INETCO - discussing why APM products get ignored

INETCO - discussing why APM products get ignored

Summary: INETCO announced a big win for their business transaction management technology. The win was impressive. The technology interesting and useful. Why didn't it get mentioned?

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TOPICS: Software
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I recently had a wonderful discussion of application performance management (APM) and business transaction management (BTM) with the good folks at INETCO. We discussed the broad concepts of APM and how an end-to-end focus on business transactions is a critical success factor. I was intending to comment on the technology behind the announcement here.

A bit about INETCO

INETCO is tightly focused on following business transactions from end to end and being able to accurately report on what is happening and where in real time. They also understand that today's workloads include components such as:

  • Mainframes
  • UNIX-based midrange systems
  • Single-vendor operating systems running on special-purpose hardware
  • Industry standard systems running Windows or Linux
  • A herd of single-function appliance servers
  • Workloads that are hosted on a combination of physical, virtual and cloud-based systems
  • Increasingly complex distributed, multi-tier workloads that mix and match just about everything listed above
  • A constellation of company-supplied, staff-supplied and customer-supplied end-points that include PCs, Macs, Tablets, "Phablets" and Smartphones  

The company believes there is value in being able to monitor the end-to-end performance of transactions rather than just offering tools that dive deeply into a huge pile of operational data.

Before I could comment

Before that commentary popped to the top of my research queue, the company's PR firm reached out to me to ask for my opinions on why a treatment of the announcement didn't appear in many analyst's publications. While I certainly can't speak for anyone other than Kusnetzky Group analysts, I do have some thoughts on the topic (surprise, surprise.) Here are a few of them.

  • Regardless of how good INETCO's technology or architecture are, there is much confusion in the market for performance management tools.
  • The announcement-per-second rate has gone up recently making it hard for any supplier to get a moment of decision maker's time and attention. Some really good technology is not getting the attention it desires.
  • Customers are deploying an ever more complex mix of multi-tier, distributed workloads that are based upon different system architectures, hosting strategies (physical, virtual and cloud), and are allowing access to their workloads from an ever-growing array of end point systems (PCs, Macs, Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones.) It is not at all clear to them how to address the "Tower of Babel" they've built inside of their data centers at the encouragement of their chosen suppliers.
  • There is a large and growing number of firms offering some sort of APM or similar products. I believe that I've spoken with representatives of over 20 suppliers in the past year.
    • All of them are speaking about their products and technology using the same or very similar language.
    • All of them appear to be promising the sun and the stars and some analysts (and customers) believe that in the end they are only going to deliver the moon.
    • Some are very large, traditional, suppliers of management tools and others are frisky startups, each of which says that it is uniquely qualified to make sense of this mess.
    • Few offer a comprehensive solution to what is increasingly becoming an intractable problem.
  • Terms such as "Cloud," "Big Data," and "Predictive Analytics" are bandied about as if they are leading edge capabilities that should define one offering from another. Unfortunately, everyone is using these terms and so it is hard to separate one supplier from another.
  • Often suppliers focus on only one part of the IT infrastructure and speak as if they are offering a comprehensive solution. One has to really dig into their messages to learn where the limits are. Customers don't have the time for this type of thing anymore and they can't make a mistake in selecting tools.
  • Each supplier is offering a different mix of technologies and it is not clear where each fits and why.
    • Building management into everything — each supplier, of course, wants their own tools and frameworks built in and don't always play well with those offered by others.
    • Install agents everywhere that gather operational data and forward it elsewhere for processing and analysis
    • Follow network traffic and tease out operational data for systems, databases, application frameworks, applications, networks and storage
  • Being able to audit and secure complex solutions is an ever-large factor in tool selection

What other factors do you think could be involved?

Topic: Software

About

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • Call it APM User Experience Monitoring... Stuff?

    In part, I believe, the confusion around APM is due to how the technology is communicated and the market forces around that communication.
    For example, customers want to manage something, so they call it AP "Management" whereas vendors are first and foremost providing monitoring tools and are conducting AP "Monitoring".
    The variety of APM technologies within the APM space themselves don't have "functional" names as technology categories as much as they have marketing labels. One example, the broad category of "user experience monitoring" (UEM) has both internal and passive "real user monitoring" (RUM) aspect and external active monitoring, utilizing synthetic agents located worldwide. Moreover, vendors offering these aspects of UEM use marketing language that is indistinguishable in the marketplace and also target many of the same Google keywords and technology budgets.
    User experience monitoring itself confuses itself with the entire discipline of UX design and on the face of it is non-nonsensical. In so far as monitoring is concerned a user's "experience" is by explicit definition of the word experience "subjective" therefore, at best, monitoring provides a user's "view" or "perspective". These are just a few examples of the language of APM gone bonkers and marketing departments slavishly imitating each other.
    Gartner has waded into the morass, but come out the other side with reports that stay at the 30,000-foot view. An analysis on "APM" is simply too broad of a term for most customer looking to piece together a variety of vendors. TRAC Research does a better job at looking at individual technologies within the APM space, but punted on addressing the convoluted language of the marketplace.
    Moreover, the incentive for the marketplace of APM vendors to act collectively to sort out the language of the space is low, but perhaps rising quickly. Vendors are competing mightily for Google keywords in the APM (much to Google's benefit $) with lower and lower returns as completely separate technologies compete for the exact same market message. The marketplace is reaching a fully mature stage and as such market strategies for success -for both niche and full providers - increasingly favor those who specialize their message. And finally, customers are confused. Customers are researching and buying from many different APM vendors to round out their needs and a lack of clarity about the value each vendor provides is a turn-off for customers (and analysts for whom the space is is not their primary area of expertise) and as such inhibits the market as a whole.
    Brad Canham