As a support engineer, the most valuable component was Customer Experience Manager (CEM). Being able to detect end user defects based HTTP response code and slow time, while differentiating between geographical locations or individual users was the biggest advantage to proactively managing root-cause analysis. And once integrated with the APM agents on those same applications, transaction tracing from end user to middleware/backend systems really did give that end-to-end view that organisations always get pitched when there is an open tender on any APM solution. From a Consulting aspect, this would have to be the new ABA (Application Behaviour Analytics) engine that is now available. It makes my job both easier and more efficient as well as clients. Being able to easily identify the end user transactions to low level internal java methods in the same screen automatically with bare minimal configuration is impressive.
Improvements to My Organization
Back in the support days, we were able to provide Business Service availability and performance statistics rather than just the number of P1 / P2 Incidents rose within the service desk each month. With the change of mentality to a Service Offering approach through CA APM, we first used the SLA numbers for each day to then determine which incidents where of most criticality to the business and technical support team. This meant that support resources where used more efficiently to resolve bottlenecks in load and performance during peak periods of the day.
Room for Improvement
The one thing that needs improving is the uplift of dashboards capabilities to HTML5 and flash based widgets. Some new vendors coming into the market have dashboarding capabilities that are flashier and shiny which can sometimes be a deterrent to CA APM’s proven track record to diagnostic triage.
Use of Solution
I initially spent 2 years as a Web Application Support Analyst focused solely on using and administering the toolset for a large Victorian government department. Over the last 3 years, I have been working for a Professional Services Company implementing the CA APM solution for a number of different large companies.
Deployment of CA APM infrastructure and agents is quite easy and pain free. Issues do start to arise when you have a large enterprise environment comprising of multiple Pre-production environments and Production. The administration and configuration tasks involved to changing the configuration on agents and uplifting versions can be a long process without the use of a centralized management console for agent configuration purposes.
One of the biggest strengths with CA APM is that it is incredibly stable. In the 5 years I have used the toolset, I raised 2 support tickets about stability of which were resolved by configuration changes to suit the environment it was hosted in. The main deterrent of stability is whether it is designed to scale.
Scalability will only become a problem if your initial scope of deployment doesn't allow for the adopting of the solution in the wider business. Most solutions like CA APM are implemented in large commercial organisations that stem from siloed projects, which have an initial role of configuring, installing and providing a business benefits realization. Once this occurs and when done well, the solution needs to be able to grow and grow fast. The standalone or clustered architecture that CA APM adopts allows you to upscale and downscale your solution with minimal impact to the business, allowing for a solution that will fit all organisations deployment plans.
Customer Service and Technical Support
My experience with CA Customer Service, from Sales and Pre-Sales teams, has been of the highest standard. The team always frequently drops by to just say high and follow up any enquirers. Technical Support
While working at different organisations I have overheard people talking about the lack of urgency and turnaround time when it comes to support. The CA Support team are very good at ensuring you know the progress of any given issues with constant updates.
At the end of the day, you should be selecting an APM tool that best suits your organisations requirements when it comes to Performance and Availability Management. I would recommend CA APM because I have used it both for Support and as a Consultant and seen that when done well, you can get instant quick wins straight out of the box.