Dell Software Shines a Brighter Light on Transactions

Dell Software announced the release of a solution that enables IT administrators to see each step of a transaction, to better understand end users' experiences with applications. Foglight APM 5.9 is intended to help managers see exact execution paths and other details through the entire application stack – from the code and middleware all the way down through the operating system and hypervisor.

Foglight APM is designed for application support personnel – people who need insight into what is happening with their application – everything from all the end user interactions with the application combined with all the application execution and the underlying infrastructure, John Newsom, executive director for application performance monitoring at Dell Software, tells 5 Minute Briefing. 

The best measure of application delivery is the end-user experience, and Foglight APM offers a holistic view that interaction, says Newsom. This includes every aspect of end users' interactions, helping IT personnel better understand why something is going wrong. “They are the ones that do the first-level triage to determine if it is a code problem or an infrastructure problem, then direct the proper team to drill down and find the root of the problem.” The solution also provides business-level perspectives on those applications.

“We have full visibility into the content of what the user is doing – not just the performance details,” says Newsom. This can be critical for example in an e-commerce application in order to enable IT personnel to determine through information such as dollar values in a shopping cart how critical a transaction is to the business, he points out.

This release of Foglight APM has several main themes, says Newsom. One is what the company calls “customer-centric APM.” “We are pulling together a very tight coupling between the user and their interaction with the application and all the other details of application execution,” says Newsom. “This is extremely valuable for external-facing applications, whether it is something to do with a customer support function or selling products online.”

Another key aspect of the release is what the company is calling Transaction DNA. “That is a huge aspect of this release. We are really making the transaction – what the user does – the centerpiece of the APM solution, the centerpiece of how you understand what is going on, and everything we do is in context of that transaction now.”

The Transaction DNA technology delivers a data model that uses transactions as the framework for unifying disparate sources of IT data for dashboards, visualizations and analysis. All application layer traces are linked back to the end user and their associated session activity. “This helps IT operate in a way that is relevant to the business people they are supporting. It is the meaningful part of what this application is actually delivering.  We not only see the transaction but we see the actual nodes that the transactions flow across and we can tell you how much time is spent on the parts of the path of execution – and then we can correlate all of that back to the exact user session, and what the user did. You can see the full context of what happened in the transaction.”

The release also provides new “funnel” analysis of multi-step transactions that links directly back to data, to provide technical evidence for the impact on business transaction completion rates from factors such as web design and performance. The new software also includes interactive pre-defined page content analysis with breakdown by location, browser and content type to surface common attributes of application performance slowdowns and errors.

In addition, a new Transaction Trace Repository for storage and analysis of high volume, high granularity data is designed to address the big data problem in APM by capturing all performance and content details for every click by every web user. A turnkey appliance – either physical or virtual – provides a single point of management that scales to support the largest user volumes.

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