AppFirst - using big data tools for performance management

Making sense of operational data can be difficult. AppFirst thinks it has the solution - bring together big data techniques, sophisticated data collection technology and a management dashboard designed for DevOps. Good idea, but haven't we seen this before?

AppFirst reached out to introduce their new cloud-based dashboard for DevOps that is based upon sophisticated data collection technology that probes deeply into system, hypervisor, operating system, application and database engine operational data; big data analysis techniques; and easy-to-understand graphical display. Let's look into what the company is offering.

Data collection

AppFirst has developed a very small tool that reaches directly into the operating system and quickly and efficiently gathers real time operational data. This data includes very granular detail describing what the system, the operating system, application frameworks, applications, database engines, networking and storage systems are doing moment by moment.

AppFirst's technology reaches into operational data for physical, virtual and cloud-based systems. It also aggregates and correlates all of an organization’s data sources, from logs and StatsD to Nagios plug-ins and millions of process metrics.

AppFirst's technology quickly forwards this huge stream of data to its cloud-based data collection system for analysis and display.

Big Data analysis techniques

The stream of millions of detailed operational metrics are directed towards a single repository in real time.

AppFirst claims that it can detect application stacks and configure data collection from relevant sources to deliver a customized dashboard that is suited specifically to the environment it finds.

Graphical dashboard

The dashboard automatically displays data for systems, applications and data sources in a format that the company claims is easy for IT administrators and developers to understand and use.

Furthermore, this display is customizable and can be made to focus in on whatever is of interest to the administrator or developer.

Snapshot Analysis

The company claims that it can monitor everything going on in the data center. Being somewhat skeptical, I asked how AppFirst's technology dealt with typical data center inhabitants, such as mainframes, midrange systems running UNIX or a single-vendor operating system, networking equipment, storage equipment, power management equipment and the like.

AppFirst pointed out that if the systems they monitor ever communicate with those other devices, data is being collected on those conversations. The company also pointed out that data found in log files is included in the analysis as well.

Although I was impressed with the approach AppFirst is taking, I'm sure I've heard similar things from Splunk, Sumo Data, and several others. Could AppFirst have come up with a better, more efficient way to tackle this huge task? Possibly.

Those interested might like to download the free edition and learn how it works in their own IT environment.