We’re only six weeks into 2015, yet I’m looking for signs that the “APM Predictions for 2015” which APM Digest published at the end of December are becoming reality. Provided in three parts, the predictions came from various APM industry experts — analysts, consultants, users and vendors.
Three themes emerged from the 45 predictions that I want to highlight and comment on. Looking through the predictions, I saw a couple that were stuck in the past, however these three topics were spot on:
This is why APM matters. It is what APM is focused on and what you should be thinking about when it comes to application monitoring. You need to think about the user experience first and everything else second. As one industry expert stated, “In the age of rapid adoption and rapid rejection, enterprises have mere seconds to impress their users.”
Technology is getting more complicated rather than less complicated. Applications are increasingly distributed, include black box off-the shelf software, and include third-party APIs that someone else is hosting. The only way to deal with that situation is to start with the user, because if you are not starting with the user, then you’re starting with resources. The number of resources, applications, databases, and frameworks you have to monitor is getting bigger and bigger, and your team isn’t growing at the same rate. A lot of this has to do with the tooling getting better, especially around tying user experience to backend behaviors. This means that even though the number of components is growing quickly, the types of things you have to concentrate aren’t growing.
Even better, we’re developing techniques where not everything has to work perfectly all the time. A program written 30 years ago would run on a desktop and if anything was wrong, it would crash. Today, you can have the entire data center go down and users will only notice if applications are 10% slower because you’ve architected your system with multi-region redundancy. (I know one company that left a broken node in their NoSQL DB for a month because they didn’t have performance monitoring set up and there were no errors beyond the hardware failure.) Therefore, if you start with the user’s performance and work backwards from there, you have an immediate, explicit order of priorities to go after, because the only reason the app exists is so your end-users can be successful.
The DevOps Movement
There were a couple quotes in the article stating how DevOps is important and that you need to make sure you have development and operations working together. It’s certainly important that your developers and your operations team work together, but they should also be working with your testing team, your design teams and your front end teams. Everyone should be working together. The focus shouldn’t just be on two monolithic groups coming together.
Modern organizations have far more than just two silos. The entire team needs to work together because the time to build software these days has decreased, allowing you to then test and deploy much faster. Also, the number of people involved has increased, and as a result, the primary bottleneck to shipping product, delivering quality software and reducing defects is now the communication across teams.
The DevOps movement pointed to in the predictions is on point because it is all about communication. But, it’s important to recognize that DevOps as a trend with APM is more than just two teams. It’s about many teams across the entire organization and extends out to teams that don’t ever have to talk to developers, such as those managing Salesforce or Office365. The teams that care about those apps need to be on the same page as the people who are creating custom internal apps and all should share best practices across all the teams.
Verticals Embracing APM
There was one prediction that finance will finally embrace APM. I agree, but I think that this is the year that every industry – finance, healthcare, other industries concerned with security – realizes that the cloud is in fact just as secure as on premise. The advantages of the cloud are real and companies are not gaining what they think they gain by staying on premise. Using APM tools, they can maintain the level of visibility and control that they believe they have on premise today as they move to the cloud.
Based on the predictions, there are a number of directions that APM could take as it evolves. Those of us in the industry know that continued adoption and optimization of APM across the enterprise will do more than increase application performance, it will lead to improved business performance.