|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.
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 12, 2016 02:30 AM EST Reads: 218
Father business cycles and digital consumers are forcing enterprises to respond faster to customer needs and competitive demands. Successful integration of DevOps and Agile development will be key for business success in today’s digital economy. In his session at DevOps Summit, Pradeep Prabhu, Co-Founder & CEO of Cloudmunch, covered the critical practices that enterprises should consider to seamlessly integrate Agile and DevOps processes, barriers to implementing this in the enterprise, and pr...
Feb. 12, 2016 02:00 AM EST Reads: 426
If we look at slow, traditional IT and jump to the conclusion that just because we found its issues intractable before, that necessarily means we will again, then it’s time for a rethink. As a matter of fact, the world of IT has changed over the last ten years or so. We’ve been experiencing unprecedented innovation across the board – innovation in technology as well as in how people organize and accomplish tasks. Let’s take a look at three differences between today’s modern, digital context...
Feb. 12, 2016 01:45 AM EST Reads: 229
The principles behind DevOps are not new - for decades people have been automating system administration and decreasing the time to deploy apps and perform other management tasks. However, only recently did we see the tools and the will necessary to share the benefits and power of automation with a wider circle of people. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bernard Sanders, Chief Technology Officer at CloudBolt Software, explored the latest tools including Puppet, Chef, Docker, and CMPs needed to...
Feb. 12, 2016 01:30 AM EST Reads: 338
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Feb. 12, 2016 12:00 AM EST Reads: 273
Data-as-a-Service is the complete package for the transformation of raw data into meaningful data assets and the delivery of those data assets. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lakshmi Randall, an industry expert, analyst and strategist, will address: What is DaaS (Data-as-a-Service)? Challenges addressed by DaaS Vendors that are enabling DaaS Architecture options for DaaS
Feb. 11, 2016 10:45 PM EST Reads: 363
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
Feb. 11, 2016 10:00 PM EST Reads: 122
The (re?)emergence of Microservices was especially prominent in this week’s news. What are they good for? do they make sense for your application? should you take the plunge? and what do Microservices mean for your DevOps and Continuous Delivery efforts? Continue reading for more on Microservices, containers, DevOps culture, and more top news from the past week. As always, stay tuned to all the news coming from@ElectricCloud on DevOps and Continuous Delivery throughout the week and retweet/favo...
Feb. 11, 2016 10:00 PM EST Reads: 229
Microservices are a type of software architecture where large applications are made up of small, self-contained units working together through APIs that are not dependent on a specific language. Each service has a limited scope, concentrates on a specific task and is highly independent. This setup allows IT managers and developers to build systems in a modular way. In his book, “Building Microservices,” Sam Newman said microservices are small, focused components built to do a single thing very w...
Feb. 11, 2016 06:00 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
Feb. 11, 2016 05:00 PM EST Reads: 392
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
Feb. 11, 2016 04:15 PM EST Reads: 181
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 11, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 414
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at 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. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 11, 2016 02:45 PM EST Reads: 442
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, 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, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 11, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 441
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 11, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 213
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
Feb. 11, 2016 12:00 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at 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. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
Feb. 11, 2016 11:30 AM EST
In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
Feb. 11, 2016 11:15 AM EST Reads: 290
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
Feb. 11, 2016 11:00 AM EST Reads: 250
SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
Feb. 11, 2016 11:00 AM EST Reads: 422