Best tools for keeping end users happy

ExtraHop wins Application Performance Monitoring (APM) shootout

SLIDEFEATURED PRODUCTS
Application Performance Monitoring

When users complain that an application is slow or when customers abandon online sessions without buying anything, the cause of the problem is often elusive and mysterious. But Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tools address this problem. An APM tool monitors application performance and availability to show exactly how much time each application component takes to respond to a user’s requests. The information helps you decide what network or computing environment changes to make to solve the problem. We tested five products; here are the results. See the story version.

ExtraHop

While all the tools exhibited a range of APM strengths and abilities, we found that ExtraHop’s appliance did the best job of keeping our users’ performance complaints to a minimum. It was quickest to identify performance problems, its display of application activity was easiest to use and it had the best virtual machine support.

BMC EUEM

BMC EUEM’s endpoint- and session-oriented transaction analysis quickly and accurately spotted our bottlenecks, but EUEM required that we license a number of other vendors’ products, and it lacked a high level of support for virtual computing and public clouds. EUEM focused on our endpoints to show us session-by-session performance details. Its sophisticated analyzer quickly and unerringly revealed where and why transactions were encountering bottlenecks. And EUEM produced a range of useful reports. However, EUEM required that we have Oracle database software, its cloud monitoring required us to install BMC’s Real User Cloud Probe module and its Extended Reports required us to license a variety of SAP BusinessObjects elements.

Dell FogLight

Dell FogLight is a superlative database performance monitor. Furthermore, it visually depicted our application topology in clear and easy-to-understand ways, it offers a rich set of analysis tools and FogLight’s script language makes it extremely versatile, both for defining custom applications and adding new metrics. Unfortunately, for all but the simplest and smallest IT environment, Dell’s APM tool requires considerable configuration effort.

Visual TruView

Visual TruView is agentless, installs in less than 30 minutes and collects data from a variety of sources. These include end-to-end transactions, SNMP events and NetFlow packets from routers. Network-wide device discovery is quick and accurate. The Visual TruView browser-based interface is thoughtfully designed, highly responsive and easy to navigate. We were never more than a couple of mouse clicks from our next task or from answering our next question. Visual TruView uncovers a wealth of performance data from the network activity it captures and analyzes, but we found it to be “packet-centric” and more technically demanding than the other products.

FactFinder

FactFinder accurately mapped transaction paths and timings from tier to tier, graphically charted real-time application service levels, quickly notified us when application performance fell below the thresholds we set, thoughtfully distilled a large set of out-of-bounds findings down to a manageable list of possible root causes and tightly integrated with Microsoft’s System Center Operations Manager (SCOM). However, in contrast to the other products in this review, FactFinder is purely agent-based. Instead of intercepting and analyzing wire traffic (sometimes with the optional aid of a modicum of JavaScript instrumentation), FactFinder uses software modules running in the background on the same server(s) as the application to be monitored.