Introduction to AppDynamics
In today’s world, developing a software application can be a cumbersome task. It does not matter whether you’re creating smartphone apps, service-oriented software, or online video games, you are bound to cross various hurdles throughout the application development life cycle.
Considering the vast complexity of the systems, it requires developers, testers, and system administrators to work seamlessly together. Even a single weak link in the chain can negatively impact the application’s performance, which as a result would mean unhappy end-users.
Currently, when there is ample of fierce competition in any business, the teams have to work on strict timelines and customer retention matters the most, it becomes crucial to do everything in your power to guarantee that your software delivers a uniform baseline of performance, 24/7.
This becomes even important in the case of web-based applications, where consistent speed and uptime is expected, although frequently disrupted. And that’s where APM, or application performance management, comes in.
These days everyone in the software industry seems to be using the term APM but not everyone agrees on what it means. Some popular alternative translations of the APM acronym include application performance monitoring and application performance measurement, and each suggests a slightly different interpretation of what APM is all about.
To put it simply, application performance management is the art of managing the performance, availability, and user experience of software applications. APM is designed to monitor the speed at which transactions are performed both by end-users and by the systems and network infrastructure that support a software application, providing an end-to-end overview of potential bottlenecks and service interruptions.
Application performance monitoring emphasizes the technical essence of APM, which is, using a bevvy of automated tools like AlertSite to continuously monitor website, app, or system performance. While application performance measurement shifts the meaning toward the actual data metrics that are produced by such monitoring.
AppDynamics is an application performance monitoring solution that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide real-time visibility and insight into IT environments. Using AppDynamics helps to align IT, DevOps, and the business around the information that helps you protect your bottom line and deliver flawless customer experiences at scale.
It is a tool that monitors your Application Infrastructure and gives you code-level visibility. It is supported for all major technologies like Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, NOSQL etc and can be installed either as on-premise or as SaaS (Software As a Service) solution.
Here, a piece of software called Agent is installed in the Application to be monitored. The Agent collects the performance metrics and sends them to a Server process called Controller. Controller processes the metrics and presents them via a Web Browser. A monitoring analyst can configure Alerts and generate reports using the Web Interface. The agent constantly monitors the application. Since it uses byte code instrumentation technology, Agent has hooks to every line of code. This is how AppDynamics can provide code-level visibility. Agents are available for most of the popular technologies. Most of the monitoring capability is ‘out of the box’, including and Alerts.
Another neat ‘out of the box’ feature is the ‘Application Flow Mapping’. AppDynamics discovers various subsystems and backends and draws them beautifully on the browser. At times, you will be surprised to discover about backends that you never thought your application was talking to. Also, AppDynamics ‘learns’ application behaviour and automatically sets baselines, and alerts when the deviation from the baseline is not normal.
AppDynamics employs the concept of ‘Business Transaction’ (BT). A BT represents a service provided by the application that is invoked by the user. All involved subsystems and backends for a given BT are tracked and reported by AppDynamics. BTs are automatically discovered but user can define their own BTs as well. Using a special type of agent called Machine Agent’, AppDynamics can monitor hardware too. Basic resource utilization such as CPU, Memory, Disk usage is monitored. Machine agents are available for most OS (Windows, Linux, Solaris etc).
AppDynamics lets you formulate your extension using shell scripts or Java. It is a powerful feature that enables monitoring anything virtually. There are numerous extensions developed by the community and available for download.
AppDynamics automatically reads the application behaviour by circumscribing the baseline value for any metric. And when the current value deviates from baseline over a certain limit, it triggers an alert. Also, the deviation is configurable.
AppDynamics implements alerting using two elements: Health rules and Policies. Health rule is where you will define the performance metric to monitor and the threshold to watch for. The policy tells AppDynamics what to do when Health rules are violated. The action could be emailing or paging someone (or a group), or even executing a program. AppDynamics come prebuilt with several Default Health Rules.
These days, application performance management is no longer only for the ops teams and sysadmins of the world. APM is now far more robust, user-friendly, and inviting than it used to be, with its various elements steadily encompassing the entire spectrum of the application life cycle, throughout pre-deployment, production, and post-deployment stages. Indeed, it is fast becoming equally useful to development, testing, operations, and business teams alike.
Most noteworthy, every software application is built and deployed differently, with diverse goals in mind. Hence, some projects will benefit from extensive APM more than others. But the ultimate goal of APM is always the same.