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InfoQ Homepage News AppDynamics Extends Business Transaction Tracing to SAP Environments

AppDynamics Extends Business Transaction Tracing to SAP Environments

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AppDynamics, an application intelligence and performance management vendor owned by Cisco, has announced the availability of AppDynamics for SAP. New code-level monitoring for SAP's high-level programming language, Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP), provides visibility of customer experiences, from digital touch-points through to mission-critical SAP business applications, and from code-level insights to customer "taps, swipes and clicks".

SAP applications are widespread in enterprises today; according to SAP, its enterprise resource planning applications touch 77% of global transaction revenue. However, it has been difficult to understand how the performance of SAP applications, databases, and code impact customers and the business. AppDynamics for SAP enables enterprises to collaborate around business transactions, which are AppDynamics' unit of monitoring that shows how customers interact with applications.

Using AppDynamics for SAP, organisations can use business transactions to identify and map critical data flows between each customer facing technology and systems of record including SAP ERP and CRM technologies which utilise integration layers including SAP PI (process integration) and PO (process orchestration). AppDynamics claim that many other SAP application solutions rely on wire data or hardware-based monitoring, making it impossible to monitor public or multi-cloud environments.

AppDynamics for SAP uses AppDynamics' business transactions capabilities with ABAP agent monitoring to provide insights into SAP environments. This allows for code and database performance monitoring, dynamic baselines, and transaction snapshots when performance deviates from the norm, potentially reducing mean time to repair (MTTR).

Intelligent Alerting baselines normal performance and alerts IT based on health rules that are automatically set for key performance metrics on every business transaction. Using intelligent alerting policies can reduce the noise from siloed monitoring tools and also integrate with existing enterprise workflow tools, including ServiceNow, PagerDuty, and JIRA.

Migrating SAP business applications into the cloud can be expensive, time-consuming and error-prone. Using AppDynamics for SAP may help enterprises moving their SAP applications to the cloud more effectively plan application migrations and measure post-migration results to ensure the same or better levels of user experience.

The movement towards S/4HANA is of high strategic importance to most SAP users for performance and support requirements, but the transition can introduce technical and business challenges. By automatically detecting SAP business transactions and baselining performance, AppDynamics for SAP can provide insight and visibility into downstream dependencies.

InfoQ asked Jonah Kowall, vice president of market development and insights at AppDynamics, to expand on the announcement:

InfoQ: Why has it been so difficult for AppDynamics and the market to make a solution available to SAP in this way?

Jonah Kowall: Until now it's been virtually impossible to gain a deep level of insight into SAP applications, databases and code. It requires automatic tracking and intelligence in software agents that can traverse highly complex distributed applications. This is especially difficult to achieve with SAP RFC. Using AppDynamics' business transaction and ABAP agent, we're able to connect the dots between metrics traversing SAP and non-SAP systems without heavily impacting performance.

InfoQ: What have SAP users been using to perform this type of analysis to date and why is this better?

Kowall: AppDynamics for SAP is a shift towards diagnosing performance problems in a more automated, streamlined and proactive manner. To date, administrators must set up manual tracing, which generates lots of data, and is typically not something done in production due to the heavy overhead and impact. We change that by using capabilities in AppDynamics' AppiQ platform that automatically baseline, identify and isolate the root cause of problems in both test and production environments before customers are impacted.

InfoQ: How can users use the tool to measure the value of what their applications and enhancements are delivering?

Kowall: This is precisely what Business iQ from AppDynamics does. That is something we are working on, so stay tuned!

InfoQ: Can a user write a user story in JIRA and allocate value to it and measure this real time? Or is it that AppDynamics raises an issue in JIRA?

Kowall: AppDynamics has integrations with market-leading solutions such as ServiceNow, JIRA, and many more, so operations teams work directly in the tools they already use. The workflow today creates new issues, tickets, or alerts when we automatically detect performance deviations or critical errors (exceptions for example) in the application. This same workflow applies to the ABAP Agent, as it does with any of our other agents.

InfoQ: How do the AppDynamics agents avoid putting additional load on the SAP servers?

Kowall: Our agents were purposely built with extremely low overhead to not impact performance or customer experience. We're able to minimise our load on SAP servers by using a mixture of autonomous analysis of the performance along with the end-to-end performance to determine where and what we collect. This applies to all of our agents, allowing us to tune the level of capture we do, and tell you the exact line of ABAP code or SQL call that caused a performance problem.

InfoQ: The product is GA - is there a separate licence required for it?

Kowall: Yes, licensing is done per application server within the SAP landscape.

InfoQ: Does AppDynamics see itself as part of a DevOps toolchain?

Kowall: AppDynamics provides DevOps teams with application development lifecycle transparency, from the code to end-user experiences and business outcomes. We are integrated into many parts of the pipeline, including continuous integration systems, continuous release systems, and performance testing systems. We also have customers using our data for automated routing of traffic based on performance. Our ultimate role with DevOps is to empower application teams to deliver impactful customer experiences faster while laying the foundation for scale.

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