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InfoQ Homepage News AppDynamics Lite 2 Released - Adds Monitoring Support for Free

AppDynamics Lite 2 Released - Adds Monitoring Support for Free

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Application Performance Measurement (APM) vendor AppDynamics has released AppDynamics Lite version 2.0, bringing new features from their commercial product into the free version.

AppDynamics Lite is able to monitor a single Java Virtual Machine and record processing times for requests the JVM is running. Using the "Diagnostic Sessions" feature, users are able to get method level details about the executed request. Each request is visualized as call graphs showing details about spent time and also indicate calls to external systems, like databases web services. Until now users of AppDynamics Lite could use it for troubleshooting a performance problem, but not benefit from long term monitoring, which was reserved for the paid product. Version 2.0 now introduces two features which allow basic monitoring: 

  • JMX Metric gathering
  • Monitoring of Metrics and alerting

JMX has always been an easy way to get detailed information on important parts of Java applications. Connection pools for threads or databases are prominent examples for JMX Beans with useful information. However getting the JMX information out of a production system was always tedious work. AppDynamics will display JMX metrics on demand, like JConsole would do as well, but in addition it can continue to collect data in the background.

With the newly added monitoring capabilities, users now can decide to keep AppDynamics lite running after having identified problems or even proactively. Notifications can be easily set up, so that emails are sent when pools near exhaustion or certain transactions are slower than given thresholds.

To find out more about the why AppDynamics have integrated monitoring features into a troubleshooting tool, I talked to AppMan, the Superhero Technology Evangelist from AppDynamics:

InfoQ: "AppDynamics Lite was more of a troubleshooting tool, which you could throw into production to find your performance bottleneck. Why has the focus shifted now?"

AppMan: "With Lite 1.0 our mission was to help organizations put out fires in production which were impacting their business. Whilst Lite 1.0 enabled organizations to do that quickly our focus with Lite 2.0 shifted to helping them become more proactive so they were alerted of application performance issues in real-time. Production environments will always suffer performance issues and outages due to the amount of change that happens in IT these days. Application Performance Management (APM) therefore should never stop, its a continuous process, you need to be able to identify issues as they occur, troubleshoot rapidly and reduce any impact and risk to the business."

InfoQ: "Why did you integrate JMX into AppDynamics Lite? There are already plenty of JMX tools out in the market. Most of them are free was well."

AppMan: "Lite 1.0 was a top down approach to APM. You start with a slow business transaction and drill down to see its code execution path so you can understand which classes, methods, interfaces and SQL statements were responsible for issues. Integrating JMX metrics into Lite 2.0 provides a bottom up approach to APM because you get to monitor the health and resource of the application container and its JVM Run-time. JMX has become a standard in the monitoring world for Java based applications and technology, customers can write their own custom MBeans to expose their own application KPI metrics, this means with Lite 2.0 users can now monitor a vast range of application and JVM metrics."

InfoQ: "Isn't it risky to put a free product into your mission critical live environment?"

AppMan: "50,000 Lite users have already battle-tested the product in production. Free doesn't mean risky when it comes to deploying software in live environments, Apache Web Server and Tomcat are perfect examples of this. Looking back at the last decade its been risky to put many commercial APM products into mission critical live environments. The majority of APM solutions on the market today were never designed to work in production 24/7, we know this because we've done business with several customers who have tried desperately and never got the results they were promised. We built AppDynamics Lite and Pro for production monitoring of mission critical distributed applications, we're laser focused on solving real business pain for organizations, thats why AppDynamics has been growing at 400% for the last year."

InfoQ: "Are there any AppMan Super Powers contained in Lite?"

AppMan: "Well, my X-Ray vision is certainly in Lite thats for sure. No other product on the market today gives you complete visibility of code execution and latency in a production environment for a business transaction. Many other products try but they only show you partial code execution because they profile code for everything, which as you know creates overhead in production. I think AppDynamics Lite is alot like me: smart, powerful and damn good looking."

AppDynamics Lite is a free product and can be obtained from the AppDynamics Lite download page. The paid product adds features like automatic discovery of multiple JVMs and 14/7 monitoring based on self learning baselines. A detailed product comparison is available as well.

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