AppStack is a very useful feature for troubleshooting application issues, which you can find when you click on Environment under the Home menu in the Orion® Web Console. The feature allows you to understand your application environment, through exposing the relationships between the applications and the related infrastructure that supports those applications. The more SolarWinds System Management products you have installed, the more information you are provided in the AppStack UI. From applications to databases, virtual hosts to storage arrays, you can get a complete picture of the entire “application stack”. You can learn more about the basics of using AppStack by watching this video.

A common question I hear is, “How does AppStack know what is related to what?” Well, AppStack uses concepts like automatic end-to-end mapping to automatically determine relationships between things like datastores and LUNs. But, AppStack also utilizes user-defined dependencies to allow you to specify relationships between particular monitored entities. For example, you can create a user-defined dependency between the Microsoft IIS application you are monitoring, and the Microsoft SQL Server that it relies on for business critical functionality. To configure the user-defined dependencies, click on Manage Dependencies on the Main Settings & Administration page.

When you select the Microsoft IIS application, you created the dependency for, in the AppStack UI, you are able to not only see the infrastructure stack that supports that particular web server, but you can also quickly see the other applications or servers that it depends on.

You can use the Spotlight function in AppStack to quickly narrow down the visibility to only the object you select and the objects that are related to it, including the user-defined dependencies. In this case, you can see the IIS server and the SQL server and the related infrastructure stack. Both the objects related to the IIS application and the SQL Server application will be shown.

Once you build out your dependencies, you will be able to quickly traverse from one monitored application to another, and gain a complete understanding of your complex application environment. In the example of the IIS application and SQL server, you can select the SQL server and see what other applications are dependent on it.

As you continue to build out your user-defined dependencies, you will be able to quickly traverse all of the relationships between the applications you monitor and the other monitored objects in your environment, like web transactions. This will, in turn, allow you to determine root cause of application issues faster, by giving you have better visibility into the entire application and infrastructure landscape.