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​AppDynamics touts the agility of a startup with the pocket of a global giant

CEO David Wadhwani spoke with ZDNet about the state of application monitoring and how a year with a billion-dollar parent has allowed an aggressive focus on R&D.

AppDynamics was wholly acquired by Cisco in January last year, in a deal at the time labelled bold, but necessary. AppDynamics was on its way to becoming a public company before the $3.7 billion offer was made by Cisco, but according to CEO David Wadhwani, the decision to instead sell was the right one, and it's already bearing fruit.

"The Cisco relationship has been productive on a number of levels; if you look at AppDynamics before the acquisition, we were on the road to being a public company -- very, very close to becoming a public company -- and at the time we were one of the fastest-growing enterprise software companies in the market," Wadhwani told ZDNet.

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"With the Cisco acquisition, their ability to open doors that we would have taken a long time to get into has been phenomenal.

"Our ability to close a customer when Cisco is involved is up to 50 percent faster."

Speaking with ZDNet while in Sydney visiting customers, Wadhwani explained having Cisco as its parent also gives AppDynamics access to more executives, and as a result, more insight into what CIOs, CTOs, and CDOs are dealing with on their "transformational journey".

"We have historically played at the application, user, and business tier; Cisco has played at the infrastructure and network tier -- the server and network tier," he explained. "Now we're able to have a full stack conversation with customers and make sure that everything they're doing at the infrastructure level, everything they're doing at the application level is in service to the user needs and service to the business outcomes they're looking to drive.

"So that connective tissue up and down the stack has been I think the biggest change in terms of the conversation we're having."

Wadhwani joined AppDynamics in September 2015, taking over the reins from founder Jyoti Bansal. The new CEO brought with him 14 years driving Adobe's digital transformation, which he said has helped him be familiar on a personal level with what executives are experiencing.

Funded by the company that pulled in revenue of $12.1 billion in 2017, AppDynamics has also accelerated its research and development (R&D) under the ownership of Cisco.

"We've accelerated our release cadence and what we've seen with Cisco too is that we've been able to increase our investment in R&D," he said. "When you look at year over year we're roughly 80 percent more invested in R&D than we were a year ago today."

Primarily, it's the company's Bangalore and San Francisco operations that are focusing on R&D.

"We were a growth company, which meant we were increasing every aspect of our business in terms of how we operated, but this is definitely an upsized increase and a very, very welcome one," Wadhwani continued.

To Wadhwani, an increased R&D kitty is important for the space AppDynamics plays in, with new models for application development released in quick succession.

"All of that is still sitting on, or interacting with, environments that are 30-40 years old -- so we have to support monitoring everything from mainframe environments that have been around for decades to the latest innovation in public clouds," he explained. "And that's really where the investment is going, to make sure we have the broadest coverage."

According to the CEO, when it comes to application monitoring, organisations are no longer just focused on how many outages were experienced; rather they're keen for insight into the mean time to awareness or the mean time to resolution of those outages.

"They want to know how many customers were impacted, what have we done to win back their trust, and how are we doing it?," Wadhwani said. "If we're making improvements, how is my business starting to benefit? The conversation has to shift from technology to user experience.

"The world truly is flat and everyone's looking at the same issues."

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