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Cisco's Skyport Move Illustrates APM Movement

January 26, 2018

Less than a year after buying AppDynamics, Cisco is acquiring another business application assurance firm. That company is privately-held, Mountain View, California-based Skyport Systems. Skyport provides cloud-managed, hyper-converged systems that run and protect business-critical applications.

Application performance monitoring and assurance is a hot area of interest and activity lately. That’s due to both new business imperatives and new technologies.

Apps have become a centerpiece in how businesses today interact with their customers. And APM helps ensure these apps are performing as needed. So APM is considered by many sources as a key component for digital transformation success. APM also can help drive internal and operational efficiencies.

“Applications are the lifeblood of every enterprise,” notes Sameer Padhye, founder and CEO of FixStream, which offers an AIOps platform. “Your financial health depends upon these applications. And more – and more mission-critical – apps are moving to the cloud every day. So you need to know how your business apps are performing. And when they’re not performing as needed, you have to be able to move quickly to figure out why and implement a fix.”

Then there are the straight technology considerations of APM. Many companies today are employing the cloud, containers, and microservices, which allow them to expedite the delivery of new solutions. But the old way of monitoring no longer works with these new technologies and architectures.

“As hybrid cloud becomes more widespread, we are likely to witness an increasing number of organizations adopt a smart data approach, which enables them to obtain a top-down service assurance approach, based on a detailed picture of the hybrid IT environment, to truly understand applications and service availability, reliability and responsiveness and troubleshoot service issues, both in real-time and back-in-time,” said Michael Segal, area vice president of strategic marketing at NETSCOUT. “Applications and services leveraging innovative hybrid cloud technologies are only as good as the visibility IT has of the entire delivery infrastructure, and so by focusing on investment and understanding service and application dependencies, businesses will be able to dramatically mitigate risk.” 

Containers and microservices have brought chaos to the process of managing app performance, added Pete Waterhouse of CA Technologies in a November article for APM Digest.

The same month Dynatrace noted the following. “While the growth of microservices, containerization, and cloud environments has enabled companies to innovate and respond to consumer and market influences more quickly, the complexity of the IT stack has vastly increased. As a result, the need for application performance monitoring that utilizes artificial intelligence to understand the complexities of performance in hyper-dynamic cloud environments is an absolute must for all digital businesses.”

So, existing APM solution providers are expanding their offerings. And new companies, which could broadly be considered as players in the APM vein, are coming to market.

Dynatrace; AppDynamics (for Cisco bought in March for $3.7 billion); and New Relic are considered the top APM players.

Others in this space include AppNeta, BMC, CA Technologies, Correlsense, Elastic (which in June bought APM company Opbeat), ExtraHop, FixStream, GSX, HPE, IBM, JenniferSoft, ManageEngine, Microsoft, Nastel Technologies, NETSCOUT, OneAPM, Oracle, Quest Software, Rigor, Riverbed (which bought APM company Aternity), Soasta (which Akamai Technologies bought in April), SolarWinds, and Tingyun.

Despite this already crowded space, new entrants continue to appear. For example, in November APM startup LightStep came out of stealth mode and introduced its first product. It also announced $29 million in funding from Sequoia, Redpoint, Cowboy Ventures, and Harrison Metal.

"LightStep [x]PM not only finds our performance problems, it tells us why they're happening,” Twilio Senior Vice President Platform Jason Hudak said. “Within an hour of running LightStep, our billing transactions team was able to identify issues and deliver betterments that led to a 70 percent reduction in latency. LightStep helps me sleep better at night knowing that our engineers will able to identify and remediate issues in real-time, maintaining customers' trust in Twilio."

Such noteworthy APM benefits help explain why this market grew 13 percent last year. And spending on APM solutions is expected to be in the neighborhood of $5.6-6 billion by 2020.

Gartner defines APM as one or more software and/or hardware components that facilitate monitoring to meet five main functional dimensions:

• end user experience monitoring,

• application topology discovery and visualization,

• user-defined transaction profiling,

• application component deep dive, and

• IT operations analytics.

The research firm says IT ops teams make up two-thirds of APM tool users. However, it adds, the user profile for APM solutions is diversifying. APM tools, the firm notes, can also benefit DevOps, business operations, and testing teams. But, Gartner emphasizes that businesses should put the most focus on production environments because that’s what matters most.

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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