|By Andreas Grabner||
|December 3, 2012 07:30 AM EST||
Swarovski - the leading producer of cut crystal in the world - relies on its eCommerce store as much like other companies in the highly competitive eCommerce environment. Swarovski's story is no different from others in this space: They started with "Let's build a website to sell our products online" a couple of years ago and quickly progressed to "We sell to 60 million annual visitors across 23 countries in six languages." There were bumps along the road and they realized that it takes more than just a bunch of servers and tools to keep the site running.
Why APM and why you don't just need a tool
Swarovski relies on Intershop's eCommerce platform and faced several challenges as they rapidly grew. Their challenges required them to apply Application Performance Management (APM) practices to ensure they could fulfill the business requirements to keep pace with customer growth while maintaining an excellent user experience. The most insightful comment I heard was from René Neubacher, Senior eBusiness Technology Consultant at Swarovski: "APM is not just about software. APM is a culture, a mindset and a set of business processes. APM software supports that."
René recently discussed their Journey to APM, what their initial problems were and what requirements they ended up having on APM and the tools they needed to support their APM strategy. By now they reached the next level of maturity by establishing a Performance Center of Excellence. This allows them to tackle application performance proactively throughout the organization instead of putting out fires reactively in production.
This article describes the challenges they faced, the questions that arose and the new generation APM requirements that paved the way forward in their performance journey:
Swarvoski had traditional system monitoring in place on all their systems across their delivery chain including web servers, application servers, SAP, database servers, external systems and the network. Knowing that each individual component is up and running 99.99% of the time is great but no longer sufficient. How might these individual component outages impact the user experience of their online shoppers? Who is actually responsible for the end user experience and how should you monitor the complete delivery chain and not just the individual components? These and other questions came up when the eCommerce site attracted more customers which was quickly followed by more complaints about their user experience:
APM includes getting a holistic view of the complete delivery chain and requires someone to be responsible for end user experience.
Questions that had no answers
In addition to "Who is responsible in case users complain?" the other questions that needed to be urgently addressed included:
- How often is the service desk called before IT knows that there is a problem?
- How much time is spent in searching for system errors versus building new features?
- Do we have a process to find the root-cause when a customer reports a problem?
- How do we visualize our services from the customer‘s point of view?
- How much revenue, brand image and productivity are at risk or lost while IT is searching for the problem?
- What to do when someone says "it‘s slow"?
The Ten Requirements
These unanswered questions triggered the need to move away from traditional system monitoring and develop the requirements for new generation APM and user experience management.
1: Support State-of-the-Art Architecture
Based on their current system architecture it was clear that Swarovski needed an approach that was able to work in their architecture, now and in the future. The rise of more interactive Web 2.0 and mobile applications had to be factored in to allow monitoring end users from many different devices and regardless of whether they used a web application or mobile native application as their access point.
Transactions need to be followed from the browser all the way back to the database. It is important to support distributed transactions. This approach also helps to spot architectural and deployment problems immediately
2: 100% transactions and clicks - No Averages
Based on their experience, Swarovski knew that looking at average values or sampled data would not be helpful when customers complained about bad performance. Responding to a customer complaint with "Our average user has no problem right now - sorry for your inconvenience" is not what you want your helpdesk engineers to use as a standard phrase. Averages or sampling also hides the real problems you have in your system. Check out the blog post Why Averages Suck by Michael Kopp for more detail.
Measuring end user performance of every customer interaction allows for quick identification of regional problems with CDNs, Third Parties or Latency.
Having 100% user interactions and transactions available makes it easy to identify the root cause for individual users
3: Business Visibility
As the business had a growing interest in the success of the eCommerce platform, IT had to demonstrate to the business what it took to fulfill their requirements and how business requirements are impacted by the availability or the lack of investment in the application delivery chain.
Correlating the number of Visits with Performance on incoming Orders illustrates the measurable impact of performance on revenue and what it takes to support business requirements.
4: Impact of 3rd Parties and CDNs
It was important to not only track transactions involving their own Data Center but all user interactions with their web site - even those delivered through CDNs or third parties. All of these interactions make up the user experience and therefore all of it needs to be analyzed.
Seeing the actual load impact of third-party components or content delivered from CDNs enables IT to pinpoint user experience problems that originate outside their own data center.
5: Across the life cycle - supporting collaboration and tearing down silos
The APM initiative was started because Swarovski reacted to problems happening in production. Fixing these problems in production is only the first step. Their ultimate goal is to become pro-active by finding and fixing problems in development or testing-before they spill over into production. Instead of relying on different sets of tools with different capabilities, the requirement is to use one single solution that is designed to be used across the application lifecycle (Developer Workstation, Continuous Integration, Testing, Staging and Production). It will make it easier to share application performance data between lifecycle stages allowing individuals to not only easily look at data from other stages but also compare data to verify impact and behavior of code changes between version updates.
Continuously catching regressions in Development by analyzing unit and performance tests allows application teams to become more proactive.
Pinpointing integration and scalability issues, continuously, in acceptance and load testing makes testing more efficient and prevents problems from reaching production.
6: Down to the source code
In order to speed up problem resolution Swarovski's operations and development teams require as much code-level insight as possible - not only for their own engineers who are extending the Intershop eCommerce Platform but also for Intershop to improve their product. Knowing what part of the application code is not performing well with which input parameters or under which specific load on the system eliminates tedious reproduction of the problem. The requirement is to lower the Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) from as much as several days down to only a couple of hours.
The SAP Connector turned out to have a performance problem. This method-level detailed information was captured without changing any code.
7: Zero/Acceptable overhead
"Who are we kidding? There is nothing like zero overhead especially when you need 100% coverage!" - Just the words from René when you explained that requirement. And he is right: once you start collecting information from a production system you add a certain amount of overhead. A better term for this would be "imperceptible overhead" - overhead that's so small, you don't notice it.
What is the exact number? It depends on your business and your users. The number should be worked out from the impact on the end user experience, rather than additional CPU, memory or network bandwidth required in the data center. Swarovski knew they had to achieve less than 2% overhead on page load times in production, as anything more would have hurt their business; and that's what they achieved.
8: Centralized data collection and administration
Running a distributed eCommerce application that gets potentially extended to additional geographical locations requires an APM system with a centralized data collection and administration option. It is not feasible to collect different types of performance information from different systems, servers or even data centers. It would either require multiple different analysis tools or data transformation to a single format to use it for proper analysis.
Instead of this approach, a single unified APM system was required by Swarovski. Central administration is equally important as they need to eliminate the need to rely on remote IT administrators to make changes to the monitored system, for example, simple tasks such as changing the level of captured data or upgrading to a new version.
By storing and accessing performance data from a single, centralized repository, enables fast and powerful analytic and visualization. For example, system metrics such as CPU utilization can be correlated with end-user response time or database execution time - all displayed on one single dashboard.
9: Auto-Adapting Instrumentation without digging through code
As the majority of the application code is not developed in-house but provided by Intershop, it is mandatory to get insight into the application without doing any manual code changes. The APM system must auto-adapt to changes so that no manual configuration change is necessary when a new version of the application is deployed.
This means Swarovski can focus on making their applications positively contribute to business outcomes; rather than spend time maintaining IT systems.
10: Ability to extend
Their application is an always growing an ever-changing IT environment. Where everything might have been deployed on physical boxes it might be moved to virtualized environments or even into a public cloud environment.
Whatever the extension may be - the APM solution must be able to adapt to these changes and also be extensible to consume new types of data sources, e.g., performance metrics from Amazon Cloud Services or VMware, Cassandra or other Big Data Solutions or even extend to legacy Mainframe applications and then bring these metrics into the centralized data repository and provide new insights into the application's performance.
Extending the application monitoring capabilities to Amazon EC2, Microsoft Windows Azure, a public or private cloud enables the analysis of the performance impact of these virtualized environments on end user experience.
The Solution and the Way Forward
Needless to say that Swarovski took the first step in implementing APM as a new process and mindset in their organization. They are now in the next phase of implementing a Performance Center of Excellence. This allows them moving from Reactive Performance Troubleshooting to Proactive Performance Prevention.
Stay tuned for more blog posts on the Performance Center of Excellence and how you can build one in your own organization. The key message is that it is not about just using a bunch of tools. It is about living and breathing performance throughout the organization. If you are interested in this check out the blogs by Steve Wilson: Proactive vs Reactive: How to prevent problems instead of fixing them faster and Performance in Development is the Chief Cornerstone.
- Mainstream Business Applications and In-Memory Databases
- Working with Project Management Software – Who Is Managing Who?
- APM Convergence: Monitoring vs. Management
- Donald Fischer Joins General Catalyst as Venture Partner
- DataStax Hires Clint Smith as General Counsel
- Achieving Agile Transformation with Kanban, Kotter, and Lean Startup
- The Top Five Benefits of Cloud Computing
- Compuware APM Recognized as Trendsetter in Big Data Solutions
- Compuware APM Extends Leadership in Big Data
- How to Performance Test Automation for GWT and SmartGWT
- Will These Five Websites Make the Same Mistake Twice During the Big Game?
- RSA Conference USA 2014 Exhibitor Profiles (A through L)
- Mainstream Business Applications and In-Memory Databases
- Consumer Electronics - Global Trends, Estimates and Forecasts, 2011-2018
- Working with Project Management Software – Who Is Managing Who?
- Objective-C Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (2nd Edition)
- APM Convergence: Monitoring vs. Management
- Small Medium Business (SMB) IT Continues to Gain Respect, What About SOHO?
- Donald Fischer Joins General Catalyst as Venture Partner
- Big Data Market: Business Case, Market Analysis and Forecasts 2014 - 2019
- Analyzing Web Site Performance Made Easy
- 2014 International CES Exhibitor Profiles: Samsung Electronics America, Inc. to 3D Vision Technologies Limited
- Global Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software Industry
- Creating JavaServer Faces Maven Managed Projects with Eclipse
- Building a Drag-and-Drop Shopping Cart with AJAX
- What Is AJAX?
- Google Maps! AJAX-Style Web Development Using ASP.NET
- Where Are RIA Technologies Headed in 2008?
- How and Why AJAX, Not Java, Became the Favored Technology for Rich Internet Applications
- Flashback to January 2006: Exclusive SYS-CON.TV Interviews on "OpenAjax Alliance" Announcement
- "Real-World AJAX" One-Day Seminar Arrives in Silicon Valley
- AJAXWorld Conference & Expo to Take Place October 2-4, 2006, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, California
- AJAX Sponsor Webcasts Are Now Available at AJAXWorld Website
- AJAXWorld University Announces AJAX Developer Bootcamp
- AJAX Support In JadeLiquid WebRenderer v3.1
- i-Technology 2008 Predictions: Where's RIAs, AJAX, SOA and Virtualization Headed in 2008?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ambernet Technologies, the innovative “Cloud Management Center” company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Ambernet Technologies is a leading global provider of cloud management software (CloudTruOps) and IT professional services to the enterprise, service provider and government markets. CloudTruOps is the industry’s first infrastructure-independent and service-aware software solution that provides a fully transactional single pane of glass for cloud service provisioning & orchestration, governance, policy, security, performance, self-service storefront, and billing/chargeback for multiple clouds. Ambernet's IT professional services provide consulting services, solutions, and support. Ambernet is a global company with headquarters in Dallas, Texas and regional offices in Toronto, Canada, and Bangalore, India.
Mar. 10, 2014 09:27 AM EDT Reads: 507
The evolutionary nature of mobile presents a security-centric challenge for businesses with corporate content on these devices. Enterprises put themselves at risk when users access sensitive information through email and applications across smartphones and tablets, while mobile. Organizations can choose to ignore this security threat or enhance employee productivity through secure corporate containers. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Eric Owings, an enterprise account executive at AirWatch®, will discuss best practices and strategies to ensure global security and workforce enablement by leveraging enterprise mobility management (EMM) across the enterprise. He will also provide attendees with a deeper understanding of enterprise mobility in a connected ecosystem, while ensuring security and compliance in the cloud.
Mar. 7, 2014 09:45 AM EST Reads: 1,647
Cascading is the popular Java-based application development framework for building Big Data applications on Apache Hadoop. This open source framework allows you to leverage existing skillsets such as Java, SQL, R, and more to create enterprise-grade applications without having to think in MapReduce. In his session at 5th Big Data Expo, Alexis Roos, a Senior Solutions Architect focusing on Big Data solutions at Concurrent, Inc., will give an introduction to Cascading, how it works, and then dive into how enterprises can start building applications with Cascading. Come and see how companies like Twitter, eBay, Etsy, and other data-driven companies are taking advantage of Cascading and how Cascading is changing the business of Big Data in the enterprise.
Mar. 4, 2014 11:15 AM EST Reads: 1,796
The world’s largest and most successful private cloud operations are revolutionizing their approach to demand management. These organizations have recognized that while self-service portals are a component in the overall cloud architecture, these tools do not enable demand management. In fact, in many cases the portals and end-user interfaces don’t actually capture anything to do with demand, but instead force the user to enter the capacity “supply” requirements that they think will meet their demands. This is very different. Large enterprises have recognized the need to look beyond immediate requests to also model the “pipeline” of new demands that will be coming down the road. It is only by capturing new immediate requirements, an understanding of the pipeline and what is running in environments that organizations can possibly hope to accurately model demand and properly allocate compute, storage and network resources.
Mar. 4, 2014 10:15 AM EST Reads: 1,799
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity. Without bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover you either end up with an Internet of somethings and/or a big mess of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, a Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will focus on how to ensure businesses have the right plans in place for Systems of Discovery for the Internet-of-Things world we are entering.
Mar. 4, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 2,039
Nominations for participating vendors will be accepted through Twitter at @ThingsExpo. The "Open Cloud Shoot-Out at @ThingsExpo New York," in which leading cloud providers are expected to participate, will be held live on stage at the event. The Shootout will provide the vendors with an opportunity to demonstrate the features and capabilities of their products, with a particular focus on interoperability, scalability, security, and reliability in terms of development, deployment, and management.
Feb. 25, 2014 02:30 PM EST Reads: 2,213
As businesses aspire to move more and more application workloads outside of the boundaries of their private cloud data centers, public cloud service providers are increasingly implementing a private cloud staple: resiliency. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, John Roese, SVP and Chief CTO at EMC Corporation, will summarize the key architectural tenets of resilient private cloud architectures. These tenets can be implemented in any service provider cloud implementation, regardless of hypervisor choice (e.g., VMware, Hyper-V, Xen), cloud orchestration software (e.g., vSphere, OpenStack), network implementation (e.g., SDN, NFV), or storage implementation (file, block, object). A resilient public cloud will naturally attract increased workload migration, and the rest of the session will describe foundational technologies that facilitate not only secure and seamless application workload migration, but secure and seamless data set migration as well.
Feb. 25, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,980
Fueled by the global economic situation, the government's focus on datacenter consolidation and the "Cloud First" initiative, Cloud Computing continues to be the buzzword of the year. As government agencies start to adopt cloud computing, additional challenges including security in the cloud have become prominent barriers to adoption. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Majed Saadi, Director of the Cloud Computing Practice at SRA International, will focus on providing a quick Cloud Computing technology update with an emphasis on current Cloud Computing security trends and drivers. Examples of these trends include: the utilization and evaluation of Clouds in both active and passive surveillance systems and the use of High Performance Clouds for expanding scientist ability to access data. He will also introduces best practices and lessons learned for securing both public and private cloud environments. It offers insight into how Cloud Computing coupled with other technical advancements i...
Feb. 24, 2014 09:45 AM EST Reads: 2,366
With Windows Server 2003 end of extended support approaching, enterprises must begin their migration planning for all affected production applications. There are a variety of approaches and many people will take a “mix and match” approach. Whatever the approach, it’s important to have a migration plan now – 200 business days goes by quickly when some applications take weeks to migrate. This is the perfect opportunity to move those applications to the Cloud. There’s a way to move your applications and modernize (move to the cloud) at the same time.
Feb. 23, 2014 11:30 AM EST Reads: 1,776
Software development, like engineering, is a craft that requires the application of creative approaches to solve problems given a wide range of constraints. However, while engineering design may be craftwork, the production of most designed objects relies on a standardized and automated manufacturing process. By contrast, much of what's typically involved when moving an application from prototype to production and, indeed, maintaining the application through its lifecycle remains craftwork.
Feb. 22, 2014 01:30 PM EST Reads: 1,894
Are you re-creating existing technology silos in the cloud? If so, your entire enterprise investment in the cloud is at risk. From the perspective of IT, organizational silos seem to be the root of all problems. Every line of business, every department, every functional area has its own requirements, its own technology preferences, and its own way of doing things. They have historically invested in specialized components for narrow purposes, which IT must then conventionally integrate via application middleware – increasing the cost, complexity, and brittleness of the overall architecture. Now those same stakeholders want to move to the cloud. Save money with SaaS apps! Reduce data center costs with IaaS! Build a single private cloud we can all share! But breaking down the technical silos is easier said than done. There are endless problems: Static interfaces. Legacy technology. Inconsistent policies, rules, and processes. Crusty old middleware that predates the cloud. And everybod...
Feb. 21, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,120
Recent high-profile events (2010 Haitian Earthquake, 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda) have highlighted the growing importance played by the international community in successful humanitarian assistance and disaster response. These events also showcased the critical importance of quickly providing robust information technology resources to response effort participants. In June 2010, in support of its continuing effort to foster international collaboration, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) initiated a dialog with the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) to discuss this and other aspects of geospatial data information-sharing across the international community. In response to this request the NCOIC through the use of a cloud services brokerage paradigm, built and demonstrated a federated cloud computing infrastructure capable of managing the electronic exchange of geospatial data. The effort also led to the development of ...
Feb. 21, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 2,179
Cloud computing is changing our world, sharing common platforms for global information exchange. Self-service computing makes the Internet come alive, helping users visualize and analyze location-aware information. Configurable applications deliver a solution framework for integration, collaboration, and efficiency. Cloud-based applications integrate and synthesize information from many sources, facilitating communication and collaboration, and breaking down barriers between institutions, disciplines, and cultures. Online platforms enable real-time access from everyone. Web connectivity provides a common information source, elaborating, collaborating, and sharing holistic approaches for content awareness.
Feb. 18, 2014 09:15 AM EST Reads: 1,924
Although PaaS is new, it's rapidly gaining momentum, with growth projected at 48 percent annually by Technavio, the research firm, and topping $6 billion in value by 2016. If PaaS is treated as a strategic opportunity to align agendas across IT and across the business, it may well prove to be a ʺonce in a generationʺ opportunity to clarify, improve, and strengthen everything developers do. As with any new technology or approach to doing business, PaaS will appeal to different groups for different reasons. The clear business value is that PaaS is added at the application layer. For ISVs, PaaS can help extend the availability of a traditional software product or enable organizations to add new capabilities to their existing IT spectrum. It's also helpful to anyone wishing to achieve productivity gains, speed time to results, or reduce their costs. But like any technological shift, PaaS adoption requires changes in how people work and demands collaboration if it is to be as successful as...
Feb. 17, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 2,899
This first person “in the trenches” enterprise Public Cloud story candidly examines the project from inception to delivery. Attendees will hear first-hand the real-world challenges, opportunities, lessons-learned, and what it takes to architect and implement a real-world application in the public cloud. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Brian McCallion, founder of New York City-based consultancy Bronze Drum, will focus on the organizational, cultural, and technical hurdles to designing and implementing a strategic application in the Public Cloud in a regulated industry.
Feb. 17, 2014 08:45 AM EST Reads: 1,740