Business Critical Apps in the Cloud

I’ve talked a lot on moving workloads to the cloud and helped many customers and partners on their journey. The issue with putting business critical apps up is always around visibility and control of it whilst in the cloud.

I have often looked at the likes of Dynatrace, AppDynamics and NewRelic as they’re in the leaders quadrant in APM. I always thought they sounded great but would be pretty hard to set up so never really took it much further.

The Problem

Most companies I’ve talked to have already moved some workloads up into the cloud. Generally its web services or email into Office 365 etc.

What they are still keeping tightly to their chests though are those sacred business critical apps. The question of why they haven’t moved those up too, the answer is often that they’re simply too scared.

When delving deeper its often because the cloud management platforms simply don’t give enough metrics and analytics.

Application Performance Monitoring

This is where these APM companies come in. Look ill be honest I was pretty skeptical but thought id give it a shot and see where I got.

What they do is capture every metric and measurable item on your server or application. What they do with this information and how they display it is what sets them apart from one another.

Lets Put it to the Test

Putting my money where my mouth is I decided to setup Dynatrace on my WhatWouldLukeDo.com blog.

My first thought is holy crap it was easy to setup. From start to finish I got my whole blog being monitored in about 10 minutes.

I created my own custom dashboard as seen below;

Business Critical Apps

As you can see I have set it up to measure the web server load and some pretty cool stats on the server itself. I installed their OneAgent which scrapes all the logs and processes from my blog and decides for me what i should care about.

Also one thing I found very cool was their step through recorder plugin. I got it to load up my blog and then step through a series of links. Really good insight into what parts of the web server are up/down/fast/slow.

Business Critical Apps

What about Business Critical Apps

The ability to create your own custom dashboards and use the slick AI is where the power is. Swamping admins down with alerts and warnings is always a bad idea. Your system administrators just end up with information overload so they end up ignoring it all.

This will allow any problems to be blasted right on your main dashboard as i found with a few of my own services when they crashed. Your business critical application can now get the love and attention it deserves through massive customisation.

You can watch services, get it to restart them if need be. Drill down into databases, run synthetic or live tests. This allows you to really determine if your business critical application is working as expected or not.

The big power I see comes over time as the product learns and becomes self-aware (sorry for the Terminator 2 reference). Common or regular problems can be fixed on the fly and you are simply notified of the issue after it has been resolved/restarted.

Conclusion

As we saw at the top of the blog, the Gartner magic quadrant has Dynatrace, AppDynamics and NewRelic up as leaders. I chose Dynatrace as they seem to have the best offering. It was the easiest from zero to monitored. AppDynamics was also easy to sign up but it just didn’t have the same appeal.

This isn’t a sponsored post. Just my thoughts on using an APM tool for your business critical apps.

If you have thrown a few simple services up into the cloud and have been cautious about exposing your business critical apps then don’t be. With Dynatrace (or other APM software) you can now make sure that the services and level of detail can definitely be monitored and actioned. Even in a cloud provider where you feel as though you’ve lost control you can still stay as close to your applications as you need to be.

Definitely worth investigating whether the time is right for you to start moving more critical applications to the cloud.

 

Luke Brown

Author: Luke Brown

Luke Brown is an Advisory Systems Engineer at Dell EMC. He is passionate about all things tech and loves a good debate.

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