Dynatrace Review

Helps provide stable customer-facing applications; we use it continuously to monitor our performance

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case for the solution is our application performance and the stability of our application. It really helps provide stable customer-facing applications and we use it continuously monitor our performance.

It is really working well for us and we are negotiating an extended contract right now for the next three years.

How has it helped my organization?

Once we started adopting this tool, it become an integral part of our business goals. As an industrial manufacturing company, the big investment and the interest area for us is to have our presence in the e-commerce platform, with stable and performing applications. This is a very critical business goal. 

A monitoring solution like Dynatrace is becoming a very integral part of that particular solution chain. Be it the CDN platform, or commerce platform, application performance monitoring is becoming a very critical piece.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of the solution is the visibility. It creates visibility - from when the user starts interacting with our application - all the way back to our database calls, our network path, everything. 

The triaging is amazing. And at the same time, it provides depth, all the way to what kind of a method, what variables are inside those methods. Without getting too into the technical, the depth it gets to, pinpointing the problematic area - where exactly the problem is happening - is amazing. That's the best you can get from this tool.

What needs improvement?

From the Dynatrace SaaS platform, they talk about the APIs. The approach they take is, "We create the APIs, you use them however you want." I like it, that gives us flexibility. But at the same time, if your company does not have a huge number of APM specialists, or it does not have the time and resources available to spend on these kind of technology developments, it would be helpful if there were out-of-the-box solutions available from the platform. I would certainly consider that, because that would make us go to market much faster, rather than redeveloping our own solutions based on those APIs. 

So I would like to see more out-of-the-box solutions developed on those APIs.

And then, we would still have the flexibility to use the APIs if we needed to extend.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

What we have right now, is fairly stable because it's not like we're getting an update every year, or every two weeks. When we evaluated the SaaS/Managed services, that's a big question we asked, because if your run-data is going to update you every two weeks, it means worrying about my performance monitoring solution now, rather than worrying about my application. That was a real concern we had. 

The first question we asked is, "Is there an option for us to turn it off? Can decide when we want to update our solutions?" That's an insurance policy for me. If it does not work out for us, we would always have an option. That's a real concern for us, even now. But since we have that insurance, we have an option to turn it off, if we don't want to have it updated every two weeks, I think we are ready to take that risk now.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It does scale really well. We started with monitoring a very limited number of applications, and then we started expanding our scope, and we have kept on adding more and more applications under this portfolio.

How are customer service and technical support?

We actively use the Expert Services from the vendor. They are certainly very knowledgeable on the solution. The challenge is how do we map our business requirements and business challenges with the solution. Obviously, they do not understand our business challenges, so if we are able to provide the proper feedback to them about our business challenges, they can really map the solution to our problems.

They have solved our problems most of the time, as quickly as possible. Some of the time they solved the problem, but it took some time to solve it. That's the reason I give the solution an eight out of 10. The Expert Services is really helpful for us.

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

We were referred by one of our vendors. It was more like an architectural review service that we had engaged. When they came out and reviewed our architecture, they made a lot of recommendations on the architectural changes, and the way we need to adapt our commerce platform. 

One of the major recommendations we got from them is, "You really need to start investing in your APM strategy, because that's going to benefit you in the long run." And then we started investing in a very limited amount, to see the return on investment. We saw the value, and then we started increasing every investment on this area.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the initial proof of concept, and setting up of the solution. The solution is very straightforward. Setting it up, and then getting it implemented, and then adoption are really complex.

We had our own shortcomings on the technology side. At the same time, I also felt like even Dynatrace has to mature in its offering. They are in the industry as an APM leader, so they should be able to come and say, "Hey, if you are in this vertical, these are the industry best practices. If you follow this, this would be the right path." 

I think that's something Dynatrace has to evolve. Rather than just concentrating on the solution side, they should focus more on the business side. For example, they should say, "For your retail, this is how your application performance monitoring happens. If you're in the manufacturing industrial segment, this is how the application performance monitoring happens, these are the key metrics you should look for."

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We went automatically with the referral to Dynatrace. We already had enterprise APM solutions available, so they started competing with the Dynatrace. From time to time, we still evaluate other vendors, but we are still sticking with Dynatrace for two reasons. 

First, they have always been ahead of the market. When we started thinking, "Okay, we want to do a DevOps strategy, and continuous deployment, continuous integration. Dynatrace has an offering which will fit into those particular requirements." 

And the second one is, they have already spent three years with us, so they know our business, they know our business strategies, and our business goals. I've not really had appetite to go back and start investing my time and energy with a new vendor to bring them on board and then teach then everything that I have already taught to the Dynatrace guys.

What other advice do I have?

Regarding the role of AI when it comes to IT's ability to scale into the cloud, and monitor performance management issues, the way I look at AI is this. When we started this journey three years back, it was more like problem-solving. We have a problem, and we need to identify the root causes and how do we solve it? That's what it was three years back. 

In three years, a lot of things have changed. Now it's all about, how do you proactively monitor it, and how do you solve it, and then the self-healing techniques and the like. So even without a developer looking into it, how do you solve the problem? That's the big thing I'm seeing from our organization's point of view on AI. The second point is, we are also starting our DevOps initiatives, and then the continuous integration platforms, and continuous delivery platforms. The AI platform, and the new Dynatrace, is becoming a critical value in that as well.

In terms of siloed monitoring tools, our team has not used them, but our enterprise had other application monitoring tools. The challenge with those are that some of them are really concentrating on your networking site, some of them are concentrating on your specific application-oriented issues. You are not able to get one big picture, or a single pane of visibility into every application or every service that's involved in that application. That's where I think this particular solution helped us a lot.

If there is one solution, it reduces the complexity. If you bring one solution, there would be some learning curve to adopting the solution, but in the long run it's going to really help to reduce the complexity. From my team's point of view, they would be able to go much deeper, picture a "T" shape, rather than a horizontal. Otherwise, you would need to learn one tool for this particular technology, or for this application, and another tool to support another application. So if there is one tool, they could go all the way, and there would be a lot of productivity improvement because of that.

As far as selecting a vendor goes, what's important to us are two things. First, are they stable enough. Is the company stable enough to do business with them, because we are a 100-year-old company, so we value the continuity of the business. Second, how visionary are they in their market, in that industry? We don't take too much risk on any evolving technology. We wait until the technology evolves and matures. That's a very critical thing. 

We always look for how strong they are in that industry, how long they are in this industry, what their track record is, and what their future looks like.

My advice is, involve all the stakeholders from day one. Bringing everyone on board from day one, and get everybody onto the same page, what they want from the solution. That is very critical. It takes some time to get it to a maturity level, and then adoption. That means you start adopting it, and then six months down the line, if your business or a different team comes back and says, "This is good, but it's not really making any sense to me," then the whole six months, whatever you invested, has really gone to waste. Or you need to redo things one more time for them.

So I would say, identify all the stakeholders who will be consuming this solution, and then start engaging with them on day one. Even if they are not going to be part of the solution, or consuming these services, from day one, identify all of them and keep them engaged from day one. That will be very critical. We made that mistake and we learned from that.

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