The Virtualization Practice

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If you are going to try to virtualize performance critical applications in 2012, you should arm yourself with a tool that can measure how those applications perform in the eyes of their end users – which is their end-to-end response time. The approach you take should be a function of the mix of applications you have to support – including whether they are purchased or custom developed and if custom developed with what language or framework.

VMware is going to make progress on its automated service assurance vision this year, with initial steps coming in the Q1/2012 version of vCenter Operations and the initial release of vFabric APM. On the third party vendor front, progress is most likely to come by partnerships between vendors who have interesting pieces of the puzzle, but do not have the entire puzzle themselves. On this front the most interesting vendors are Netuitive, Prelert, Blue Stripe, ExtrHop Networks, and VMTurbo. The wild card in this equation is how service assurance will fit with cloud management and offerings from vendors like DynamicOps, Abiquo, Platform Computing and Gale Technologies.

While the legacy enterprise management vendors might like to think of themselves as the Borg (prepare to be assimilated – there is no escape), the new technical requirements and the new buying patterns in the virtualization market do not lend themselves to a repeat of history. Legacy management vendors are unlikely to be able to acquire themselves into this market because their core platforms and business models do not work with the customers who are running virtualized environments and buying management solutions. So to my good friend Andi Mann, I respectfully disagree.

The need to virtualize every application, along with the need to support constantly arriving new and newly changed applications will drive the creation of an Application Operations function in the enterprise. This function will need to be supported and enabled by a new generation of APM tools that meet the new requirements of the Application Operations team.

As business critical applications move into production virtualized environments, the need arises to ensure their performance from a response time perspective. Legacy Applications Performance Management tools are not well suited to make the jump from static physical systems, to dynamic virtual and cloud based systems. For these reasons enterprises need to consider new tools from vendors that have virtualization aware and cloud aware features in their APM solutions. Vendors like AppDynamics, BlueStripe, Confio, dynatrace, ExtraHop, New Relic, Quest, VMTurbo and VMware (vFabric AppInsight) are currently leading this race to redefine the market for APM solutions.

Looking at the Entire VMware Operations and Application Management Strategy

VMware is clearly serious about extending its management reach into the application layer of the stack. New products like vFabric AppDirector, and vFabric APM make this into more than intention – they make VMware’s participation in these markets a reality as well. The move to remake the APM industry has thus far been lead by creative startups like New Relic, AppDynamics, BlueStripe, dynaTrace and ExtraHop. Now VMware has joined this effort will add considerable mass and velocity to the effort. The message is clear – it is time to instrument all of your applications for response time and the legacy APM vendors do not have the products that are up to the task.

With vFabric APM VMware has announced a compelling entry into the APM space, joining the current set of APM innovators – New Relic, AppDynamics, BlueStripe, dynaTrace and ExtraHop. The innovations that VMware is bringing to the table will usher in a redefinition of what APM is, from a performance and availability tool for the development team, to a strategic applications management platform that enables price/performance comparison shopping by application owners. Once the price/performance features are fully implemented, this may do more to enable performance sensitive applications to move to public clouds than any other thing that VMware has done.

Less than 5% of the applications that matter to enterprises world wide are under management by an APM solution that can help ensure application response time, application availability and the integrity of the critical transactions within the application. This is because first generation APM solutions have been too expensive to purchase, too limited in their scope and too expensive to configure, maintain and own.

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