Network application monitoring: what’s in a NAMe?

You may already have heard: Dynatrace Data Center Real User Monitoring (DC RUM) will now be known as Dynatrace Network Application Monitoring (Dynatrace NAM). In the coming days and weeks, you’ll hear more, and I wanted to add some context to the change.

What’s behind the name change?

We’re at an exciting turning point on the product roadmap as we shift from a DC RUM solution, supporting a portfolio of largely stand-alone use cases, to a set of network application monitoring capabilities extending Dynatrace’s reach within the enterprise. While we’ve had multiple levels of product integration for some time, this shift will see wire data-sourced insights integrated more comprehensively into Dynatrace.

It’s now time to sharpen our focus on NAM use cases that are complementary to Dynatrace. We believe that agent and API monitoring will most effectively cover the core of the data center, the private, hybrid and public clouds. Probe-based monitoring – Dynatrace NAM – remains critical to address use cases at the edge of the data center; these include user experience for all applications, network impact on application performance, and network services discovery and monitoring. It is here where wire data most effectively extends Dynatrace’s visibility to provide new and complementary value.

Dynatrace NAM will continue to focus on applications, with an emphasis on how the network – especially the WAN – influences user experience. While there often appears to be significant overlap between traditional NPM tools and Dynatrace NAM, our goal is to provide the application visibility insights network teams require to earn a more equitable seat the table where business and IT meet.

While we’re at it…

At the same time, we can reduce confusion and overlap by articulating our capabilities with greater clarity.

  • The new name provides clearer differentiation between Dynatrace RUM and network application monitoring. Over the years, DC RUM has pioneered wire data-based real user monitoring, and Dynatrace NAM will continue to lead the market in meaningful and actionable user experience measurements for all applications – web and non-web.
  • The term “network application” often carries the connotation of network services – such as DNS, LDAP, SMB, etc.. These are services well-suited to monitoring through wire data. They’re also ubiquitous, operational prerequisites for all your business applications such as SAP, Siebel, Oracle, PeopleSoft, JDEdwards, and more, which remain a core focus for NAM.
  • The WAN – traditional, hybrid, optimized, software-defined – is becoming increasingly complex, and the old NPM-oriented approaches don’t cut it in this application-centric world. Today’s wide-area networks may be software-defined, optimized, fitted with strong encryption, overlaid with Citrix as an application delivery technology; the new name better reflects our wide-area network focus. Dynatrace NAM is not, however, an NPM tool, just as NPM tools are not application or user experience monitors.

Technical drivers

In a recent blog, I pointed out some of the technical factors and trends that combine to push network probes to the edge of the data center; we’ve factored these in to our product strategy. To summarize:

  • Flattened and micro-segmented data center network architectures coupled with high-density virtualization and increasing dynamism obscure aggregation points and make access to wire data difficult.
  • Software agents and API instrumentation provide comprehensive application and host visibility to a degree wire data could never approach.
  • WAN problem patterns differ significantly from data center network problem patterns; the former often result in degraded performance, while the latter may result in application outages.
  • WAN latencies are multiple orders of magnitude greater than LAN latencies, while WAN bandwidth can be a fraction of data center LAN bandwidth. These result in more “interesting” high-value problem patterns visible at the edge of the data center.
  • Active “network” appliances – virtual or physical – can have considerable influence on application performance, often mimicking the behavior of application servers. At the same time, they’re considered part of the abstract end-to-end network, thus benefiting from a wire-data monitoring perspective.
  • The number of WAN access points to your data center – and therefore the number of probe points – is relatively small. Often, these points already have access to wire data through network packet brokers, making the addition of a performance monitoring probe quite simple.

Some things never change

We will, of course, continue to support important existing use cases; these are especially relevant to what we sometimes refer to as “packaged applications” or enterprise apps of record. Often, these applications run on proprietary platforms where agents don’t fit; at the same time, they don’t suffer from the same virtualization and dynamism experienced elsewhere. In fact, we see some customers successfully “lift and shift” these apps to the cloud – along with Dynatrace NAM.

Stay tuned for more exciting news.

Gary is a Subject Matter Expert in Network Performance Analytics at Dynatrace, responsible for Dynatrace NAM’s technical marketing programs. He is a co-inventor of multiple performance analysis features and continues to champion the value of network performance analytics. He is the author of Network Application Performance Analysis (WalrusInk, 2014).

Looking for answers?

Start a new discussion or ask for help in our Q&A forum.

Go to forum