Steve Harvey

Application Performance Management: An Alternative to the Swivel-Chair Approach, Part 2

Blog Post created by Steve Harvey Employee on May 9, 2018

In part 1 of this blog I covered the ‘swivel chair’ multi-view method of application performance management, why it’s far too prevalent and the challenges it poses for many customers. I discussed how modern applications are not single technologies in a traditional siloed stack; most often, they are a collection of functions delivered by disparate technologies. This poses a problem for effective application performance management—a problem worth solving.

There are a couple of strong technical solutions to consider, but before we go there, here are a few considerations:

 

  • How often will you need to modify or extend the applications you monitor?
  • Is it worth the effort to tune alert thresholds, update dashboards, and/or modify agent behaviour?
  • What level of detail do you need to see?  How much is too much?
  • Is tracing business transactions in-flight really important to you? If so, why?
  • Is it important that other team members or APM stakeholders have access to the data and/or the cross-app tool?
  • Is implementing SAP Extended Diagnostics (SED) simply too expensive, or does it not deliver the value you need?

 

Some of my customers use CA APM, while others use SAP. The main thing is to find a tool that gives you the data you need while avoiding the swivel-chair approach to APM.

A point solution that has helped many SAP customers enjoy a joined-up approach brings application environments together in a single view. It offers coherent insight and diagnostics across a disparate programming landscape that can include SAP ABAP, JAVA/.NET, PHP and more.

 

Trying to jump from one part of a complex modern application environment to another to trace business transactions in flight is both arduous and error prone. Right to View (RTV), the free APM solution bundled with SAP Solution Manager, has a fixed capability and doesn’t allow for self-augmentation. Solution Manager itself also has a somewhat static scope. Neither RTV nor Solution Manager provides a seamless, joined-up view, and their lack of flexibility can be frustrating when you’re faced with challenges that deviate from the norm.

 

One answer is CA APM with the CA ABAP extension packaged work product (PWP). CA APM offers the functionality of RTV (they are based on the same technology), but in a more extensible and flexible package. The CA ABAP extension PWP is a rich source of environmental and transactional data in a single, in-context view. In addition, a wealth of other possibilities—JavaScript PHP, Application Server and NodeJS—enable operations teams to corral a wide scope of technologies.

 

With the ABAP field pack, you can connect and retrieve data from an SAP ABAP instance and push the data to CA APM. The ABAP field pack invokes SAP BAPI or other SAP remote function modules in the SAP system to gather metrics such as enqueues, operating system, system info, data transactions, users, workload and work processes.

 

A top request of many customers I work with is to enrich the data around the SAP ABAP environment. Application owners and performance managers want to incorporate user information, sessions and dialogues, ICM status, running threads, RFC resources and buffer allocation into their application performance views. The SAP Host Agent feature of CA ABAP allows you to do this. It also adds value by monitoring the virtual environment via collecting metrics for the virtual machine such as max CPU seconds, memory allocated, number of active/waiting VMs, etc.

 

Another neat capability of CA ABAP is ABAP Hotspot Analysis, which measures SAP ABAP instance nodes: function modules, form routines and methods. To make in-context data consumption easier, the CA APM Investigator tree view displays additional metrics in table form.

 

I know this is a lot to consider. If you have real-world experience of RTV, Solution Manager or another SAP/ABAP monitoring tool, many of the terms will make sense. If a lot of this is unfamiliar to you, a more visual and practical demonstration might be useful. You can join me on this webinar (May 15, 2018) if you would like to see how to build a single view of your application and use these tools to gather data from many sources.

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