This episode of DevOps Chats is with Justin Vaughan-Brown of AppDynamics. This was recorded just prior to the announcement of Cisco’s intent to acquire AppDynamics for about $3.7B. So sorry, folks no insight into that deal here. Nevertheless, Justin is a DevOps veteran. While at AppDynamics for just a few months, Justin has worked and helped lead several DevOps tool and consulting businesses. He has some great insights that he shares here with us.
As usual, the streaming audio of our conversation is immediately below, followed by a transcript of our conversation. Enjoy!
Alan Shimel: Hey everyone, Alan Shimel, DevOps.com here for another DevOps Chat. And our guest for this edition of DevOps Chat is Justin Vaughn Brown of AppDynamics. Justin, welcome to DevOps Chats.
Justin Vaughan-Brown: Thanks Alan, glad to be with you.
Alan Shimel: Glad to have you here. Justin, you are a DevOps industry veteran, if there is such thing, in a relatively short time. But you’re hanging your hat at AppDynamics now. How long have you actually been with AppDynamics?
Justin Vaughan-Brown: I’ve been with AppDynamics since – it was the very last day of October, so kind of two to three months in now.
Alan Shimel: Perfect, just enough to get I guess the lay of the land there. And as we spoke beforehand Justin, and as I think most of our audience, it’s been a busy two to three months, you know, between the end of the year and everything going on in the market you’ve had a good chance I would imagine to get a flavor for not only what AppDynamics is doing but really kind of where the market is heading a little bit in terms of DevOps APM and stuff like this. Correct?
Justin Vaughan-Brown: Absolutely Alan. I think what was very interesting was – actually a few weeks after joining – was spending time with customers and partners and colleagues at App Sphere in Las Vegas in November: that was absolutely fascinating, so that was a real eye opener in terms of how APM customers – you know, those of AppDynamics are actually using DevOps and adopting it and how they’re leveraging our technology to help them in their DevOps adoption.
Alan Shimel: Yes, I was actually at App Sphere as you know – I was at App Sphere myself and it was a great conference and it was a great customer-focused conference in that there were a lot of users there – real live users, right? – the rare, endangered live user at these conference – not a Biz Dev first and not a sales person but real users and I had some fantastic conversations myself.
Justin, I wanted to spend a moment a little bit talking about APM because sometimes when we look at software development life cycles and kind of where the action is around DevOps you know a lot of people get all hot and bothered and hyped up around configuration management, right, the puppet and the chef and the ansible and salts and these kinds of things. And then, you know, they move from configuration management to CICD and of course that’s a world unto itself.
But then when we look at let’s say post deployment, you know, okay, so now we delivered and we’re delivering continuously, but what impact is that having? How are things going? Are our customers happy? Are we delivering better products, right, and are they performing as intended?
And you know all of these things you would think would make APM sort of king of the castle, top of the heap. But a lot of times it doesn’t: it kind of gets subsumed within the whole DevOps conversation or is maybe a little bit outside.
I’m interested in what’s your opinion on that?
Justin Vaughan-Brown: That’s an interesting perspective and I can see where you’re coming from. I think it’s possibly because, you know, from historically a lot of the vendors are more and more what you call classically the dev side and have generated a lot of interest and adoption. But ultimately we’ve seen the company grow from strength to strength, and I think what was really eye opening was – at App Sphere – was seeing how critical app dynamics was in enterprise DevOps adoption.
And I think what most particularly – you’ve hit the nail on the head there – if you look at for example the impact of those applications in production how are they actually performing, where our issues lie, where the – the apps themselves can be fine tuned and ensure that you have the best customer experience possible.
I think in the main – and this is a generalization of course now, there are exceptions – I think we’ve gone beyond the state where applications – with the exception of certain tougher cases like say, you know Black Friday and so forth where sometimes some organizations can have challenges – but in the main I think what we are seeing is most applications perform at what I would call a base level – what we’re really now into is tuning them: is identifying absolutely the tiniest little bit of latency or glaze or issues wherever they may lie so that the performance of those applications, irrespective of where they’re delivered – you know, on a tablet or mobile device, on a PC or whatever – are highly high performance, and again, irrespective of platform, operating system or so forth – all of those – I think that’s become one of the overriding demands.
And I think it’s evolved even more so now – you know, we recently launched Business IQ which actually drills it even further and actually looks at the business benefit of the application you’ve released where a consumer’s using the application, where are they located, where are they on the user journey, where are they on the purchase cycle. And you’re finding lots of consumers are going through to about to purchase and then there’s a delay in the actual purchase process as the transaction is going through or not going through.
So I think it’s definitely evolved and I think we’re seeing certainly an absolute relevance for APM now.
Alan Shimel: Got it. Absolutely. Justin, let me – as I said earlier you’re a DevOps industry veteran though and AppDynamics isn’t your first stop on the DevOps train.
Why don’t you, if you can share with our audience a little bit – we’d like to hear your views though on – so that’s APM and what sets it apart – what other kind of – let’s look at trends in the DevOps space and maybe how it relates to APMs.
What other kind of trends are you seeing?
Justin Vaughan-Brown: I think one of the interesting ones that we’re seeing is – you know, you’ve seen the evolution of Docker over the last kind of 18 months to 24 months, and I think that and the overall rise of containerizations in general is having a huge impact.
I recently saw an article by a bank – folks who were going to report that they’d recently issued on the – I would say the stellar rise of containerization and adoption, and it’s almost a case of, you know, there’s no going back.
So I think it’s really down now to where you’re adopting containers and to what degree, one or another, if, for example. And that’s where we’ve seen our ability to help that; for example in terms of their integrating and monitoring docker container performance easily to ensure that you’re optimizing and maximizing the potential there and that doesn’t become a black box area where you’re not getting the granularity of insights that you’re looking for. So that’s one area definitely.
I think also, you know, with cloud adoption as well, to be able to monitor across multi cloud environments – and that’s just not one vendor only, you know – as I said multi cloud – whether it’s Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and so forth.
So I think there’s a need to be, you know, platform and cloud agnostic going forward. And that’s something recently I’ve seen at analyst conferences where they talked about so many enterprises now from an operations point of view being cloud brokers and then looking at not just one vendor – not being locked in – but being able to switch and change dependent on which particular application they’re working on or initiative and so forth. So I think those are two clear areas.
I think the last one probably I’d highlight is micro services where, for example, the ability with APM to automatically monitor in micro services, you know, deployed in an elastic infrastructure so you can look at issues around say threat contention and then zoom in and identify and address their root causes.
So seeing all these kind of technologies orbiting around that APM can absolutely assist in the adoption. And if you adopt this properly obviously they’re hugely advantageous. If you struggle with them then they can actually set you back and you’re worse than if you hadn’t embarked on that journey. So those are three that immediately come to mind Alan.
Alan Shimel: And I don’t disagree with any of them Justin, I think they’re all dead on.
Let me throw another – and this might be a bit of a curveball at you – but as a fellow observer of the DevOps space Justin what I find interesting is that when we first started talking about DevOps everyone sort of said, “Oh yeah, DevOps is great for startups because it’s in their DNA and they do it by – you know, not by choice: they have to. And this is – DevOps was made for these folks.”
Where you know this whole issue of “enterprise DevOps” was almost like a different animal or a different set of stripes. And you know I was always one of the ones that argued DevOps is DevOps, you’ve got to recognize who your customer is and who your organization is, but the principals of DevOps apply across small and large organizations.
But low and behold here we are now, you know, a new year and we’re a couple more years into this DevOps thing and it almost feels like DevOps is a big organization way of doing business, maybe even more so than the startups. What’s your feeling on that?
Justin Vaughan-Brown: I think you’re absolutely spot on Alan. I mean I think we’ve both been on that journey where we’ve observed certain trends and how the markets evolved.
And if you look at, for example, at the DevOps Enterprise Summit that took place last year in San Francisco and London – both extremely well-attended – and then if you look at those agendas on both of those the vast majority from my perspective of those presenters presenting from the end user side were representing enterprise organizations – household names – in fact if anything those smaller organizations were the minority, and equally even the – you know, there’s also I think with the larger organizations it was those that were not just the, you know, the purely kind of online shop equivalents where they’ve got no legacy infrastructure that they have to deal with: a lot of these are, you know, 50-, 100-year-old companies that have been around a long time yet are making that brave journey.
And I’d like to just kind of re-quote an observation made by Gene Kim last year when he said what really impresses him is – it makes him really think of people who are being heroes within these large enterprises, within these organizations, who are, you know, probably I’d say mid-level advanced in their career and in age and during their career who are making these brave decisions, who are doing things differently: they could carry on as normal.
And in doing so they are trying different things, they are embarking on new journeys and they’re bringing their teams with them, they’re collaborating more closely.
And I think that’s – it’s those kind of – I think Gene Kim is absolutely spot on in it’s those kinds of heroes, those catalysts to change – and I think frankly DevOps is absolutely for the enterprise and will continue to be so.
Alan Shimel: Makes sense. Justin we’re running a little low on time. Let me turn this back to App Dynamics if you don’t mind. What are you – so we’ve talked about these trends, we see the market kind of taking shape – what does it mean for AppDynamics?
Justin Vaughan-Brown: I think it means a lot of opportunities to continue to help the enterprise customers. Most of all I think – you know, from a personal level I’m very excited by the recent release of Business IQ because I think that enables DevOps teams now to take information relating to how that application is being consumed, where and in which way of these visual user journeys – to actually then take that information and present it to the business – and that moves it from purely a DevOps conversation to a business one just to say, “Look this is – you know, we’ve all be slaving away the last couple of months on this application. Here’s the actual impact to your business; this is what’s happening, this is the value.”
And then maybe the business turns around to say, “You know what? Interestingly sales in this region are going really well but not in this region or this group of customers, you know, our gold card member carriers are absolutely loving this promotion but our silver card holders aren’t. Maybe we need to incentivize them in some way,” you know, and so forth.
So that’s moving, as I said, the DevOps teams into a more business conversation. We know about this topic such as Citizen Developers and obviously Shadow iTeam – more and more and more the businesses are being involved in these decisions, and that’s the way for DevOps to help drive that dialogue rather than being on the receiving end and taking requests from the business, that they’re actually driving that discussion which puts them in a really good position.
Alan Shimel: Excellent. Justin, we’re just about out of time here but I want to ask you one last question and that’s the kind of question I ask a lot of our guests here on DevOps Chat.
For our audience listening out there if you had to recommend one book – and not the usual, you know, Gene Kim Phoenix Project that you would expect from a DevOps podcast – what book would that be?
Justin Vaughan-Brown: I think I would go back to a book and a course that I took almost 20 years ago which is The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People by Steven Covey which pretty much broke down most of everything that I knew and rebuilt it another way and gave me a fresh perspective, so I strongly recommend that.
And if you’re pushed for time I think there’s some YouTube videos where you can go in and get the canned insight in 15 minutes, so that’s well worth taking a coffee break.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. But that’s a classic. And for any of our listeners who have not read that one it really should shoot to the top of your list.
Hey, Justin Vaughn Brown, AppDynamics, thanks for being this episode’s guest on DevOps Chat. Look forward to having you on again soon and sharing some more market insights.
Justin Vaughan-Brown: My pleasure. Thanks very much indeed Alan.
Alan Shimel: Okay. This is Alan Shimel for DevOps.com and DevOps Chat. We’ll see you soon on the next DevOps Chat.