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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview with Gibu Mathew, ManageEngine

June 21, 2013 No Comments

In the following interview, Gibu Mathew from ManageEngine discusses the rise of application performance monitoring delivered as a cloud-based service and why such a service may be in your future.

  • Q: What’s driving the market for SaaS editions of application performance monitoring solutions?

A: Traditional application performance monitoring with on-premise products simply isn’t agile enough to handle today’s dynamic, web apps. If you think about it, today’s apps and services are being delivered to multiple frontends including standard web browsers, native apps running on smartphones and tablets, APIs accessed by partners and more.

Additionally, developers are using query caching, configuration synching, patching, text storage, image storage and other specialized technologies to build responsive, intelligent web apps that can also scale. And while they help developers overcome the scalability and other functional limitations posed by commodity hardware, those additional technologies multiply the number of moving parts for every request. Bottom line, troubleshooting performance problems is harder and more time consuming for today’s web app.

  • Q: So how does a cloud-based, application performance monitoring service fit into the picture?

A: By moving application performance monitoring off premise and into the cloud, you can give developers the best of two worlds — active synthetic transaction monitoring and passive real user monitoring, rolled up into one. It’s hard to get that right with on-premise software, but it’s imperative in businesses that don’t tolerate service degradations or downtime.

The detailed, holistic view means that developers and IT ops staff can see all of the moving parts in their web apps. So when they have to tune or troubleshoot their apps, they have the visibility they need to move quickly and decisively. That’s what makes an application performance monitoring service a must-have tool for anybody running web apps, especially companies that run SaaS or cloud services in a multi-tenant environment.

Additionally, the lower barrier to entry that software as a service itself offers brings in a whole new untapped user base.

  • Q: How are developers factoring into today’s application performance monitoring?

A: The cloud has accelerated the application lifecycle, especially when apps are still in production. That acceleration is behind such developments as the DevOps movement, which is trying to compress the time it takes to move an application from development to deployment by the IT operations teams. It’s not uncommon for companies to deploy a new version of a production web app once a week or even once a day. The most active web apps may see multiple deployments per day. In such environments, developers need the immediate, detailed insight provided by an application performance monitoring service to quickly identify and troubleshoot performance bottlenecks. Specifically, they need to know if the latest update has resulted in a major performance problem.

  • Q: Where are you seeing the most aggressive adoption of application performance monitoring services? What are the dominant verticals and typical use cases?

A: Ecommerce is, hands down, the most aggressive adopter of these services. That’s really not a surprise given an ecommerce company’s web app is its business. Beyond ecommerce, we are seeing a lot of adoption by companies running web applications like flight search, information portals and newer SaaS applications.

As for a typical troubleshooting use case, take an application that runs on five virtual machines to cater to 3,000 active sessions. Response times usually average 3 seconds, but users begin to complain about performance after the last major update when the average response times increased to 5.5 seconds. The application traces provided by the application performance monitoring service would quickly reveal that, in this particular case, the 2-second increase in response time occurred across web pages as a result of a new database query that was added during the major update. The detailed information on the method and function calls greatly simplifies and speeds up the troubleshooting.

  • Q: What’s in store for the future of application performance monitoring services? What kind of growth and what kinds of features do you anticipate?

A: When we look into our crystal ball, we see tremendous growth in this area. More companies are deploying more business-critical applications as web applications, and that’s going to continue for the foreseeable future. For our own cloud infrastructure monitoring service, Site24x7, revenues have been growing at 100% CAGR. And the industry as a whole appears healthy, given the number of new vendors in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and the funding received by companies like New Relic and AppDynamics.

In terms of features, what you’re going to see going forward is continued expansion on the end-to-end view that applications performance monitoring services can provide. For some vendors, that’s going to mean supporting transactions across application servers or establishing a global presence to monitor a web app from multiple geographical locations. For others, it’ll mean building out new hardware and software monitoring capabilities or expanding existing capabilities. I think you’ll also see these services being used to monitor enterprise applications in addition to custom web apps.

Gibu Mathew is director, product management at ManageEngine. Gibu has been with Zoho Corp. for over 12 years, working in the IT Management space. He is personally responsible for the SaaS offerings focused on cloud infrastructure monitoring and application performance monitoring. He revels in helping customers solve application performance problems in production. In his career, he has held development, product management and marketing responsibilities.

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