|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.
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Nov. 24, 2015 08:00 PM EST Reads: 333
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem"...
Nov. 24, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 366
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Nov. 24, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 316
Hiring the wrong candidate can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars, and result in lost profit and productivity during the search for a replacement. In fact, the Harvard Business Review has found that as much as 80 percent of turnover is caused by bad hiring decisions. But when your organization has implemented DevOps, the job is about more than just technical chops. It’s also about core behaviors: how they work with others, how they make decisions, and how those decisions translate t...
Nov. 24, 2015 04:45 PM EST Reads: 108
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
Nov. 24, 2015 03:30 PM EST Reads: 459
There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content. Join @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 7-9, 2016 in New York City, for three days of intense 'Internet of Things' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indespensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) IoT's use in Vertical Markets.
Nov. 24, 2015 03:30 PM EST Reads: 507
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
Nov. 24, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 404
People want to get going with DevOps or Continuous Delivery, but need a place to start. Others are already on their way, but need some validation of their choices. A few months ago, I published the first volume of DevOps and Continuous Delivery reference architectures which has now been viewed over 50,000 times on SlideShare (it's free to download...no registration required). Three things helped people in the deck: (1) the reference architectures, (2) links to the sources for each architectur...
Nov. 24, 2015 02:30 PM EST Reads: 148
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
Nov. 24, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 416
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 337
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Nov. 24, 2015 01:30 PM EST Reads: 487
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:30 PM EST Reads: 480
We are rapidly moving to a brave new world of interconnected smart homes, cars, offices and factories known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Sensors and monitoring devices will touch every part of our lives. Let's take a closer look at the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is a worldwide network of objects and devices connected to the Internet. They are electronics, sensors, software and more. These objects connect to the Internet and can be controlled remotely via apps and programs. ...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:15 PM EST Reads: 478
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 492
SYS-CON Events announced today that Kintone has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. kintone promotes cloud-based workgroup productivity, transparency and profitability with a seamless collaboration space, build your own business application (BYOA) platform, and workflow automation system.
Nov. 24, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 564
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Nov. 24, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 258
One of the most important tenets of digital transformation is that it’s customer-driven. In fact, the only reason technology is involved at all is because today’s customers demand technology-based interactions with the companies they do business with. It’s no surprise, therefore, that we at Intellyx agree with Patrick Maes, CTO, ANZ Bank, when he said, “the fundamental element in digital transformation is extreme customer centricity.” So true – but note the insightful twist that Maes adde...
Nov. 24, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 392
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
Nov. 24, 2015 06:45 AM EST Reads: 335
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:45 AM EST Reads: 666
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...
Nov. 24, 2015 12:00 AM EST Reads: 536