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Compuware Dynatrace split means big things for APM vendor

Dynatrace says it's ready to move APM from the IT trenches to the executive suite.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dynatrace used its 2014 user conference as a platform to assure customers that it will continue...

to be a leader in the application performance management (APM) business as it undergoes new ownership.

"We will be more open with pricing, more open with expertise, more open with benchmark data and you will find us to be more accessible and easier to do business with than ever before," said Dynatrace General Manager John Van Siclen, adding that the vendor acquired 720 new customers in 2014, bringing the overall total of commercial users to just under 5,800.

Dynatrace is going back to its roots as part of a strategy by San Francisco-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo LLC, which is spending $2.5 billion to acquire Dynatrace's parent, Compuware Corp., in a transaction slated to close early next year. Executives have wasted little time to realign the company and divest businesses no longer considered essential. One of the first steps they took was to split the APM business from Compuware's legacy mainframe services, jettisoning the old Compuware APM moniker in favor of the Dynatrace brand.

Thoma Bravo's capital and management expertise will fuel new investments in technology and marketing, Van Siclen said, enabling Dynatrace to become a "more agile and nimble business."

Compuware Dynatrace split ushering in new products designed to fortify portfolio

To that end, Dynatrace will offer some new products, chief among them APM tools developed by Ruxit, a Waltham, Mass., startup funded by Compuware. Ruxit's software allows companies to monitor their cloud-based applications and it features an artificial intelligence component that details steps users should take to solve application performance problems.

Van Siclen said new the new Ruxit technology, in combination with upgrades to Dynatrace's Application Monitoring and User Experience Management products, will give Dynatrace customers the ammunition they need to make APM a "business catalyst."

Everyone has to know they own performance.
Gopal BrugaletteNordstrom

"More of your revenue and brand image happens online," he said. "We have an opportunity together to actually go from being an IT catalyst, with performance management being the tool we use down in the bowels of IT, to being a business catalyst, because you will have the information at your fingertips."

Jason Bloomberg, who covers APM as CEO of Boston-area consultancy Intellyx LLC, said Dynatrace's fortunes will depend on whether the company will be able to capitalize on its independence and how innovations like Ruxit will mesh with the company's other product lines. "By all indications, customers are reasonably happy with the Dynatrace product line as well as the strategic direction of the company."

Applications, he added, are now end-to-end platforms, which encompass websites with multiple third-party elements and complex back ends, so they all have to be working in sync. "APM is really shifting, broadly speaking. Dynatrace doesn't want to be an old guard [APM provider]. They want to be a big fish in a new pond."

Using website data to underpin business analytics

At presentations and sessions, Dynatrace trumpeted the results customers -- including Neiman Marcus, Great American Insurance Group and Humana Inc. -- have gotten from deploying APM tools within their operations.

James Carra, hosting operations manager at Volkswagen Group of America (VGA), said the automaker's use of APM software will allow it to exploit data it is receiving from users accessing its VW.com website. The company used Dynatrace's APM as a service (APMaaS) product to help it avoid performance problems when it relaunched the consumer-facing website earlier this year.

"We could see where customers are coming from and the experience they were getting," he said, citing an experiment VGA conducted with a small sample of its Web visitors. "We could also see what they look at on the site … maybe the Jetta or Golf or other popular models that people look for," he said. In addition, VGA was able to track user requests for additional information, something it wasn't able to do through software anchoring the old website.

Dynatrace adds features to core apps

Dynatrace released upgrades to both its Application Monitoring and User Experience Management applications, beefing up the software's ability to diagnose problems and deliver business analytics.

The new capabilities include new agent setup wizards, auto-instrumentation for iOS applications and a new architecture designed to capture data more quickly and with less overhead. In addition, the software features support for Swift and a real-time visibility dashboard to enable users to determine the impact on application performance during peak events.

Dynatrace also unveiled Performance Test, a free online service that allows companies to analyze their websites' performance data from the perspective of mobile and Web users. The test then compares their experience to Dynatrace benchmark data.

Performance Test provides users with a series of metrics, including response time breakdown and an analysis that discloses those website components best suited for optimization.

In addition to the APMaaS application, VGA uses other Dynatrace applications, including DC-RUM, to support services like its dealer portal and Car-Net, its mobile app for VW owners. "The idea of extending the same monitoring to the cloud allowed us to learn similar things we learned early on with the dealer application, whether it was a capacity concern or database queuing," Carra said. With Car-Net, for example, Dynatrace illuminated the sheer number of third-party applications the service relied on. "We had to find ways to find out when [the third-party applications] were having problems. With the data center, we had control over everything and full visibility and we wanted that same thing [for Car-Net]." Ultimately, Dynatrace engineers provided that visibility by segmenting services and then performing synthetic tests to gauge performance.

"It's the third-party stuff that we didn't have eyes on beforehand that we had to figure out how to work," Carra said.

Nordstrom using APM to narrow gap between virtual, physical shopping

Nordstrom Inc., meanwhile, is using APM to support its marketing and branding efforts. The retailer has implemented Dynatrace as part of its bid to merge its digital and traditional shopping to create a single Nordstrom experience, said Gopal Brugalette, the company's performance engineering architect.

"We're using technology to enable our salespeople to help our customers better," he said, citing existing Web-based tools such as mobile point-of-sales systems, digital notebooks and mobile fulfillment applications. The retailer has also tested virtual dressing rooms, and it built an engine to provide recommendations for online shoppers.

"We have to learn fast and adapt," Brugalette said. Dynatrace anchors Nordstrom's preproduction environment, where the technology reveals "exactly where the issues are and where the issues aren't."

"And when we fix it we know it's fixed."

Before using Dynatrace, Nordstrom had to test new applications multiple times to ensure they worked as engineered. "With Dynatrace, we have that confidence that we know it's going to perform," Brugalette said.

As business becomes more competitive, "everyone has to know they own performance," he said. "As part of a cultural shift, especially for IT folks, you have to realize that your job doesn't end in the performance lab. Performance engineering continues in production, and you have to do the analytics."

Next Steps

Network-based APM makes inroads

Vendor strategies differ

APM in the cloud

Dig Deeper on Network Performance Management

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