The computer applications environment has undergone major changes in recent years with the move to server virtualization, cloud computing, mobility and agile development. But has application performance monitoring kept pace with the changes?
“Enterprise IT is really at an inflection point, transitioning from a very static environment to a dynamic environment,” said ExtraHop Networks (News - Alert) founder and CEO Jesse Rothstein, during a conversation at the Interop (News - Alert) 2012 show last month. “If you are rolling out a new version of the application every week, the traditional approaches to visibility into that application are no longer tenable.”
Traditional application performance monitoring (APM (News - Alert)) basically relies on information scraped from server event logs, Rothstein noted, which is inadequate for increasingly dynamic environments. APM must analyze more than just each component in a system — front-end, middleware, database server and network storage. It must monitor the relationship among the various layers on the network.
This requires analyzing the network protocol in real-time and extracting relevant health and performance metrics, he said.
“Sometimes you see application launch times go from two seconds to 20 seconds,” Rothstein said. “You need to be able to detect when that occurs, and then you need to be able to look at the other tiers and what’s causing that.”
But virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has historically been a black box when it comes to APM.
ExtraHop Networks and others are working to change that. During Interop, ExtraHop Networks announced its new Citrix APM solution. The analysis module does full real-time analysis of Citrix’s proprietary ICA protocol for Xen App and Xen Desktop. This brings agentless, network-based application performance management to the Xen VDI for the first time, according to ExtraHop.
“We provide previously unseen visibility into slow log-in times, application launches, number of sessions,” Rothstein said. “We can crack open the virtual channels so we can see, for example, if one user is using all the bandwidth watching YouTube (News - Alert) videos. We’ll see that traffic on the virtual channel and we will be able to pinpoint the user who is doing that.”
He elaborated: “We built it from the ground-up for modern, dynamic environments, so we start by auto-discovering all the devices and applications and classifying them by role — what’s the web server, what’s the app server, what’s the database server, how are they all talking to one another? Then we look at the network that glues that all together. We can correlate that network performance to application performance, which is very important.”
Rothstein reported that interest is strong among industries that make a lot of use of desktop virtualization and application virtualization.
“Vendors have really over-promised and under delivered for years, even decades,” he said. “Literally a hodgepodge of tools and technologies have been thrown at these problems.”
Network-based application performance monitoring is one step toward fixing the problem.
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