Thoughts on IBM’s recently announced Application Performance Management SaaS offering

IBM recently announced a SaaS offering for their Application Performance Management (APM) product.  By providing a SaaS offering along with an on-premise solution, customers have a lot of flexibility in their monitoring solutions.   In addition, the SaaS offering introduced some application domain coverage that many customers might find useful.  In this post, I’ll describe some of the key aspects that I think customers will find valuable.

IBM’s APM solution now offers three options.   While these solutions are all slightly different in terms of the infrastructure, they reuse many of the same components and offer a consistent look and feel.   In addition, they reuse the same monitoring agents which is key and I’ll talk more about that later.

  • There is a traditional enterprise scalable solution based on the IBM Tivoli Monitoring infrastructure.   This offers a highly robust monitoring solution with the key features that a centralized monitoring team is looking for.  It provides coverage for all key platforms including mainframe and distributed platforms from a single infrastructure, it covers dozens of hypervisors, applications, middleware, response time monitoring, transaction tracking, and more.  The solution is feature rich and tightly integrated with IBM’s IT Analytics products for doing Log Analytics/Event analytics and Search as well as multi-variant predictive analytics on performance metrics.
  • IBM offers a lightweight on-premise monitoring solution.   While the features/functions provided by the light weight architecture are not as robust as the IBM Tivoli Monitoring based solution, the time to value is incredibly fast.  The solution can be installed in 10 or 15 minutes without the use of product manuals.  The Agents are installed using native packaging such as RPM’s on Linux making time to value much faster.
  • Finally, IBM now offers a SaaS solution.  For customers or organizations within a customer that want an Application Performance Management solution, but don’t want to be responsible for maintaining the infrastructure, the SaaS offering is an ideal fit.   In addition to not having to manage the infrastructure, customers can benefit from the monthly subscription based pricing.   Included in the SaaS offering are some new monitoring capabilities for monitoring MongoDB, MySQL, and Ruby on Rails.  The SaaS offering has a free Demo where you can logon to a website and try out the software using applications that are running on IBM’s SoftLayer cloud.  In addition, a free 30 day trial is offered so that customers can try out the SaaS offering with minimal investment in time before deciding whether to purchase the product online or via their IBM sales rep.

Now, let’s talk about some of the key benefits of having 3 options for customers.  First, all three offerings have a consistent user interface that can be leveraged by an operations team, an infrastructure management team, lines of business, and application developers.  This is important because all of the organizations can look at the same metrics and use the same terminology when debugging a problem.  In addition, all three solutions leverage the same Agent-based and Agent-less monitoring capabilities so that the metrics viewed by the various teams are identical.   Having worked with hundreds of customers around the world, I can’t stress enough the importance of consistent data.   If the operations team is looking at “Heap Utilization”, but the subject matter experts are looking at a metric called “Heap Usage”, it can cause confusion and waste time in resolving a problem.  In addition, when looking at different tools, the metrics may be using a different scale.  For example, one tool may be using KBytes while another is using MBytes.   One tool may be using transactions/second while another may be using transactions/minute.    Some tools use a rolling average while others use a point in time snapshot of the metrics.   This can cause tremendous confusing between the various teams trying to identify, isolate, and resolve a problems with an application.  By using IBM’s tools, customers get the flexibility of 3 options, but the metric data is the same.

If you want to learn more about IBM’s Application Performance Management tools and the recently announced SaaS offering, visit the IBM ServiceEngage website at:  http://ibmserviceengage.com.  You will find a few products listed including the Application Performance Management solution.

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