Cisco’s AppDynamics software ties in SDN, serverless for greater app management

Cisco’s AppDynamics software ties in SDN, serverless for greater app management

Cisco AppDynamics Central Nervous System leans on machine learning, AI for app performance management

Cisco’s AppDynamics business rolled out a raft of enterprise technologies it says will help customers better manage everything from software-defined networks and serverless computing environments to application performance.

The wide-ranging announcement – easily AppDynamics largest technology upgrade since being acquired by Cisco two years ago – targets enterprise customers looking to monitor performance and automate the response to  problems in business applications. 

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The rollout included key components such as a Cognition Engine that will be the basis for future automation and Artificial Intelligence-based application performance management and the integration of AppDynamics application monitoring tools and Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technology to help customers mix application health and network operations management in the data center and multicloud environments.

The complexity of the technology landscape today makes it difficult for customers to gain deep visibility into how applications are affecting the business, said Thomas Wyatt, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at AppDynamics. “The need for automation and the insights artificial intelligence and machine learning can bring to ensure applications, no matter where they are located, are performing and delivering what customers expect are key drivers of what we will be delivering.”

AppDynamics calls its new, overarching application performance platform the Central Nervous System for IT.  Key components of that plan will include the aforementioned Cognition Engine, AppDynamics for ACI support and a Serverless Agent for AWS Lambda environments. ACI is Cisco’s overarching software-defined networking (SDN) technology for data center automation and management across on-premises and cloud networks.

In a nutshell, AppDynamics says the Cognition Engine uses machine learning and AI technology it gleaned from Cisco’s purchase of Perspica in 2017.  It will integrate myriad metrics collected from the company’s current APM system including its ApplicationIQ and BusinessIQ packages to develop event patterns and a baseline of what application performance should be.  From there it can spot deviations, automate anomaly detection, reduce problem resolution time and offer root-cause analysis.   

appdynamics cognition engine slide 1 Cisco AppDynamics

Cisco AppDnamics Cognition Engine

The idea is to utilize that anomaly detection information to spark automated problem remediation, trouble-ticket creation and actions that can solve app performance problems in real time, the company says.

In addition, Wyatt said that Cisco and AppDynamics are building the Central Nervous System for IT as an extensible, open platform that works with third-party systems as well. 

It’s impossible for IT professionals to sift through the millions of metrics and events that are continually streaming in, Wyatt said. By ingesting data from every domain and using machine learning to correlate and analyze in real time, the Central Nervous System produces insights that save countless troubleshooting hours and shift attention to improving customer experience and business results.

Another key AppDynamics play is the integration of Cisco’s ACI data. “AppDynamics customers have been looking forward to ACI integration to get deeper into the network data and use the single repository as a single source of truth for analyzing performance data,” said Stephen Elliot, program vice president with IDC.

“Customer can for the first time integrate and correlate telemetry from the network with application performance data to gain insight into problems that might affect performance or bring down the network,” Wyatt said. “The relationship between network and application has been a very black box activity – the network and applications team speak a different language – but now you can see how a change to a network policy on one end of the network can impact the performance of applications on another. Customers can make fact-based remediation decisions rather than guessing where a problem is occurring.”

Other analysts agreed.  “This gets the network talking to the application, and anything that streamlines that activity is a good start,” said Lee Doyle, principal analyst at Doyle Research.  “What Cisco and AppDynamics are talking about here actually helps customers solve application-performance problems faster.”

The other component of Cisco’s announcement was a Serverless Agent for Amazon Web Service Lambda.   AWS says that Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers.  With the AppDynamics agent customers can monitor and manage Lambda functions like any other part of their application environment.  

“The AppDynamics additions show Cisco is executing on software development and investing into the business unit.  It drives customer trust that Cisco will continue to expand software investments and serve this important customer segment,” IDC’s Elliot said.  “AppDynamics customers want Cisco to do these things, and they certainly want Cisco to continue to focus on performance management and analytics as a corporate theme.”  

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