How has it helped my organization?
It helps us find the root cause quicker, so it's helped us with MTTI and MTTR. In fact, just last week, we had an issue. They used our other tools to try to find the solution, and they said, “This is the root cause.” Then, we were analyzing it in AppDynamics, and we said, “You know what? We're seeing something different.” They doubled back and realized that what AppDynamics had shown was actually the root cause, not what they were initially thinking was the root cause.
What is most valuable?
AppDynamics is very easy to use, and easy to deploy in our environment, especially because we're a central organization that helps other application teams with their APM solution. For me, that flow map makes all the difference for the customers. You show them the flow map. You tell them, “OK, green is good, yellow is a problem, and red is warning. Where do you see your problem?” They're like, “Right there.” That makes life a lot easier, compared to all the other tools that I've used in the past.
That visual representation’s been really good, also the overhead that AppDynamics creates is quite small. We've tried Dynatrace in the past. Some of the applications didn't work as well with Dynatrace. Those are two of the things that makes AppDynamics different.
What needs improvement?
Get me Blitz; basically, their next generation architecture, which they're actually running in their SaaS environment. Instead of having just one, big controller with a gigantic database behind it, they're moving towards a more distributed storage, which would be horizontally scalable. We've been looking for it for almost a year now.
I would be willing to pilot it in my non-prod environment, just to see how it works, because ultimately that's going to give us the same visibility that we're getting right now, but we can just keep scaling; just keep pumping more and more applications. As the controller gets bogged down, we just add more hardware. That's going to be key for us.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We've had some growing pains with AppDynamics but overall, the products been very stable. Their support’s awesome, so whenever we have issues, we open a support ticket. They jump on and they come up with a solution to help us. Even with the few minor hiccups that we've had, I would say overall, it’s very stable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability is excellent. In the last year, we've gone from a few hundred metrics to close to 10,000 metrics per minute injestion.
How are customer service and technical support?
I haven't seen any other vendor even come close to AppDynamics’ support. I've been raving about them. I have told the guy that runs their support organization, how great he's doing the job.
The thing that sets them apart is, if I have an issue, I open a ticket with them. Within 2-4 hours, I have the solution. I don't get an email saying, "We're looking into it.", and then not hear from them for two days or for a week, which I've had with other APM providers.
With AppDynamics, they're on it. If they can't find a solution, they're going to get on a GoToMeeting to duplicate the problem. They'll get their engineers involved. We've had multiple times when they got the developers involved on the GoToMeeting because the support guy couldn't get beyond that. He just got the developer for that product involved to come up with a solution.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
It’s a funny story. The PoV was done before I joined the company. I was a Dynatrace user, Intrascope, New Relic. I've done pretty much all the major APM providers in my career. At my previous job, I was using Dynatrace and my entire interview was, “Why are you guys using AppDynamics instead of Dynatrace?” I'd done a PoC of AppDynamics about five years ago. At that time, the product was in its infancy and it didn't really provide what we were looking for. There were a lot of issues; they were at version 2 or something like that at that time. When I joined the company, it had already been decided that AppDynamics was what we were going to use, so I didn't have a say in that.
Very quickly, my impression of the product changed. As I used it, I was like, "Whoa!" Between version whatever that I PoV'd with in the past compared to version 4, there was a night-and-day difference. Very quickly, I became a proponent of AppDynamics.
How was the initial setup?
Our setup was quite complex. Our leadership decided that we were going to use one controller for everything, and we've got thousands of applications. Now, they're reaching the point where they’re realizing that it's not feasible to have just one controller for our huge infrastructure.
The initial setup was fairly straightforward, until we started pushing some really heavy applications, and then we started seeing problems. We got involved with some of their tuning experts. They're basically getting every ounce of power out of the machine that they can. It's been an excellent journey.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Dynatrace was on the short list. My predecessor did a comparison between the two tools. One of the issues that we saw with Dynatrace was scalability. Dynatrace itself pushes so much information. It's capturing every single transaction, compared to AppDynamics, which captures a subset of the transactions. For Dynatrace, you just need massive hardware and you have to have multiple servers because you run out of space very quickly. That was one of the issues with Dynatrace.
The other issue was it didn't play nicely with some of our applications. We actually saw problems with one of our critical business applications that we were doing a PoV with. When we put AppDynamics on that same application, we didn't see any issues. Dynatrace was creating quite a large memory overhead; AppDynamics, under 1%.
When I'm looking for a vendor, before, the most important criteria used to be, what does the tool provide, but after working with AppDynamics, it's support. It doesn't matter how great the tool is; if the support isn't that good, you can't get the most out of the tool.
What other advice do I have?
Do a PoV of AppDynamics on a critical application. Get that initial win, and use that win to drive adoption throughout the organization.
I haven’t rated it higher because of the comparison between AppDynamics and Dynatrace. Dynatrace does give you more, richer information, but it's not scalable. There are certain things that I kind of miss with AppDynamics but it's not something that I'm going to cry about because of the other overall value that it provides, and the ease of use of it.
In addition to AppDynamics APM, we're also using RUM and Mobile UM.