Riverbed, the company known best for its Steelhead WAN Optimization product, has beefed up its Application Performance Management (APM) suite. In 2012, Riverbed acquired OPNET for a cool billion to complement the network performance management (NPM) suite it inherited when it purchased Mazu. The product formerly known as OPNET, AppInternals Xpert was rebranded to SteelCentral AppInternals, and this week the company released version 9.0 of the suite.
The SteelCentral product consists of several components. Collector agents are deployed on the end points to gather information. The data generated is then passed to a collector that aggregates the information from the agents. The collector then passes the information to the SteelCentral AppInternals console as the "single pane of glass" for the system. All of the historical information is then stored in a centralized repository known as AppInternals Big Data. This enables customers to then go back and reply information or use the data for historical analysis.
The big value for something like AppInternals is helping customers find where problems are occurring faster. My research has shown that 90% of the time taken to solve problems is simply isolating the problem. Once the problem is found, IT can take whatever action to remediate the issue, but finding that proverbial needle in a haystack is very difficult with legacy management tools. This becomes a significantly bigger problem as businesses start to leverage the IP network for voice and video traffic. All of a sudden network problems that may not have been noticeable stick out like a huge sore thumb. I've talked to a number of Riverbed/OPNET customers over the years and AppInternals reduces the time to find problems by an order of magnitude in some cases.
Since the acquisition, Riverbed has integrated AppInternals with the NPM capabilities, giving an end-to-end vide of the entire ecosystem. The combination of NPM and APM is a powerful combination for IT managers looking to measure and manage the end-user experience. End-user experience management has always been somewhat of a "holy grail" in the management and monitoring space, but the industry is certainly closer to that goal than ever.
Version 9.0 of AppInternals brought with it a number of new features, including the following:
- Mobile management. To me, this was the most notable part of the release. Version 9.0 extends the basic mobile monitoring capabilities introduced in version 8.5. This newest version has native mobile support for iOS, Android, and rich web applications. Now the IT operations team can monitor and analyze the behavior of mobile applications from a central location.
- HDAnalytics. Riverbed has added high-definition transaction capture combined with contextual information for faster root cause analysis. AppInternals now tracks method parameters and captures descriptive data on a per-transaction basis. The application support teams can now traverse an entire transaction to understand business context by looking at the recorded method parameters. The contextual data can help isolate application problems without having to try and re-create them.
- Analytic workflows and correlation. In version 9.0, Riverbed added a number of out-of-the-box, web-based workflows. Instead of having to spend time building workflows, the operations team can focus on problem solving.
Recently, Riverbed has been evangelizing the vision of "location independent computing" (LIC). The concept of LIC is something I agree with -- computing isn't just in the cloud or in a data center, it's everywhere. The key is to use the right compute resources in the right location to complete whatever task at that moment in time. However, leveraging LIC means businesses have to deal with traditional applications as well as cloud and mobile. Riverbed's AppInternals, combined with the company's NPM platform, should give IT departments the necessary visibility and data required to manage this ever-changing application environment.