IBM Application Performance Management Review

Agent can be unreliable, but is able to display detailed process information at the OS level

What is our primary use case?

We use IBM Application Performance Management for modifying .NET and Tomcat applications, as well as regular system updates and monitoring. Currently, we have around 10 people who use it, with two people in operations support who work with it on a daily basis. The rest of the team are busy with the various projects which we deliver to customers.

What is most valuable?

Because we have partnerships with other partners, I can share a bit about what I've noticed with IBM APM compared to other vendor solutions. Specifically, with IBM, the visibility into detailed process information is more tangible. On the OS level, APM displays all processes (or the top 10 processes) that are consuming CPU or resident memory. This is the most important thing that is not always available with other vendors.

What needs improvement?

With APM, we noticed that the agent can cause a lot of issues for the application, making the agent very unreliable. Many issues are happening, and we've had to discuss it with support to try and get a fix. It affects application availability, and sometimes actions fail because of the agent, degrading the performance of the application.

There are also cases where IBM support takes a considerable amount of time when it comes to resolving availability issues or enhancing agent resource consumption to reduce performance issues. This is a big concern, because the agent has a direct impact on the application and support takes maybe four or more months to resolve issues.

Another major point that needs to be addressed in the recent version of APM is that it does not provide historical data. If a customer requires historical data, we have to install an older IBM product called ITN to be able to have historical reports.

As something that would be nice to see, some other vendors like Dynatrace and AppDynamics provide a map highlighting each area with coloring that reflects the performance in each area. This feature is not available in IBM APM.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using IBM Application Performance Management for two years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

APM is generally stable, but there are frequently issues with the agent itself. On customer applications, this can cause some availability and performance issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is a scalable product.

How are customer service and technical support?

The most common issues we have faced so far have had to do with the APM agent. We have contacted support for these issues, but it can take a while before they are able to help us because they first need to know where the conflicts are happening between the agent and the customer application. Once they have troubleshooted this area, they then have to develop and apply the fix, and all this can take quite some time.

In general, if it's an issue that is known to support, then they are able to resolve it quickly, but if it is a new issue, then it will take longer. 

How was the initial setup?

For a single-instance installation, it is simple. But for failover installations, a lot of scripts need to be configured on the primary and secondary servers, so failover configuration is a bit complicated.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented IBM APM ourselves, but we have had several issues with the agent and we had to engage IBM professional support to troubleshoot what the issues are exactly. In the end, we got stuck because we needed to wait for an actual fix to be provided by the developers.

Regarding maintenance, most customers now have a lot of security tools, monitors, servers, and applications running, so we need to keep up to date with new security breaches in different environments and apply fixes regularly.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

IBM APM is one of the cheaper products on the market, while everything necessary to get started is included in the license.

What other advice do I have?

If you are going to use IBM APM, it's better to avoid applying transaction-checking and diagnostics because these are the main components that cause issues on the application level. These issues can affect both availability and performance. So if you are interested in transaction-checking and diagnostics, it's better to search for another vendor.

I would rate IBM Application Performance Management a five out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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