CA Tuesday Tip: Keeping Your Definitions Current

Discussion created by Hallett_German Employee on Nov 25, 2012
CA Wily Tuesday Tip by Hallett German, Sr. Support Engineer for 11/27/2012

Did you ever read the story of Rip Van Winkle? You know the one -- where an APM CE administrator who falls asleep after adding a hundred transaction definitions? He wakes up after sleeping for six months and finds that all his definitions are out of date and generating false positives and bad metrics. What horrors! What, that's not how the story goes? Well for some APM CE Administrators, it does happen that way. This article talks about why transaction definitions go out of date and tips on keeping them current.

Transaction definitions go out of the date for these reasons:

1) New application releases (both major and minor) come out with new/modified/deleted URLs, HTTP headers, HTTP components and the like.
2) The definition was not correct to begin with.
3) HTTP/HTML/SSL etc. is always changing.
4) New releases come out of web servers, load balancers, firewalls, application servers, etc.
5) Changes in host names/fully-qualified domain names.

So how often should one review their definitions? Typically this is done once every three to six months (2-4 times a year). This of course depends on frequency of application changes and the other factors listed above.

What is the best approach to update a definition? Typically used are a variety of approaches
1) Under Business Services, run the "Save to CSV" option to see when the last time a transaction definition was "hit." If it has been many months, then a new definition is in order.
2) Re-record the definition and see if you can get defect/statistics. It might be worth the time to compare to the current definition to understand the differences.
3) For new releases, record the definition first in APM CE test environment and then migrate them to production. (Provided the definitions are close to each other.) Discussing release changes with application staff may help speed up this process. Part of this testing should be have defects and statistics changed in the new release and the reasons why.
4) You can also record in production, move it to a Sandbox business application to test. You can then copy it under the business service. (However this will be seen as a new business transaction and cause issues for those tracking historical statistics. To overcome this, instead promote the new definition instead into the existing business transaction. (Of course after testing.)

These are the discussion questions for this article:
1. How often to do refresh your transaction definitions/ What are some of the major reasons for changing definitions?
2. Which of the above approaches do you use to update a definition?
3. How involved are your application teams involved in testing that your transaction definitions are current?