Michael Azoff is a Principal Analyst at Ovum. He has been working as an IT industry analyst since 2003. At Ovum he leads the software development and lifecycle management (SDLM) research which includes Agile and Lean development, DevOps and application performance management (APM) technologies. We spoke to Michael about the latest trends on APM technologies.
Boundary: What’s your view of the APM market today?
Azoff: The growth of the cloud, use of mobile, the virtualization of the data center and network virtualization has created considerable change when it comes to monitoring performance. There is also a Big Data dimension to APM metric data generated and how to analyze those volumes. This has in turn created a new breed of small APM companies that are focused on individual pain points and are able to provide immediate value through their product or service. Another trend is from the point of view of large vendors that are trying to cover every scenario. Finally, the cloud providers themselves may deliver monitoring services to their clients, and that can be a differentiator in the market.
B: Do you see consolidation on the horizon from this larger set of APM vendors?
A: I think we will continue to see many different tools at play in the market because to purchase a suite, you’ve got to have a big budget. Most large enterprises will continue to look at those APM suite solutions but there are lots of smaller companies that need help, so they can start with a niche product from a smaller vendor. Both the large and smaller vendors can offer or integrate more tools and services to its customers, as customers need them; this is a common pattern of getting in the door to solve a pain point and then expanding as the relationship grows.
B: How has mobile app management affected APM product development?
A: This has become a complex challenge especially when you’re talking about enterprise applications and BYOD. Companies need an APM solution which can work across a wide range of devices. As a vendor, you can try and cover the top two or three platforms but even with Android, there are so many variations of the OS. After Android it’s iOS, but then in third place, it’s unclear. It’s either RIM or Windows but they both still possess small market share compared to Android and iOS. Mobile APM was a work in progress for many vendors at the time of Ovum’s last APM report and we expect this will improve by our next report later in 2013.
B: Moving on to related application trends, what’s the relationship between Agile and DevOps?
A: There is a movement gaining in adoption about bringing Agile into the operations space. But we have found that because the Agile team is releasing code so much faster, it puts a lot of pressure on operations. The DevOps movement was started so that IT could deal with the changes brought on by Agile. It’s about breaking silos, improving collaboration and developing tools for release management and automation. The goal of DevOps teams is to reduce bottlenecks so that developers can deploy apps very rapidly (sometimes at the press of a source control system check-in button) when end users request that level of speed, and yet still comply with internal policies for data integrity and security. In addition, DevOps-related practices reduce risk and errors as operations staff battle the growing complexity of application deployment.
B: And how does all this affect application performance?
A: Agile has created new APM challenges. Instead of every six months, the development team may be releasing updates monthly, which creates a lot more work for the operations people. However, new automated tools such as release management and deployment pipelines are helping to manage this complexity. For the end-users receiving regular drops instead of a big bang delivery, the result is actually much easier to handle over time: no big changes to learn all at once but immediate value from incremental growth in functionality. This also means that operations can keep on top of resource requirements.
B: How so?
A: Agile releases are step changes instead of a massive update all at once that can have enormous implications on the environment and user performance. With Agile, each small update flows into the next one, making it easier to implement and manage change. New APM technologies will have to deal with this more dynamic and constantly-changing application architecture. The increased IT activity that Agile and DevOps introduce provides an opportunity for APM vendors to manage the rise in complexity and address issues before they affect the business.
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