I recently came upon an article by Art Whittmann, “What’s killing APM?” The gist of the article is that APM is not thought of as a “must have” technology because APM is too expensive and APM solutions don’t keep up with new application vendor releases and new dynamic trends like cloud and virtualization. Only 42% of organizations feel that APM is critically important.
That’s not surprising data. Many APM vendors have many fancy features that are very expensive and difficult to deploy. The reason for this is that legacy application performance management vendors are engineering driven and focus a greater portion of their development budget on the next big thing, or a feature responding to a VIP customer rather than spending efforts on easy-to-use software that solves problems customers are having today.
SolarWinds does not market itself as an APM vendor because we don’t develop hard to use features that only 20% of the market needs, and we don’t want to be in that kind of company. That’s why you will likely never see us on Gartner’s APM Magic Quadrant. SolarWinds does market some of the capabilities in the broad Application Performance Management space to include server monitoring and application monitoring tools. This is where 80% of the users have a need – for tools that will quickly and easily monitor availability and performance of servers and applications.
What is different about our approach is that we have built our tools with ease of use in mind, both from the perspective of the customer and the developer. For example, monitoring is agentless to reduce the time it takes to deploy and update the software. Unlike the APM solutions Mr. Whittmann describes ("Because the nature of app life cycles has changed so profoundly, APM as a third-party product has outlived its usefulness for most environments"), SolarWinds is able to update and introduce 10 to 20 new application templates in each release (2 releases per year).
As an alternative to APM solutions, Art suggests that “service component deployments with their own self-health reporting capability should be preferred.” That is indeed a step backwards and would cause a lot of wasted time and aggravation on the part of the user. A typical system administrator is required to monitor servers, virtual machines, applications, network devices, and so on. These elements are sourced from multiple vendors for each category. If the sysadmin was required to view UIs (not to mention managing the monitoring software for each app) for each vendor, they would have tens of screens to view. This is not the solution. Can you imagine using 3 different UIs just to visualize hardware information across your datacenter? This is a reality for many sysadmins, so when they cried for help, we delivered. Server & Application Monitor not only monitors hardware health across multiple vendors but combines that information with OS, VM and application performance to get a comprehensive view of the environment.