Dynatrace Review

Mitigates issues before they are in production, and if in production, reduces the time to find and resolve them

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is application monitoring. We are using APM to test for performance, bugs, and hoping to resolve the issues faster, and hoping to catch them before we go to production.

It's been great, it has helped us a lot. It can do more, but it's definitely helped us a lot and I'm a big believer in Dynatrace products.

How has it helped my organization?

First of all it's mitigating issues before they are in production, and if they do go into production, it's reducing the time to find the issue and actually resolve it. I believe, in the organization that we're in right now, that is challenged for resources and time, a product like Dynatrace helps immensely.

What is most valuable?

The PurePaths, because that's where somebody who is a non-developer can figure out where the problem is and send appropriate PurePaths, clean charts, or even the link to the developer. The developer can then look at it and figure out exactly where the problem is, this is the piece of code that took the longest time, and then resolve it.

What needs improvement?

Right now, since I'm primarily an AppMon user, so maybe the Dynatrace product addresses this: The challenge with AppMon is, what if you don't have an AppMon agent on a host, but it talks to the database. It talks to it, but I don't have either a host agent or an AppMon agent on it. That has been a challenge, but I believe the Dynatrace agent, the OneAgent, will solve that, potentially. You ask me three months from now, after we take a crack at the Dynatrace product, maybe my answer will be different, but I'm hoping that addresses some of the issues.

The configuration of the alerts, that's been a challenge in AppMon for me, right now. Some of the alerts are too noisy, but that might be my lack of some configuration. Again, it's just me primarily handling it, so that could be an issue. Somebody asked a question in one of the sessions, here at the Perform 2018 conference, about noise and how many alerts to your problem count, and the person doing the session answered right away saying, "I checked my dashboard before I came to this session and I had one alert on it." So I'm guessing that will resolve itself.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think I like the direction it's going in, the only challenging part for me is to keep up with the name changes. But other than that, as far as stability, I think I'm happy with it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I think for the deployments we have right now, it has not been a challenge. My goal is to increase the usage throughout the organization, maybe that's where I'll face some challenges, but at this point there are no challenges.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have used technical support in the past and they are pretty quick to respond. The other thing is, the APM community is available, Andy answers pretty much any question I post pretty quickly, so I think that group community help is really good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have use siloed monitoring tools in the past. When I started at Nemours 17 years ago, I had custom scripts that I would use to apply to various servers. They were on the host level, but the deployment was challenging. How to tie in a CPU alert to application slowness is challenging, because you had to go to the timestamp, look at the log and say, "Okay, this might be the issue." Dynatrace tells you how it is, and I think that's the most important feature.

How was the initial setup?

I'm the primary Dynatrace admin, if you want to call me that, and it was pretty easy. But keep in mind, my skill sets are probably unique in the sense that I understand applications well, so I know how to insert the agent - because we use AppMon - how we insert agent into JVM.

But I believe the new Dynatrace product is probably the way to go, because you don't need to actually talk to the application folks, you just deploy it on the host and you're done. I believe it's definitely going in the right direction. It is complex, it wasn't for me, but I can imagine it being complex for some people.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I don't know if there were any other vendors on my list because we've been users for about 15 years. We started out with a Vantage product that moved to server monitoring, and then we had the Gomez platform, and then you also had Dynatrace, but then they all came under the same umbrella. So we never really evaluated any other vendor. We had some of the free tools we used to use, like  Profiler, but from what I've heard from developers, nothing ever came close to this so I'm a fan.

What other advice do I have?

If we had just one solution that could provide real answers, as opposed to just data, we could spend less time on troubleshooting and trying to figure out what the problem is, and actually do our jobs, which is to design, build, and develop software.

The criteria we look for when adopting an APM solution are ease of use, and does it truly get you down to the problem area - and I believe that Dynatrace does - and the third one, it's true for everyone, is the cost.

I would rate it a nine out of 10. I'm not giving it a 10 yet because I would like to see the Dynatrace product in action and truly want to understand it. If we move to Dynatrace, away from AppMon, are we missing out on something?

My advice would be go with Dynatrace.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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