Traditional APM systems today can’t measure up to tomorrow’s processes
IT today is inordinately complex; continually pushing the boundaries and comprehension for even the most sophisticated minds. And while modern IT is unlocking new, innovative experiences and capabilities, the advent of cloud computing and its distributed, ephemeral nature has also made it extremely difficult for IT managers to keep apprised of their infrastructure stacks.
This reality has taken shape so swiftly and with such a vengeance that Gartner estimates by 2021, enterprises will be able to monitor only 20 percent of their applications accurately. In a digital world, that is like a department head saying he or she knows what happens in only 20 percent of your factories or storefronts. Twenty percent, regardless of the industry or circumstance, is both unacceptable and a grave risk to business continuity and success.
APM Helps, But Not Much
Enterprises need to know what the other 80 percent is doing. Unfortunately, the traditional application performance management (APM) tools on which enterprises typically rely are no longer up to this task for three reasons.
First, the modern application suite looks very different today than it did just a short time ago. The monolithic and custom ERPs, CRMs and other enterprise systems that were the hallmark of big businesses a decade ago are giving way to cloud-based, off-the-shelf, as-a-service solutions constantly updated with iterative DevOps and agile development techniques.
Second, most traditional APM tools rely on embedded monitoring agents installed on the monitored system, or they need code-level insertions tactics to monitor. Either way, that type of burden is unsustainable at today’s enterprise scale and doesn’t work when applications are launched in containerized cloud environments. It also fails to account for the shift to more off-the-shelf or as-a-service solutions created without APM data outputs.
Finally, the very infrastructure enterprise operates on looks nothing like it did even five years ago. Most enterprises have moved (or are in the process of moving) to cloud, multi-cloud, or at least hybrid infrastructure. The advent of cloud and the ephemeral nature of microservices and containers means that application topology looks very different at 8 a.m. when only early-bird employees are in the office, then it does at 10 a.m. when the remaining employees arrive. That unpredictability is a nightmare for APM tools, which, at best, now offer only a keyhole view of the entire IT enterprise; performance management now relies as much on the infrastructure as it does the application.
So, What Needs to Change?
Traditional APM tools are battleships in an asymmetric warfare age: highly specialized and designed for a single mission, but at the cost of the flexibility to adapt to modern environments as needed. We need carrier groups, not battleship armadas.
The ideal APM solution for modern enterprises is an “agent-less” or “agent everywhere” approach. A modern solution must holistically consider how one application interacts with other applications. For instance, how does online ordering generate data and feed into warehouse processing tickets? And it must understand how those applications interact with the underlying infrastructure. For example, where are databases or applications stored and how reliable is that infrastructure?
Current APM solutions miss the mark entirely, scratching only the most superficial layer of today’s technology stack when instead, they need to understand the relations from the deepest layers of infrastructure out to the end users’ experiences. Such an approach will allow enterprises to see into the other 80 percent of applications and deliver the insight and automation needed to drive robust and innovative digital experiences.
However, knowing you need visibility and having it are two very different things. Fortunately, innovation within AIOps through agent and agentless technologies promises to deliver what conventional APM can no longer.
By making visibility into application layers easier and deploying machine learning-enabled topological mapping between infrastructure and applications, AIOps is allowing for more detailed insights into the health of mission-critical business services than ever before. It allows enterprises to regain the visibility they’ve lost to an ephemeral world and be able to understand, organize and innovate with the agility they need to compete in today’s business environments.
It is time to leave traditional APM behind and move forward into an AIOps enabled world. Neglecting to do so puts the business at ever-greater risk.