Bernd Harzog’s post Why is Application Performance Management so Screwed Up? started a lot of discussions on the Internet. The post is a very good list of existing issues you may face when you try to use APM tools. I’d add one more – overheads. At least for the first generation, the claim that you may use APM in production worked only if you did very selective monitoring.
My view of APM is that first generation of APM tools so well described by Bernd was very immature. Not that something was explicitly wrong with the APM in general – really wrong was the drastic contrast between what the tools actually could do and marketing promises of tool vendors. The vendors talked more about the APM vision and how the APM tools are supposed to work – but not about the exact things these tools are able to do. Which you figured out in the best case after you spent a few days evaluating the product.
If check Garter Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring or my list of tools, it is clear that the market is very crowded and not well defined. There is no good criteria you can compare tools and different tools may actually do pretty different things, although it may be difficult to understand reading about them on vendor’s sites.
However I’d say that now we are getting the second generation of APM tools which are much closer to the APM promise for some technologies. I don’t want to list names here and separate “first” and “second” generations. I’d guess that some “first” generation tools might advance to the “second” generation if kept progress – but, as I said, it is difficult to say without actual evaluation of the tools. So I am hearing a lot of stories that people were able to successfully implement APM for system X using tool Y without many problems.
Still you doesn’t have a product which will do APM across all platforms and system if you have a full zoo of different technologies some of which are older than most of your IT employees (as many large corporations do). And don’t believe to anybody who tells you that they can do that. Still it looks like you can do it now for more systems with fewer problems – and start reaping the benefits of APM. Actually I don’t see any other alternative to APM in the long run – although it is a topic for a separate post. But be aware of all points mentioned in Bernd’s post – and check if the product you are going to use doing what you need in the way you want.
P.S. Just before posting noticed another Bernd Harzog post where he shares his view of next generation APM products.