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How APM can help eliminate continuous delivery issues

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Companies are rapidly adopting the DevOps culture and methodology to embrace digital transformation and enable continuous delivery, the nonstop rollout of software upgrades. While continuous delivery continues to have a significant impact on both IT and business overall, it does come with challenges.

Continuous delivery’s impact on application quality

EMA recently cited in their report titled “APM in the Digital Economy: What’s Hot, What’s Not, and What’s on the Horizon” that while impact on the bottom line is positive, the impact on service quality is questionable at best. When asked about the impact of continuous delivery on business, 47 percent of respondents cited improved customer satisfaction, while 43 percent cited faster revenue growth.

However, the impact on application quality is worrisome. As shown in the figure below, more than 50 percent of companies indicated that faster delivery meant operations spent more time managing production environments. In addition, slightly less than 50 percent said development teams were spending more time supporting production. 45 percent of companies saw service levels degrading, and more than 35 percent cited an increase in performance and availability problems!

Excessive troubleshooting time, cost, lack of visibility, slow performance, and intermittent problems, with unknown causes: these are all part of today’s application delivery landscape.

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APM to the rescue?

Clearly that leads to the need for Automated Process Management (APM) tools throughout the continuous delivery lifecycle. EMA’s survey respondents identified APM as the No. 1 automation product type to accelerate continuous software delivery.

So what really are the inhibitors to problem resolution?

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Addressing concerns one by one

In light of the survey response, let’s take a look at how APM capabilities can address the problems cited in the survey.

Troubleshooting takes too long. Troubleshooting should not entail jumping from one screen to another searching for root cause. Cognitive APM tools have evolved to recommend solutions to problems encountered by mining data from wikis, forums, documents and past problem reports.

Lack of trending knowledge to understand what’s normal. Forecasting and trending based on historical metrics are critical. You need to proactively detect anomalies and provide insights for faster troubleshooting. Knowledge of baselines derived from studying historical trends sets dynamic thresholds and helps keep tabs on changing norms.

Existing tools not ready for hybrid cloud. Ability to provide end-to-end visibility across hybrid applications, no matter where their dependencies are located, public or private cloud or on premises in the data center is essential.

Poor change management. APM tools should show correlated views of application changes with performance. This will help isolate a fix quickly if poorer application performance was due to new changes occurring right before.

Silo tools used instead of application-focused tools. One of the biggest complaints from APM users is the number of tools to maintain, because average users look at four different product dashboards to troubleshoot. Unified APM solutions that provide complete monitoring capabilities and full breadth of coverage are advantageous.

Tools lack visibility into public cloud portion of end-to-end performance. Businesses are building cloud-native applications straight on public cloud platforms, which means getting metrics out of the cloud platform is imperative. Many APM tools treat public cloud as a black box, only detecting applications running on a public cloud like IBM Bluemix. To solve this problem, APM tools must aid diagnosis by providing consumption and resource metrics, and infrastructure logs on which the application runs.

To hear how APM and DevOps work together for one streamlined lifecycle, watch the webcast. To get a hands-on test of APM in your environment, sign up for the demo. Learn how APM can help DevOps practitioners streamline testing, deployment and management of hybrid business applications by downloading the no-cost DevOps APM for Dummies ebook.

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