More Sources, Less Problems

I was asked to spend a few days in Las Vegas this week talking with a bunch of shared AppDynamics and ServiceNow customers at their #AppSphere16 show. During the show they announced an integration with the ServiceNow platform that generated a palpable buzz. This integration allows health rule violations to be sent to the Event Management engine in ServiceNow providing another data source to better understand the overall health of a business service. More sources, less problems.

Infrastructure monitoring tools like Solarwinds or SCOM are already natively supported on the platform and feeding alerts to the Event Management dashboard. The robust APIs that ServiceNow exposes extends the capabilities to any source in the environment. That’s exactly what the AppDynamics team exploited and I hope to see more and more of these integrations from other partners in the ecosystem soon. I spent a lot of time in the booth with Abey Tom during the show to better understand what was required to make this integration work. He told me that he spent about 8 weeks from start to finish getting the integration completed and this process required him to first learn about the way ServiceNow handles alerts, relationships, CMDB, and the APIs themselves. He also mentioned that this initial learning process was the heaviest lift and the last couple weeks were spent completing the actual integration. Pretty awesome to get something this robust in just a couple weeks!

The value for both of our customers lies in how the integration extends the CMDB and enriches the view of business services. When the flow maps are dismantled into their requisite components they are added to their own table and their relationships are mapped out in ServiceNow. These relationships within the business service are critical in helping troubleshoot when there are issues impacting the service, but they are also critical in proactively understanding what a change to a component of the service will impact. The flow maps are focused on the transactions that flow within a particular business service and ServiceNow extends this view to the relationships between services across the entire IT landscape. The flow maps are also looking at a business service in a different way than we typically do with a Service Map. It is designed to understand how a business transaction moves through the application stack and the components that make it up such as the JVM, or the database. ServiceNow brings the additional detail around the infrastructure components that host this application stack and provide a platform to understand the not just the critical components that are typically being monitored with AppDynamics, but the entire business service.

The other, and personally my favorite part of the integration is with the ServiceNow event management engine. By sending alerts configured by the health rules, you can more proactively manage your business service health and eliminate more of the noise that comes from having multiple tools. Our example at the show pivoted around a disk read error that was being reported on a database system in the application stack. AppDynamics saw this as a violation of a baseline threshold and reports that data to ServiceNow, while Splunk saw this as an alert in a log and also reported that to ServiceNow. Independently, those two alerts would require the teams to begin hunting for the root cause and sleuthing their way up and down the application stack. The server admin knows that he is having an issue, but he isn’t certain what that issue is. The application owner knows performance is degraded, but has no idea what the cause of the degradation is. With this integration, but alerts are now being tied together in ServiceNow and an event rule is able to determine that the primary alert that needs to be actionable and worked is the disk read error. That incident ticket is automatically created and routed to the server admin with supporting data that includes knowledge-base articles and possibly even automated remediation steps. The application owner is now automatically notified that the cause of the performance issue is identified and being worked and any other alerts that are being created are all rolling up under this incident. Without all of that correlation and automation there would simply be a large volume of out of context alerts all pouring in from interfaces all over the NOC. This visibility is the power of the platform. Pure and simple.

Feedback from our customers was overwhelming. This is something they have all been asking for and no one even asked how much it cost because the value was so incredible. It’s free by the way. Just login to the store and download it. Yes…free! The thing that stood out the most in the conversations I had was the maturity that the end users had with AppDynamics. They have put a lot of effort into configuring the health rules and building the flow maps and now that effort can immediately be leveraged in the ServiceNow platform. IT folks tend to love their tools and this love makes it hard to coexist with peers sometimes. “Nobody’s tool is as good as mine”, you may hear. But this integration helps everyone bypass these concerns. Love your tool. Just send me the data so that we can ALL love your tool. If everyone can bring their tools data to the same common table then we can finally get out of our own way and get back to driving more innovation.

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