many organizations, from Fortune 500 to startups, in how to improve the performance of their web applications by helping them develop and evolve the unique speed, conversion, and customer experience metrics necessary to effectively measure, manage, and evolve online web and mobile applications that improve performance and increase revenue. Working on projects for top companies in the online retail, financial services, content delivery, ad-delivery, and enterprise software industries, he has developed new approaches to web performance data analysis. Stephen has led web performance methodology, CDN Assessment, SaaS load testing, technical troubleshooting, and performance assessments, demonstrating the value of the web performance. He noted for his technical analyses and knowledge of Web performance from the outside-in.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Thomas Bitman of Gartner wrote a blog post last year about why OpenStack projects fail. In that article, he outlined three particular metrics which together cause 60% of OpenStack projects to fall short of expectations: Wrong people (31% of failures): a successful cloud needs commitment both from the operations team as well as from "anchor" tenants. Wrong processes (19% of failures): a successful cloud automates across silos in the software development lifecycle, not just within silos.
Node.js and io.js are increasingly being used to run JavaScript on the server side for many types of applications, such as websites, real-time messaging and controllers for small devices with limited resources. For DevOps it is crucial to monitor the whole application stack and Node.js is rapidly becoming an important part of the stack in many organizations. Sematext has historically had a strong support for monitoring big data applications such as Elastic (aka Elasticsearch), Cassandra, Solr, S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
As the world moves toward more DevOps and Microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The Microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. Serverless computing is revolutionizing computing. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Raghav...
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...
It's been a busy time for tech's ongoing infatuation with containers. Amazon just announced EC2 Container Registry to simply container management. The new Azure container service taps into Microsoft's partnership with Docker and Mesosphere. You know when there's a standard for containers on the table there's money on the table, too. Everyone is talking containers because they reduce a ton of development-related challenges and make it much easier to move across production and testing environm...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, 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 opportuni...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...

Modern organizations face great challenges as they embrace innovation and integrate new tools and services. They begin to mature and move away from the complacency of maintaining traditional technologies and systems that only solve individual, siloed problems and work “well enough.” In order to build...

The post Gearing up for Digital Transformation appeared first on Aug. 26, 2016 01:30 PM EDT  Reads: 1,449

Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addres...
Cloud Expo 2016 New York at the Javits Center New York was characterized by increased attendance and a new focus on operations. These were both encouraging signs for all involved in Cloud Computing and all that it touches. As Conference Chair, I work with the Cloud Expo team to structure three keynotes, numerous general sessions, and more than 150 breakout sessions along 10 tracks. Our job is to balance the state of enterprise IT today with the trends that will be commonplace tomorrow. Mobile...
The following fictional case study is a composite of actual horror stories I’ve heard over the years. Unfortunately, this scenario often occurs when in-house integration teams take on the complexities of DevOps and ALM integration with an enterprise service bus (ESB) or custom integration. It is written from the perspective of an enterprise architect tasked with leading an organization’s effort to adopt Agile to become more competitive. The company has turned to Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) as ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that eCube Systems, a leading provider of middleware modernization, integration, and management solutions, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. eCube Systems offers a family of middleware evolution products and services that maximize return on technology investment by leveraging existing technical equity to meet evolving business needs. ...
To leverage Continuous Delivery, enterprises must consider impacts that span functional silos, as well as applications that touch older, slower moving components. Managing the many dependencies can cause slowdowns. See how to achieve continuous delivery in the enterprise.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
This is a no-hype, pragmatic post about why I think you should consider architecting your next project the way SOA and/or microservices suggest. No matter if it’s a greenfield approach or if you’re in dire need of refactoring. Please note: considering still keeps open the option of not taking that approach. After reading this, you will have a better idea about whether building multiple small components instead of a single, large component makes sense for your project. This post assumes that you...
A company’s collection of online systems is like a delicate ecosystem – all components must integrate with and complement each other, and one single malfunction in any of them can bring the entire system to a screeching halt. That’s why, when monitoring and analyzing the health of your online systems, you need a broad arsenal of different tools for your different needs. In addition to a wide-angle lens that provides a snapshot of the overall health of your system, you must also have precise, ...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...