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Performance

Tech Turducken – Mulitple Dynasties within an Elongated APM Hype Cycle

Application Performance Management has reinvented itself in order to remain relevant, competitive and differentiated.

The difference between a hype cycle and a dynastic cycle can be equated to the difference between an immortal and a phoenix: once the hype cycle plateaus out it lives on into perpetuity, whereas a dynasty flames out and then re-emerges to live again. The Application Performance Management (APM) industry is like a family of phoenixes, using technology triggers from the infrastructure it observes to rise again. Whereas some people would claim that this is because APM doesn’t actually do anything beyond observation, I would argue that the real reason is because APM vendors are particularly incented to continuously reinvent themselves in order to remain competitive.

IT adoption trends follow a predictable, and oft-cited hype cycle that starts with a technology trigger, gets a lot of early adopters and product marketers very excited, then goes through a trough of disillusionment borne out of the inflated expectations (and the realization that sometimes Marketing is just hyperbole after all), and ultimately levels off into a plateau of productivity once people understand how to use the technology best and a lot of the early horn blowers have died off or been acquired by larger incumbent vendors.

gartner_hype_cycle

APM, however, cannot be viewed as a whole because of the domain-specific nature of the tools, which are a function of the expertise and depth required to adequately serve any given discipline: infrastructure, databases, web servers, applications, transactions, and end user experience (EUE). This breadth highlights the inside-out progression and evolution of the APM space and underscores the need for domain-specific depth in APM tools.  Are there “holistic” APM mega-vendors? Sure, everyone has heard of BMC, CA and IBM, but when you look at a macro level you see plateaus. If you look a bit deeper, focusing on companies like AppNeta, AppDynamics and New Relic for example, you’ll see constant reinvention based on advances and trends in technology and app development that require better visibility and insights.

The most recent dynasties have risen out of Mobile Moments, and more than a few high profile Mobile Mistakes as companies strive to find the secret to optimal EUE. Many of you will recognize the various mobile dynasties:

  • m.sites – businesses who didn’t understand mobile or who didn’t have the resources to architect a great EUE implemented the first examples of adaptive serving gone wrong.
  • HTML5 apps – the code once, run everywhere appeal of HTML5 led to the rise of the notion of a mobile-first mentality, but when high-profile companies like LinkedIn went all in on HTML5 they became disillusioned when EUE suffered due to heavy use of LinkedIn crashing mobile browsers.
  • Native apps – developing native mobile apps was then seen as a solution to poor EUE for mobile users and gave rise to an entire MBaaS market, but met with resistance when the cost/benefit analysis highlighted the incredible ongoing cost of mobile app development and optimization.
  • Responsive Web Design (RWD) – as technology caught up to the marketing hype around the mobile first mentality, RWD promised a solution for omni-device EUE optimization, but the dirty little secret that exactly the same content would be delivered to every device resulted in a visually consistent experience but a poor overall EUE due to fragmented performance profiles across devices.
  • Adaptive Web Design (AWD), RESS or Adaptive Serving – it’s new enough to still go by a number of aliases) – sending the right content to the end user device sounds facepalm simple, but is difficult to implement in practice.  Still, the Mobile industry is moving in that direction and is starting to force real synergy between CIOs and CMOs in a way that was just the apple of the analysts’ collective eye for years.

The tie that binds these together is the quest for maximizing EUE to realize business improvements. Recent Tech-Tonics research takes early work done by the likes of Google, Walmart and Yahoo! and applies a modern, industry-wide analysis to highlight the tie between EUE and business success.  The findings are clear – companies taking a unified approach to performance management and EUE realize:

  • 41% stock market outperformance (95% vs. 67% growth for the peer group)
  • 29% (well, up to…) valuation premiums
  • 17% higher operating margins
  • 15% faster revenue growth than peer group average

This helps to explain why APM continues to reinvent itself in order to remain relevant, competitive and differentiated.  When there is proof that EUE drives business performance, and modern application development requires APM to span multiple IT disciplines and include line of business analytics to mirror the web application optimization efforts being applied, the only way to undertsand and optimize Performance and Engagement to realize business Impact is through a holistic approach.  In subsequent blogs, I will explore the CIO and CMO synergy in more detail to highlight where holistic management is required, go into other disciplines related to APM (like SIEM and ITOA), and discuss how Yottaa is purpose-built to meet these challenges in today’s modern web application landscape.


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