The editors at SearchSOA regularly recognize particular services, middleware and architecture technologies for their innovation and market impact. The AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform is the June 2015 selection.
Release date: June 2, 2015
What it does
AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform (AIP) for microservice architectures aims to unite monitoring of applications across diverse application environments, a process that has previously required a variety of application- and architecture-specific management tools. Enterprise architects and developers can use it to identify and track business transactions end-to-end, including all API calls, in real time through all microservices and infrastructure components. For example, this capability can enable discovery of a request that caused specific calls to other microservices and at what point in that transaction a problem occurred.
What sets it apart?
AppDynamic's new platform promises application intelligence capabilities for microservice environments by delivering tracking and reporting capabilities across complex, distributed, heterogeneous environments. Walking the diversity walk, this platform can be deployed across multiple environments: software as a service, hybrid cloud and on-premises.
"People are now decomposing their applications. Rather than having one big monolithic application, they've started to break them out into smaller pieces," explained Jonah Kowall, AppDynamics' vice president of market development and insights and a former Gartner analyst. This microservices approach speeds up application delivery and value to customers.
AppDynamics AIP addresses the complexity of tracking transactions in microservices, says Jason Bloomberg, president of agile digital transformation analyst firm Intellyx. "Microservices are small units of execution that typically contain not just running code, but also the runtime, caching and operating system support necessary to run the code in a container or other virtual environment. As a result, microservice architectures typically contain large, continually shifting numbers of microservices, each doing a specific task."
Why it's cool
Helping enterprises manage increasingly diverse application environments is great, but industry analysts see AppDynamics AIP's pricing model as its cool factor. Dennis Callaghan, a 451 Research analyst, sees it as the industry's first application performance management (APM) pricing model to address microservices architectures, which call for monitoring the growing number of smaller instances enterprises are and will be using.
Agent units are the pricing base in the AppDynamics AIP, part of AppDynamics APM services. Agents are injected into the application code to enable business transaction monitoring. Typically fewer units per virtual machine are needed in microservices. In standard Java projects, for example, a developer might need one unit for each Java virtual machine (JVM) more than 1 GB. When deploying Java microservices with a heap size of less than 1 GB, however, the developer uses fewer units, like 5 JVMs per unit.
"Now you're not going to have to pay a full price for every single one of these microservice Java virtual machines," Callaghan said.
Bloomberg sees serious flaws in using traditional APM approaches that align pricing with traditional runtime environments in microservices environments. "The runtime itself -- including Java virtual machine instances, for example -- is pared down and widely distributed in a microservice architecture," he said. "For this reason, microservice performance management must take into account the unique characteristics of microservice architectures in order to align with customer needs and budgets."
What industry insiders say
Industry insiders see AppDynamics doing with AIP just what APM vendors must do as monolithic enterprise applications divide and multiply. They are enthusiastic about the new platform's promise in price and functionality, but advise due diligence and testing in evaluating a new platform unproven by case studies.
Cloud and IT consultant Tom Nolle sees AppDynamics AIP's approach offering two linchpin solutions for applications and services that involve chains of component executions:
- The ability to see application and transaction behavior and trace transactions across increasingly complex and distributed environments
- A viable economic model that reflects the need to monitor many and multiplying smaller instances
"The problem that arises [in microservices] is that you can't figure out what's causing a problem because you don't see the total data flow," said Nolle, president of CIMI Corp. and a contributor to TechTarget. AppDynamics claims "to offer visibility into all t he API calls, and -- presuming that's really true -- it would be important for cloud computing and also for things like [network functions virtualization]."
Constellation Research's surveys predict a surge of new digital business platforms arising, said Ray Wang, president. As part of that movement, he said, AppDynamics AIP is "a good start."
As mentioned above, AppDynamics AIP is priced by unit, which is basically what monitors your application. Pricing is tiered in the following categories:
- Lite: Free
- Pro for 1-10 agent units: $180 per unit each month.
- Pro for 11-25 units: $2,970 per unit annually
- Pro for more than 25 units: custom quote
Customization options are available, and some discounts are offered based on overall account size, licenses committed up front, duration of agreement, combination of solutions chosen and other factors.
AppDynamics takes on APM