VMware is announcing the End of Availability of all VMware vFabric Application Performance Manager (vFabric APM) versions, effective of 06/01/2013. As a result, all versions of vFabric Application Performance Manager will be removed from the VMware price list on 06/01/2013. After this date you will no longer be able to purchase these products.
The vFabric APM Story
VMware got into the APM business by acquiring B-hive an Israeli based APM company back in 2008. This resulted in VMware’s first generation APM product, AppSpeed. AppSpeed was a virtual appliance that accessed all of the network traffic on a host via a virtual mirror port on the VMware Virtual Switch in the host. It included the ability to decode the HTTP and popular database protocols and was therefore able to provide good insight into application performance for these kinds of applications. But most of the applications that VMware ran into were in fact custom developed, and the developers who supported those applications wanted insight into how their code was operating in production – features offered by emerging APM vendors like New Relic and AppDynamics.
The need to address the operation of custom code in production lead to the development of a Java agent in 2012, and AppSpeed was relaunched with this new agent as vFabric APM in 2012. However, the world of application development was undergoing rapid change at the time with new languages being added at an astonishing pace. By the time VMware delivered its Java agent, New Relic already had support for Java, .NET, Ruby, Python, and PHP. AppDynamics currently has support for Java, .NET, and PHP.
Earlier this year, VMware spun its application platform assets our into Pivotal. These assets included vFabric tc Server, CloudFoundry, and GemFire. They did not include vFabric APM which was VMware’s entry in the business of running Java applications (the language supported by tc Server, and one of the languages supported by CloudFoundry). Therefore VMware was left with APM solution, but no platform for the applications that this APM solution was going to manage. Killing vFabric APM was therefore a logical part of the process of rationalizing the VMware product line that has been going on since the arrival of the new CEO, Pat Gelsinger.
The complete VMware vFabric EOL Announcement is here.
APM and VMware’s SDDC Strategy
We are of the opinion that APM is an essential layer of the management stack for the Software Defined Data Center. You can see our Reference Architecture and the role that APM plays in it in the post, “SDDC Application Performance Management“. If we are right and it will be essential to instrument every application that you run in your SDDC for response time so as to avoid spending endless hours in blamestorming meeting, where does VMware stand on this issue?
Apparently right now the stance is pretty simple. The most important goal is to get the SDDC built and to bring it to market along with the management pieces required to address the Operations Management functions of the SDDC. Here VMware has an extremely strong offering with vCenter Operations Manager which is discussed in our post, “SDDC Operations Management“. So VMware apparently intends to compete strongly at the Operations Management layer, but leave the question of managing applications in the SDDC to partner solutions.
Choosing a Virtualization and Software Defined Data Center APM Solution
Given that VMware has chosen not to be in this business, VMware customers should now look to third party APM solutions to manage the business critical applications running on their virtualization environments an in their future Software Defined Data Centers. Organizations should use the following process to select an APM tool:
- Define APM as a product that at the minimum measures the response time and throughput of the applications you care about. Something that measures resource utilization is not APM. Something that just uses WMI, SNMP, NetFlow, IPFix or other standard API’s to collect commodity data is not APM. Something that just does synthetic transactions is not APM.
- Determine how many applications you have that warrant instrumentation with an APM solution. The way to tell if an application warrants instrumentation is to figure out if you will get yelled at if it is slow or if it is not working. Any application worth yelling over is worth being monitored with APM solution.
- Determine the complexity of your applications. Web applications that run on Linux and Windows can be covered by every APM vendor. Once you get into HP UX, IBM AIX, Sun, IBM CICS, message brokers and enterprise service buses, things get hard. If you have applications running on “older” operating systems, complex middleware, and legacy transaction processing back ends find this out up front and qualify the APM solutions along this dimension up front.
- Determine how your important applications are split along the dimension of being custom developed or purchased. You should monitor custom developed applications with a DevOps compatible solution. You should monitor purchased applications with an AppOps compatible solution. Virtualization and SDDC oriented APM tools are covered in depth in our white paper, “Application Performance Management for Virtualized and Cloud based Environments“. If you have both custom developed and purchased applications you should expect to buy an APM tool for each set (meaning a total of two tools).
- Make sure that any APM product you buy works in highly dynamic, highly distributed (across your data center and whatever cloud you may use now and in the future), and rapidly changing environments. This requirement knocks all of the legacy APM products that have not been modernized for virtualization and the cloud out of the box.
- You should insist upon the right to try the APM product in production in your environment for free and seeing it actually work in your environment before you commit any money to the vendor. If the vendor does not use an “easy to try and easy to buy” method of selling their product then the vendor is not worth your time.
VMware has announced the End of Life for vFabric APM. This now opens up the entire data center virtualization market and the entire future Software Defined Data Center market to third party solutions designed for these new environments. This will be one more nail in the coffin of the legacy APM vendors who have not modernized their solutions, and will create a huge opportunity for the new vendors who have.