How APM Reduces Risks and Unlocks Value for DevOps


More and more, IT departments are moving to a DevOps model, unifying development and operations to enable the frictionless rollout of applications and services. The advantages of that speedy development are obvious, but they come with risks — risks that can be reduced or eliminated with the right monitoring tools and processes.

In the webinar "Explore APM Best Practices to Improve DevOps Success," Riverbed Senior Solutions Marketing Manager Mason Coffman and Riverbed Director of Product Management Peco Karayanev provide hands-on tips on how you can use Riverbed's performance monitoring tools to enable the shift to DevOps.

We spoke to Karayanev to get further insight into the topic, and he explained two big-picture ways that application performance monitoring can help businesses:

  • Focus on relevant metrics
  • Democratize visibility

Let's dive in to find out more.

Eyes on the prize

Karayanev told us a story about a continuous integration event where he led a talk. "I asked people, ‘how many of you monitor your service?’" he says. "Most people raised their hands. Then I asked, ‘all right, how many of you monitor applications?’ That time it was about half. Then I asked, ‘how many of you monitor the end-user experience?’ There were two people in the room that raised their hands — out of several hundred."

That might not be surprising to anyone working in IT. But since a good end-user experience is precisely what we're trying to deliver, it's a mindset that gets things backwards.

"DevOps is built around continuous delivery. Well, how are you going to understand the end results of what you’re delivering?" he asked. "We're adopting these new ways of building things faster and adopting new frameworks and platforms, and there’s an inherent risk and challenge with stability that goes along with it. Say you're working on a major application that needs to launch in three months. For customers it’s not just important to launch the application; it’s important to deliver a good user experience at the end."

The shift to a DevOps mindset demands that we keep our focus on the metrics that most closely measure what customers or end users will see as we continuously tinker with our infrastructure, because it's ever more difficult to roll back to a discrete "good" previous state.

"The tendency is to start with server monitoring and go to end-user monitoring later," says Karayanev. "I think people in businesses would be much better served if it were the other way around."

Everybody get in here

What does it meant to "democratize" visibility? APM tools produce a lot of data about how applications and infrastructure are working — and in the DevOps spirit of removing silos, that data should be available to anyone who's interested.

"Everybody brings a different perspective," explains Karayanev. "The infrastructure people know what resources are allocated and how they perform. The application people know the application inside out — the logic, how it’s supposed to work, and so forth. Business owners understand the goals for that application from a business perspective. All these constituents can benefit immediately from visibility into applications. It enables them to have more constructive conversations on what improvements need to be made."

Karayanev says that several Riverbed customers requested simple dashboards that could be shared throughout the company. The intention was to be "good citizens" — but even they were pleasantly surprised by how many people ended up using them, right up into management.  

"If you're starting this journey, you don’t know what you don’t know," Karayanev says. "Visibility provides a baseline — with data, not just hearsay and anecdotes — of how things are performing. And once you know where you stand, you can start your improvement efforts. It's the catalyst for the technology organization to start thinking differently about service delivery — more about the user experience and improving the business processes, not just putting out fires."

Visibility: The key to making DevOps work

You'll want to check out the webinar for a lot more insights into why DevOps needs the right kind of performance monitoring to be truly successful. Topics covered include:

  • What skills you should look for to develop your monitoring practice
  • Starter tips on instrumenting your environment
  • Hints on how to properly collect and analyze APM data
  • The top things you should look for in an APM toolset

For more information on this topic, check out the EMA whitepaper "DevOps/Continuous Delivery Tooling: Launchpad for the Digital Enterprise," along with "APM for Dummies," a free e-book from Riverbed.

If you're ready to take the next step, get more information about a free trial of APM tools from Riverbed.