How Application Performance Management Can Take DevOps to the Next Level


The digital transformation process driving growth in today's cutting-edge enterprises is very much a story of applications, and DevOps/continuous delivery practices is instrumental in accelerating delivery of that new software. Yet, according to new research by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), 70% of companies still utilize primarily siloed, manual troubleshooting practices when addressing application performance issues.

Why is this a problem? Well, those same organizations report that such troubleshooting practices are the No. 1 factor slowing the continuous delivery pipeline – which is contrary to the DevOps credos of accelerated development, increased automation, and frequent, high-quality releases.

Now, several new resources, including a Riverbed webinar and an EMA whitepaper, show how employing Application Performance Management (APM) techniques throughout the continuous delivery lifecycle can "grease the wheels" and lead to truly optimized application delivery.

Webinar: Is APM the Missing Link in YOUR DevOps Tool Chain?

Deliver superior digital experiences with lifecycle performance insights

An upcoming webinar, hosted by experts Mason Coffman (Riverbed) and Julie Craig (EMA), will delve into the importance of integrating APM into the DevOps lifecycle. Highlights will include:

  • Why it's a mistake to put APM "low on the DevOps tool chain totem pole" 
  • How does APM apply to DevOps, and how can it pick up the slack left by other tools? 
  • High performers don't sacrifice quality for speed (and should never need to) 
  • Inside look: How APM increased app performance and quality for one supermarket chain
  • An overview of Riverbed's APM solutions for DevOps 

The webinar will take place on October 3 at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern. Register now to reserve your spot and to be notified when the broadcast is about to begin.

Fail fast, but also better

In anticipation of the webinar, Riverbed Connections reached out to Coffman to seek further insight into APM's ability to improve and optimize the DevOps cycle.

As Coffman notes, DevOps has an underlying notion of "fail fast, fail often," so not every release will be perfect. That said, with performance monitoring tools added to the equation, teams can still apply the “fast" portion of that mantra while also experiencing a higher likelihood of success.

"APM becomes a kind of connective tissue between all DevOps tools, and really throughout the entire software development lifecycle," says Coffman. "As the de facto performance analytics engine, it removes a lot of the guesswork. Instead of assuming that the software will behave as intended upon deployment, APM lets you more or less prove it, providing more realistic feedback loops that better simulate the real-world conditions in which the app is intended to thrive."

Put another way, Coffman sees APM as an important way of marrying the increased velocity and automation of DevOps with a greater level of quality assurance throughout the entire cycle, including on a pre-deployment basis.

“DevOps-oriented teams that really desire to apply this ‘shift-left’ mentality and focus on quality earlier in the lifecycle need to shift the usage of APM left, too — it’s not just a production monitoring or troubleshooting solution,” Coffman says. "After all," he concludes, "quickly getting new features into users' hands means very little if they ultimately become frustrated with the new release, or otherwise fail or refuse to leverage it. APM gives you more assurances that they’ll use apps as designed."

Blog: Three Ways Performance Monitoring Gives DevOps a Boost

Coffman expanded upon these views in this recent blog post, outlining three ways performance monitoring can improve application and service delivery and make a greater impact on business.

  • Integrate performance monitoring into continuous delivery and continuous integration: Identify bugs early so developers can focus on coding instead of recreating test scenarios. Pre-release performance monitoring ensures the app can sustain load and not buckle under pressure.
  • Resolve issues in production before business is impacted: The fully integrated APM toolset gives a holistic view of users' experiences, leading to shorter MTTRs (mean time to resolution). Resolve issues before business is impacted, with unified dashboards enhancing inter-team collaboration.
  • Measure the impact of releases for more informed roadmap planning: Use APM to understand how users adopt the app, which features are popular, and how they're performing. Understand the financial impact of every aspect of the application.

Visit Coffman's blog entry to get the full details on each of these points and other insights, too.

Whitepaper: Software Strategies for the Digital Business

A new whitepaper from EMA, based on the results of several surveys, digs even deeper into APM's ability to optimize the DevOps cycle. Here are a few highlights.

  • Page 1: Year-over-year revenue often increased by at least 25% at companies with "excellent" Dev/Ops team coordination or which increased software delivery frequency by 25% or more in the prior year.
  • Page 4: Continuous delivery can be bottlenecked by the slowest point in the app delivery process. Appropriate instrumentation is required to ensure that each stage is executed with maximum efficiency. The worst bottleneck, cited by 44% of those surveyed, is the manual troubleshooting processes.
  • Page 6: Key advantages of integrating APM across the app development lifecycle include automatic detection and diagnosis of problems, ability to drill down to root causes, and improved communication throughout the IT organization and line of business.

You can access the full EMA whitepaper, entitled "Software Strategies for the Digital Business," right here.

APM and DevOps: here to stay

The practice of using APM to optimize the DevOps lifecycle will continue to proliferate as more organizations realize its potential benefits. To learn more about this trend, catch the upcoming webinar and visit Riverbed's DevOps Solutions page. You can also see it in action right now by signing up for a free SteelCentral trial.