Understanding how applications perform in the real world is a growing aspect of the digital economy – and an area with an abundance of acronyms. In this market, Aternity occupies an interesting position, which we discussed recently with Mike Marks, the company’s Chief Product Evangelist.
First of all, the acronyms. APM stands for Application Performance Management, (often, the word Monitoring is used instead of Management.) APM alone is estimated as a $2.7 billion market as of 2014, growing to $5 billion by 2019 (Gartner Group estimate.) A broader phrase, which encompasses APM, is EUEM, End User Experience Monitoring.
The difference between APM and EUEM is key to understanding Aternity. Basic APM software can observe and measure how an application is performing: e.g., crash analytics, app error reporting, service performance metrics, and data consumption tracking. EUEM, however, gets at not just how the app is performing as a piece of software, but what is the user experience.
Not A Traditional APM Company
While Aternity uses APM as a reference point, it regards itself as an EUEM company, not a “traditional” APM provider. Marks gives an example of the difference: Take an app for a telecom customer service person, where the company sets a metric that the customer account lookup should take not more than 10 seconds. Aternity’s software can determine if the employees are actually hitting that target. In other words, they can provide information about the usefulness of the app in a work function or process.
Aternity sums up this difference on its website: “Aternity closes the visibility gap between your workforce’s actual user experience and what traditional APM tools tell you about the application components, transactions, and the code that supports them.”
To a certain extent APM companies also can be labeled as EUEM companies, since, if you identify that an app is not performing well and correct it, that will enhance the user experience.
However, Aternity is looking at three streams of data: 1) information about the device’s performance; 2) what the user is doing, and 3) information about the user and his/her job. They coordinate data from the three streams and allow the company to set baselines for performance by employees.
Setting Job Performance Baselines
Marks uses the example of a bank with offices in a large city, but also in a remote rural area. “Since the rural area may have limited transmission bandwidth, the bank can set the baseline for completing a transaction there differently.” As another example, they may also set different baselines when a WiFi connection is used as opposed to their internal network.
The Aternity software contains “a rich set of analytics,” he states, so that the user can observe, for example, whether the app performance is meeting its SLAs (service level agreements) as well as the worker productivity.
Aternity Business Model
Aternity’s products are aimed at three constituencies – IT departments, LOBs (lines of business) and apps developers. The company sells to global 2000 enterprises, with its geographic focus to date in the U.S. and a growing number of countries in Western Europe. They currently have about 140 employees.
The service can run on a company’s inhouse servers, or Aternity will host. They typically charge a license fee based on the number of endpoints monitored. Aternity finds that the average individual user uses three devices. Marks estimates that their typical account will cover about 10,000 devices.
Differences In Mobile Vs. Non-Mobile Device Apps Monitoring
APM systems monitor apps, whether mobile or web-based, one at a time. They instrument the apps for developers or IT personnel and send trouble notifications if the app performance is lagging. The monitors can dive into the backend delivery system, analyze the components, find the lines of code that are causing the problem and correct it.
Aternity solves a different problem. Their capabilities are actually used along with APM vendors’ systems. The company even often markets to enterprise customers in cooperation with leading APM companies, such as Dynatrace, AppDynamics and CA Technologies.
Aternity monitors user experience from the perspective of the user device. With non-mobile apps, their agent lives on the end user device, which may be a desktop or VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) device. They monitor performance of all apps – e.g., response time the user sees, how long it takes to complete a task, such as executing a trade, or how long it takes to install a new line of code. They are analyzing productivity use cases.
Mobile, however, presents differences from non-mobile devices. With mobile, the end user typically owns the device. They can’t install an agent on the mobile devices. They can’t instrument the device, so like the APM vendors, they instrument the app, with either an SDK or wrapper. (The company states, “The Aternity Mobile Wrapper enables mobile apps to be instrumented for diagnostics and user interactions, without requiring access to the code or an app developer, with no loss of monitoring functionality.”) They obtain performance diagnostics – such as crash data, but also data on work functions – on any apps owned by corporate IT. The individual device identity information can be derived from an LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) directory or device registry of the enterprise.
Dealing With BYOD – APM/EUEM & MDM/MAM
Where does APM and EUEM fit into the larger scheme of how enterprises are dealing with mobile and the BYOD (bring your own device) phenomenon? Marks observes that MDM (mobile device management) manages devices and MAM (mobile application management) secures and manages apps. The next logical step is to measure how well the mobile apps are actually performing on the mobile devices. A company can measure how well the mobile app is performing in the field and determine if it actually results in improved productivity over its desktop or non-cloud based (server-based) alternatives.
Aternity’s mobile app has been integrated to work with a number of MDM/MAM provider products including: Citrix XenMobile; Mobile Iron; and Good Technology’s, Good Mobile Service Management. (Good has recently agreed to be acquired by Blackberry.)
Aternity has already established its high level of functionality, able to monitor any app, including SaaS apps across any device – mobile or other. As a recent Gartner report stated about Aternity: “Aternity uses advanced, real-time analytics and the ability to monitor any application (including SaaS applications), regardless of whether the application is used on a PC, virtual device, tablet or mobile phone. [W]e see this as a unique tool that provides clients with the ability to internally monitor the performance of providers to include software as a service offerings from vendors” (Gartner Cool Vendors in Vendor Management, 2015.)
Future Opportunities & Outlook
Moreover another intriguing aspect of EUEM/APM is the sheer amount of data being collected and the potential uses of it. One of the leading APM providers, CA Technologies, states that on average their APM customers collect “43 million metrics per day.” This leads naturally to thinking about the possible additional uses of all of this data. Examples might be fraud detection or risk and compliance analysis. Marks cites a situation with a bank which found that an employee at a remote location was engaging in intensive lookups of customer accounts that were not in the scope of his duties. A theft of bank records was thereby uncovered.
Marks informed us that the company has been growing revenues at about a 40% annual clip. He believes that they are at an inflection point in gaining market acceptance. He states, “We are focused on making implementation faster, making the analytic information more readily consumable and making it easier to see the benefits.” He told us that the company expects to have significant new product news in the next month.
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