APM: An intro to the ECS Digital approach

APM: An intro to the ECS Digital approach

Application Performance Management (APM) is the monitoring and management of the availability and performance of software applications. Different people and industries interpret this definition differently, so we’re going to qualify what APM is, the overall business benefits and finally, what we at ECS Digital can bring to the table from a DevOps perspective when working with our specialist APM partner company – AppDynamics.

What is APM?

Picture2-1.pngcomplex dashboard.pngIf, as a business or individual, you’re going to take control of the performance of your applications, then it’s important to understand what you’re looking to measure and how to interpret it in a business context.

APM has been commonplace in software development for several years now, and as applications have evolved from stand-alone to client-server, distributed and finally cloud-based elastic applications, APM has evolved to follow suit.

APM represents the performance management of applications, allowing you to determine when they are behaving normally and the causes when they aren’t.

This often involves the following activities:

• Collection of performance metrics across an entire application environment

• Interpretation of those metrics in the light of your business application

• Analysis of those metrics against what constitutes normalcy

• Capture of relevant contextual information when abnormalities are detected

• Alerts informing you about abnormal behaviour

• Implementation of rules that define how to react and adapt your application environment to      remediate performance problems

What are the business benefits?

When it comes to APM, many business owners need guidance on what the true benefits are. While the potential benefits are limitless, there are also several real-world advantages that can not only determine the success of a company, but also the success of the implementers reputation:

Increased sales and reduced revenue risk: Every business that utilises eCommerce, directly or indirectly, must understand that the functionality and performance of their applications can determine the level of sales revenue of their business.

Website & business continuity: The role of APM is threefold in this area.

  1. Verifies that the core services of businesses maintain their expected level of operations and visibility.
  2. Enhances the IT department’s ability to troubleshoot existing problems and identify future issues/errors.
  3. Promotes safe implementation of changes and application adjustments without sacrificing website speed.

Enhanced end-user experience: The primary benefit of APM solutions is to continually satisfy your end-users. If they don’t have an enjoyable experience, then they will likely go to your competitor. By implementing an effective APM solution, you’ll increase and maintain user satisfaction

Increased productivity: Research has shown that organisations who utilise a powerful APM solution reduced troubleshooting and diagnostic man-hours by up to 59 percent per month. This significant reduction in time spent treating applications means the IT department has more time to implement other vital changes and monitoring.

Fostering innovation: When applications are proactively managed, IT teams don’t have to deal with as many fire drills. APM foster better collaboration and knowledge sharing among different departments such as DevOps.

Why ECS Digital?

APM allows businesses to understand their application estates, in real time. We use it to routinely make sure that the software our customers develop works as it should.

Using APM software and tools provided by our partners AppDynamics, we provide businesses with the critical data they need, when they need it. This data can be unified from various monitoring siloes in a centralised correlation engine and dashboard, and can be used to isolate and fix problems that might appear in code.

This way, any issues in terms of quality, performance or scope can be quickly detected and diagnosed. This helps businesses to eliminate error-prone, repetitive manual tasks, and focus on delivering software that their end-users love, at the performance they deserve.

And, while we’re tool-agnostic, our partnership with AppDynamics allows us to focus on the benefits that our working relationship has brought to several leading companies from a range of industries:

Assisted a world leading Fortune 500 professional services company with understanding and improving performance.

A longtime customer of AppDynamics, Cognizant are one of the world’s leading professional services companies. After the introduction of APM, the internal ops team were able to identify and create a new set of rules which helped deliver focus and meaning to their metrics. An example of this is the introduction of team wide alerts, set to go off as soon as a system ‘health rule’ was triggered.


Vodafone: Monitor & diagnose a flagship e-store under incredible load during the launch of a new product.

Brought in prior to the global iPhone 7 launch, AppDynamics worked with Vodafone to monitor the new system’s performance under extreme load. The relationship allowed Vodafone to diagnose and solve an issue with live content (a pre-prod image URL made it into prod in the rush) avoiding a major product launch complication.


HSBC CMB (Commercial Bank): Provide visibility to a monolithic enterprise app, essential to business banking services of a global financial institute.

AppDynamics brought in to give much-needed visibility into a very large and monolithic Java app used by HSBC’s business banking services CMB. The scope was to not only assist with the visibility afforded to troubleshooting code infrastructure, but also as to act as a tool to compare infrastructure changes to back experts’ inferences with real data.

HSBC RBWM (Retail Banking and Wealth Management): To assist with the stabilisation of the highly visible UK banking services.

Standards for AppDynamics deployments and for health-checking existing deployments were drawn up and applied across a wide swathe of teams and technologies. Part of the work at RBWM was in documenting these standards and making them available to a distributed centre of excellence comprising many levels of the organisation.


If you have any questions about ECS Digital or APM, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

ECS Digital are leaders in Automation and Digital Transformation. We’ve been helping enterprises deliver software and software-related services faster and at lower cost through the adoption of DevOps and Continuous Delivery practices, since 2003.

Michael WarrAPM: An intro to the ECS Digital approach
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All Hands on DevOps #7 – Monitoring x3

All Hands on DevOps #7 – Monitoring x3

Metrics, monitoring and a generous helping of real-world experience set the stage for an intensely informative evening at the latest #AHODevOps.

For those that were unable to join us, and those whose memory needs refreshing, a quick summary of what we covered during the evening lies below, although we can’t possibly hope to capture the energy or passion of the nights two presenters in a blog post – to get a feel for that, you’ll need to attend a session in person!

Now on to our evening.…

Data driven Analytics for DevOps

Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate, Splunk@AndiMann.

Andi began the evening’s session with a thought provoking discussion on how decision making could be aided, or even automated, based on data collected from across the software cycle, with an end goal of improving velocity, quality and impact. However, the DevOps ecosystem is much more complicated than the sum of its parts, especially if you consider business impact.

Elaborating on this, Andi introduced the idea of using data as the single dependable constant across an entire business. He argued that if decisions were rationally based on good data that everyone can access, then everyone should be able to understand the individual reasons behind business each business decision and why it was made.

This approach inevitably leads to the following questions – what data is good data, and which metrics matter? It turns out that stakeholders could share more information than initially expected, as their concerns overlap.

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Finally, the focus turned to discussing three examples of how to put this process into practice:

  • Making data available to internal stakeholders to analyse velocity
  • Automatically analysing code quality to provide blameless feedback
  • Visualising business impact to give everyone a better idea of what’s working and what isn’t

Andi’s slides (including an impressive list of references) can be found here: Data-Driven Decisions for Better DevOps Outcomes

What we learned about Monitoring Production Container workloads in an Enterprise

Chris Jackson, Director of Cloud Platform Engineering, Pearson@chriswiggy.

During his session Chris shared some of his experiences in monitoring a custom, Kubernetes-based platform for digital education.

He began by describing his vision of “Development on rails” – the process of standardising and automating as much as possible, even offering self-service provisioning of databases etc. so developers can concentrate on actual development.

We then moved on to the idea of – “Monitoring driven development”- easily QOTD (after “the Spider-Man principle” with great power…). Specifically, this is the idea that you should be using APM to inform developers on what needs to change to get their apps containerised.

Throughout both topics, Chris’s passion and belief in proactive, User Experience-centric monitoring came through strongly. This can be a hard thing for enterprises with an established monitoring set-up to come around to, despite it being more important than ever since the advent of containerisation.

The key takeaway here is that monitoring and alerting should be geared towards what affects customers (internal or external!) and NOT simply on error rates or basic infrastructure metrics.

You can also find Pearson’s GitHub page for their custom Kubernetes/Jenkins Pipeline tool here: Custom Kubernetes/Jenkins Pipeline tool

As you can see, the evening covered some really insightful and engaging topics. And as such, we’d encourage you to book your place at our next Meetup before seats fill up!

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Thanks to everyone who came along. We always enjoy sharing our knowledge, pizza and beer! We hope everyone had a great time and learned something new.

As always, we’d love to hear any ideas and suggestions you might have for our next event.

Michael WarrAll Hands on DevOps #7 – Monitoring x3
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