How has it helped my organization?
The benefits are less man hours, less downtime, and faster resolutions. In the past, it was, "Oh no. The application isn't working. Let's fix it." It might get fixed within 24 hours because we did not have any idea what the issue was. It always came down to, “Well, reboot the servers. That usually works.” It worked, but we never knew what the root cause was.
Once we got AppDynamics, we could see that this part of the application is where the issue is. When they're trying to process these certain files, something's wrong in this sector. We may still have to reboot the servers to get the customers up and running immediately, but then we can circle back around that day and address the actual issue.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable feature is the live reporting on the current health\performance of our application: Are all of our transactions going smoothly? Are we having a bottleneck somewhere? Identifying problems before they impact the users. The live reporting and dashboard(s) allow us, at a quick glance, to see the overall health of our nationwide (US) application. We can see the health of our individual office locations (cities) and the individual users (PCs). At any given time we can tell which specific city and\or user is experiencing poor application performance. It even helps us determine if the issue is application, network, or user specific. Before we had AppDynamics APM, we were reactive. We’d wait for a phone call or email to tell us there was a problem and then go looking for it, find it, and resolve it. Now, after installing AppDynamics APM, we’re proactive. We can see the problems developing in real time. We can identify a problem and be half way to resolving it before we’ve even received a phone call or email. We’ve even discovered and resolved problems without the end users or management even realizing there was a problem.
What needs improvement?
A year earlier, if someone had asked me about room for improvement, I would've said end-user monitoring, which they have now. Analytics was great. I didn't even think that we would need that.
I think I would like to see a better way to deploy and upgrade the machine agents that we use. Currently, we have to use SCCM, and that might just be our environment with the customer. Personally, I am not the best with Linux commands; I'm learning. I'm a GUI person. Give me a button to click on with a mouse pointer, and that's just me.
I personally don't have anything I think they need to add. They're the great minds. They're the leaders of technology, so they'll think of what I need before I do.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I’ve never had a stability problem with it. It's always working; it's always operational. I’ve never had a glitch; never had the server just stop working. It's spot on.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I can't address scalability because we haven't been able to scale yet. As I’ve mentioned, the way the customer works, it's just one little group that wanted it, and everybody wants it now. Again, we have to go through the process of approval and funding. We haven't been able to touch on the scalability yet.
We have it on 400 servers and machines.
How is customer service and technical support?
We use technical support all the time. They were great when we finally acquired it. They came in and they helped set it up in our environment; made sure everything was discovered, reporting was working; explained the transactions, reports, the dashboard, all of that to us. We had some more questions at the 2015 AppSphere, and it is great because you can see the guys. We got in touch with someone else and they helped us with licensing issues. There was a couple of extensions we were trying to get working that we couldn't. They got all that squared away.
Recently, we had some consultant hours we needed to use. One of their guys spent three days with us on WebEx, fully customizing even more on the dashboards and the reporting center; and explained baselines to us better.
Technical support is excellent.
Which solutions did we use previously?
We did previously did not use an APM at all. It was just, applications would stop working; there would be bottlenecks; they'd be real slow; and complaints. You'd have the network guys saying, "No, everything's good on our end." You’d have the middle-tier guys saying, "Nope, my servers are online and running." You have the devs for the application saying, "No, no, no, no, it's not my code." It was just, point the finger, pass the buck.
With AppDynamics, we're able to say, "No, it is the network. Something's going on in this city.”, or “No, it is the middle-tier servers because of this." We can tell where the issue is and what the issue is.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I do know that they tested with CA. There was a third one because with our customer, we have to have three competitors. We have to have three products and say, "This is why we're picking AppDynamics. This is why these two will not fit the bill." I don't remember who the third person was.
I think they ended up going with AppDynamics because of the personality of the marketing reps and the engineers that we talked to. It was pricing. It was the capabilities of AppDynamics versus CA and the third company. AppDynamics just brought more to the table.
Personality is quite big when selecting a vendor like AppDynamics. If you come in, and you're snotty, and high and mighty, you go down the list. That's just what it is; that's business.
Pricing: We don't want the cheapest; we don't want the most expensive; we want somewhere in the middle, like when you're buying a TV; you don't want something that's going to break in six months.
The historic background of the company: If you've only been around for six months, it's a bit of a gamble. If you've been around for six years, you're not going to have IBM, HPE, or Xerox buy you. We've had problems with that before. You are your company; you're not going anywhere. In five years, you'll still be there to support us.
Ongoing support: Can we give you a call on a Tuesday at 3:00 PM and get an answer? Or, do we have to submit a ticket, wait a week, maybe get a phone call back and then get a guy who doesn't really know what he's talking about, doesn't want to be at work that day?
It's the overall package.
What other advice do I have?
Give them a call. Check out the field. I know that AppDynamics was more than willing to give us temporary licenses; come in and help us set it up in a dev environment; and show us how it works in our environment, not just the canned demo: “Here's the little website we made and this is how it works.” Of course, it works perfectly because we've made it work perfectly.
They will do a demo in your environment, on your servers, so you can see, “Yes, this is our data. This is what we will see. This is how it will help us.”
The only reason I did not give it a perfect rating is because I don't think anything is 100% perfect. Nothing is the best ever. There's always room for improvement. There's always room to grow. This is the highest I can give because I don't believe in giving that perfect rating.
We’re not yet using any other AppDynamics products. Due to our customer, we can't just buy the newest and greatest, and implement it. There is a long process for testing, approval, and funding; and then more testing and implementation. We're usually about a year and a half behind the latest and greatest.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Jan 04 2017