Application availability and performance are starting to become the true measure of how well an IT department services both internal and external customers. After all, it’s applications that are the primary force behind business operations.
With that in mind, Riverbed has launched SteelCentral AppInternals v10, a product specifically designed to monitor, measure and report on all of the elements that constitute how well an application is working. It is important to note that when it comes to the ideology of monitoring applications, more is obviously better. Case in point is the care that went into creating the sensors that provide the data collection services for AppInternals.
In other words, flexibility is the rule of the day, and Riverbed has accomplished that flexibility by designing a one-two punch of sensors and a monitoring engine that can be adapted to most any application, including those that reside on a cloud-based service or a custom line-of-business application that is fully internalized on a local data center.
Hands On With AppInternals v10
The AppInternals platform uses a combination of a monitoring/management engine and small pieces of software, referred to as sensors. The sensors are deployed to the applications and report data back to the monitoring engine. While that may seem like an oversimplification of the product, it does basically sum up its primary elements.
What is critical to realize is that the platform brings continuous application monitoring to enterprises seeking to better understand application performance, usage and connectivity issues. What’s more, thanks to its deployable sensors, AppInternals can function with most any application and can be run either as a cloud-based service or accessed via a local instance.
Deployment flexibility does not limit AppInternals’ capabilities, which can be summed up as complete cradle to grave monitoring of applications throughout the application life cycle. What’s more, Riverbed has simplified the provisioning process with multiple wizards that can seek out, identify and bring applications into the monitoring fold with ease.
The primary purpose of the product is to trace every transaction from the user to the application back end, and record as well as analyze performance, which allows administrators to interactively monitor every element of a transaction.
In turn, administrators can use dashboards, reports and queries to delve deeper into application issues and identify potential problems before those issues can impact operations. That being said, the product also shows a strength for troubleshooting active problems and narrowing down the root cause of a problem in a matter of minutes. Ultimately, SteelCentral AppInternals v10 combines all of the tools, detection capabilities and analysis into a unified platform that can not only look at past performance, but also actively monitor and report on performance in real time, making it ideal for fixing even the most hard-to-detect and intermittent application performance problems quickly.
Administrators will appreciate the browser- based console, which can be customized and set up as a dashboard that illustrates the most critical aspects of application performance. For example, I was able to quickly drag and drop new elements onto the main console, creating a unique perspective into how applications were performing on the network.
Riverbed’s AppInternals v10 Helps Enterprises Maximize App Performance
Yet the power of the console doesn’t end with drag and drop. The company has gone to great lengths to put a “face on the data.” In other words, applications, users and transactions can be visually mapped, providing additional insight into what is happening with applications, the associated transactions and the media those transactions traverse. That visual representation also helps to roll up related data points into graphs and charts, so that relationships among performance, transactions, paths and users can be readily identified.
What’s more, drill-down into individual elements is just a mouse click away. For example, I was able to quickly traverse the visual representation of the transactions and drill down into the details directly on the console, which in turn presented me with all of the transactions between users and applications, the routes they take and the type of transaction processed, all in glorious detail. This makes tracking down a problem that much easier.
Of course, there is much more to application delivery than just monitoring transactions. For one to truly understand problem root causes, one has to be able to delve into the actual infrastructure supporting those transactions. Here, AppInternals provides the ability to monitor the application servers themselves. The included server monitoring is able to reveal important details about server performance, such as CPU loads, response time and transactions, as well as other critical details that can clue an administrator in to potential problems related to the physical (or virtual) hardware used to serve up applications.
AppInternals doesn’t just stop with the server. It also can monitor further up the infrastructure chain, as well as delve deeper into the internal operations of applications. That translates into the ability to monitor JVMs (Java Virtual Machines), as well as domains, all in real time, enabling administrators to pinpoint potential problems as they occur. Those solvable problems include things such as domain latency, JVM failures and traffic thresholds.
AppInternals adds a little more flash to the monitoring process by also offering the ability to monitor applications and their support mechanisms using geographical cues, where maps relating to the physical locations of elements are presented. Those maps can be defined down to the physical location level, and administrators can zoom out to look at whole regions, continents or however else they would like to categorize the physical aspects of network operations.
Administrators will also benefit from the ability to search through data and perform analytics based upon what-if scenarios, such as date ranges. The integrated search supports a plethora of input fields, allowing administrators to create reporting mashups that deliver the exact information that they need to track down a troublesome problem. Administrators also can drill down into traffic, transaction and performance events, making the product an indispensable troubleshooting tool.
AppInternals analytics capabilities also can provide insight into common problems, such as transactional delays. Here administrators can use drill-down capabilities to quickly determine if the server is the cause of the delay and then take the appropriate actions to resolve the issue. That capability, when tied to the geographical representation of the network, makes it much easier for administrators to identify the physical source of traffic. That in turn helps during active attacks and traffic storms to detect the location traffic is coming from and then associate that traffic with a geographical location so the appropriate action can be taken.
Riverbed rounds out the product with extensive analysis and reporting, all of which can be accessed via pull-down options on the management console. This allows administrators to customize the analytics and reporting to fit whatever need arises. Those results can be further filtered to provide more concise answers, and administrators also have access to Boolean logic controls, which can be combined with pull-down menu options. In short, administrators can create complex queries in historical and active data, all without having to perform any custom programming or scripting.
Riverbed AppInternals v10 proves to be an excellent tool that can solve even the most onerous problems caused by finicky applications by giving administrators the most appropriate information in a moment’s notice.