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Four AWS-friendly app performance management tools

Rethinking your APM strategy? We review four AWS-friendly application performance management tools ranging from healthcare software to monitoring.

Alan Nelson of August Systems knew it was time for a change when the application performance management (APM) software he was using sucked up enough bandwidth to crash every application. A move to the AWS cloud gave the home healthcare software company an opportunity to completely rethink their APM strategy. His lesson learned: you can't use an old school approach to performance monitoring anymore, especially in the cloud.

Luckily for Nelson, director of operations, and other developers and IT administrators like him, a number of companies are offering application performance management and monitoring, most as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) option, on the AWS cloud. These lightweight, nimble and responsive tools can look deeply in to the cloud to track everything from connectivity issues to end user behavior. And even better, most tie-in nicely with AWS CloudWatch, an AWS service for monitoring AWS resources and applications.

Available APM options include Idera's CopperEgg, Manage Engine's Site24x7, New Relic and Kaseya's Traverse. Each has a slightly different slice of the APM market.

Idera CopperEgg -- Empowering IT Ops

The challenge most companies face is getting an end-to-end view of all applications, since they reside on-premise or in the public cloud, said Josh Stephens VP of product strategy at Idera. The company has a history in the database APM market, and moved to the cloud with last year's acquisition of CopperEgg, a cloud native APM SaaS offering. Now Idera's customers can mix and match solutions depending on what they need to see, Stephens said.

CopperEgg was created to tie in seamlessly with CloudWatch as well as non-AWS metrics because Stephens believes his customers need the broadest possible view, "We pull data from CloudWatch within CopperEgg and then correlate it with data natively collected so you can have the whole perspective on how your application is performing." AWS is at the heart of it all, Stephens said, with monitoring of services such as EC2, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), ElastiCache, DynamoDB and EBS built right in.

What makes CopperEgg completely unique, however, is its focus on the established IT organization, Stephens said. "DevOps folks are constantly changing code on the fly. We're giving the IT Ops folks a single pane of glass to see everything they're working with whether it's SAP or Peoplesoft. We are empowering them right where they are by giving them the monitoring tools they need."

Manage Engine's Site 24x7 -- Monitoring for Less Cost

With a long-standing on-premises APM solution and now Site24x7 offered as a SaaS APM solution in the cloud, Manage Engine was highlighted in the Gartner Group APM Magic Quadrant 2014 for its breadth of offering and low cost. This "challenger" in the Magic Quadrant is particularly appealing to small and medium-sized businesses, Gartner said.

August Systems' Nelson couldn't agree more. "Site 24x7 is a lightweight offering that is easy to deploy and gives us visibility we wouldn't have just using the tools provided on AWS," he said. And that was the goal, said Zaheeruddin Ahmed B, marketing analyst at Manage Engine. "We wanted to offer deep visibility in to how applications perform," he said. "The user installs a lightweight agent and it collects key metrics including application response time, throughput scores and the database operations on to the server. Basically we take it from URL to execution to SQL." The product also offers built-in monitoring of EC2 instances and RDS on the AWS cloud.

Ahmed said the appeal of 24x7 is that it doesn't just cater to one audience or to just one type of user. With 50 different sites around the world, customers can see how their cloud applications on AWS are performing locally. The bottom line: "If your application is slowing down, you want to know the root cause and that's what we can help you see."

New Relic -- APM for 'New Age' Apps

A "leader" in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, New Relic and its SaaS APM (New Relic Standard, New Relic Pro) offerings are known for their ease of use and implementation, the Gartner report said. The reason for that is simple, said Abner Germanow, senior director of Enterprise Marketing at New Relic. "You want to focus your resources on developing software not maintaining hardware. If you build your app on AWS you want to focus on the app not the infrastructure and we complement that beautifully."

Although New Relic can be used by traditional IT organizations, Germanow said it is designed with agile development and DevOps teams in mind. "Every time you make a change in the code you want to know if it made it better or not, and if the mobile app users are using it differently than the web app users. Those metrics are beyond the classic APM model."

By focusing on the underlying infrastructure, New Relic lets AWS customers see exactly how the cloud resources are used by them and by their neighbors. The product ties in to CloudWatch so all the data can be seen in one place, from the end user through the server back to the lines of code. And a lot of development processes have been automated, taking advantage of the resources already in place on AWS. "At the end of the day what everyone wants to know is if it's the application or the infrastructure that's the problem," Germanow said. "We can answer that question for them."

Kaseya Traverse -- Monitoring the AWS Cloud

For enterprises with a private cloud and a presence on AWS, Kaseya Traverse offers the opportunity to monitor performance from a single place, said Vikas Aggarwal, Traverse senior product manager. The problem is management's need for uptime everywhere --whether it's the internal email system or the app in AWS -- and it becomes the IT department's headache to try and keep track of it all. "Traverse offers a holistic view of the public and private cloud," he said.

Leveraging the data from CloudWatch as well as the CloudStack API, Traverse can help IT departments predict changes in the environment or in bandwidth consumed. A discovery engine ties in to elastic scaling and "the broadest set of data is collected," Aggarwal said. Customers can then manage availability as well as actively monitor all activity from one central console that covers the entire enterprise.

About the author:
Valerie Rice Silverthorne is a writer and editor with nearly thirty years of experience covering business, trade, technology, real estate and lifestyle trends. She was an award-winning business writer for The San Jose Mercury News and was a Forbes Magazine top "30 under 30" journalist. She was the editor of ZDNet.com, PC Week/Inside, and a senior executive editor of PC Week and Electronic Business. She works as a freelance writer from her home in Amesbury, Mass. Contact her at valerierice@gmail.com.

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This was last published in December 2014

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