Most Internet-centric organizations today use some form of APM tools, as they should. But they are insufficient.
Over the last ten years, the world has completely changed.
If you think about it, in the first decade of this millennium, most businesses had an Exchange server, maybe Siebel CRM, a file share, and a range of other business apps, usually hosted in the same building. Everything was on the LAN.
Today, it is the exact opposite. Everything is distributed. Applications are either SaaS or hosted in multiple datacenters or cloud locations and applications themselves have dozens or hundreds of dependencies. Even the workforce is distributed.
Combine this with the complexity and fragility of the Internet – and the result is that most IT operations teams are blind to what happens on the Internet. They need new solutions that give them the visibility they need to understand, monitor, fix, and optimize their Internet stack.
Introducing Internet Performance Monitoring
Internet Performance Monitoring (IPM) is a new generation of solutions that provide deep visibility into every aspect of the Internet that impacts your business. IPM tools will become essential for any organization that requires a resilient Internet to operate – which, let’s face it, is pretty much everyone out there.
While APM tools focus on code, IPM focuses on the network. While APM tries to look at everything that impacts an application (database wait times, inefficient code, resource bottlenecks), IPM looks at everything that impacts the customer, workforce, application (or API) experience over the Internet.
Synthetics, RUM, and performance profiling are tools in the IPM and APM arsenals, but in IPM, they are used very differently to how APM tools use them. For example, most APM tools have synthetic agents in the cloud. APM monitors from cloud to cloud, which is useful when optimizing an application, but useless when monitoring and optimizing customer or workforce experience. Simply because customers and employees do not access systems from the cloud, but rather from a laptop in the suburbs, a mobile device (using a wireless carrier) on the road, or a tablet via an ISP in their local coffee shop.
Compare this to an IPM solution like Catchpoint, with thousands of monitoring vantage points across the globe combined with the capacity to see inside ISPs, wireless carriers, BGP ASNs, and indeed, across every part of the core-to-edge of the Internet. Only an IPM tool can explain the difference in experience between a user connecting via Verizon in Boston on a Cloudflare CDN versus a user connecting using T-Mobile broadband in Frankfurt on a Fastly CDN.
On the Internet, slow is the new down. Therefore, IPM looks at performance, reachability, and uptime. In fact, we think about Internet Resilience as the combination of four key factors: availability, reachability, performance, and reliability.
“We live in a world where networks matter, everything you do touches the Internet in some form of fashion. What Catchpoint was able to do is to give us that full picture of the Internet, it’s like our NexRad for our customers” – Jeremy Brooks, Sr Director Customer Success, Equinix
APM and observability
What is APM useful for? Understanding software applications and any issues or bottlenecks... Analyst research would say application tracing, discovery and diagnostics. Most APM platforms offer RUM to measure end-user experience, and like most monitoring tools, they offer dashboards, alerts and reporting (duh!).
APM is a mature market. It probably started in the 90’s with Precise and later AppDynamics and Dynatrace. Now Splunk, Datadog and many others have also built APM capabilities.
Fewer than ten years ago, a number of APM vendors combined RUM, logs, metrics, and APM into what became some of the first ‘Observability’ solutions in the market. They provided multiple points of view that could be correlated to more accurately pinpoint issues in the application stack.
The definition of Observability has since evolved into a form of monitoring that shows not only that there is a problem, but full context into the complete system of what the impact is of the problem and what needs to be fixed. Thus, IPM has also evolved into an observability solution, but with a very different focus from the observability platforms focused on APM.
APM and IPM working together
Catchpoint is arguably the first IPM solution on the market. Without a doubt, it is the most advanced IPM solution with the deepest and broadest visibility and the most flexible analysis and diagnostics engine.
So, when someone asked me recently how do you compete with Dynatrace? I told them we don’t, and that they must be confused. Let’s talk about what you are trying to solve for to determine which one is the right tool. They are complementary, and that they must be confused.
For example, SAP uses Catchpoint to ensure Internet resilience and their customers’ experience for the SAP Commerce Cloud (formerly Hybris) which powers some of the leading online retail sites in the world. Like many other companies, they use APM to ensure their application stack runs well, and IPM to ensure their Internet stack runs well.
"Catchpoint can observe from the site, the Internet, and multiple observers. Because of this, we know exactly from where a site is slow, from which region a problem originates, or whether customers, for example, have stuff like content delivery networks (CDNs) implemented. We can also give our customers and ourselves the best visibility into the commerce sites." Martin Norato Auer, VP of Customer Experience Observability and Automation Foundations, SAP Customer Experience
IPM is the technology - and skillset - network engineers need
We are in the last stages of the evolution from the LAN to WAN. For over a decade, network engineers developed deeply rooted skills in configuring and managing routers and switches. Modern companies might not have a switch, or a router, or indeed, a LAN at all. And if they do, it will not be as important as it was five years ago and will certainly not be as important as the Internet.
The modern network engineer needs IPM tools and needs to develop IPM skills. The good news is that here at Catchpoint, we have been working on both for the last 14 years. Here are a few resources to get stuck in (all available un-gated with no registration form):
- The Comprehensive Guide to BGP - https://www.catchpoint.com/asset/the-comprehensive-guide-to-bgp
- Essential CDN Monitoring for Digital-First Companies – https://www.catchpoint.com/asset/essential-cdn-monitoring
- Troubleshooting Network Protocols in a Complex Digital Environment https://www.catchpoint.com/asset/troubleshooting-network-protocols-in-a-complex-digital-environment
- The Network Admin’s Guide to Synthetic Monitoring https://www.catchpoint.com/network-admin-guide
- Online Guide to Dynamic Routing Protocols https://www.catchpoint.com/dynamic-routing-protocols
- Online Guide to BGP Monitoring https://www.catchpoint.com/bgp-monitoring