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IT pros offered burgeoning choices in full-stack monitoring

APM and infrastructure monitoring vendors are crossing over, and an industry bellwether modernizes with an acquisition -- all to give enterprise IT shops a clearer view of ops.

IT pros don't need to look far to find vendors touting a one-stop shop for all their monitoring needs.

Full-stack monitoring is seeing a new wave of product expansions and industry acquisitions, and users who find the end-to-end platform approach to visualizing the IT environment appealing have no shortage of products to investigate.

Application performance management (APM) vendors New Relic Inc. and AppDynamics have expanded further into infrastructure monitoring already this year. And this week, infrastructure monitoring service Datadog has said it will get into the APM space, with a new offering just released into public beta. Meanwhile, CA Technologies, a seasoned heavyweight in IT monitoring, acquired BlazeMeter to appeal to DevOps pros implementing continuous delivery.

"The idea is to have one console where you can see all of the environment together, rather than having to swivel and switch between different monitoring tools to get at the cause of a problem," said Nancy Gohring, analyst with 451 Research.

Still, especially at the start, the products' strong suit will be in their original approach to the market -- for example, Datadog's strength has been in infrastructure monitoring and sophisticated analytics, Gohring said.

Datadog learns new tricks

Datadog may be the new kid on the block in APM, but for at least one infrastructure monitoring customer, the company's APM approach offers some things competitors don't.

New Relic and Datadog both offer granular monitoring down to the transaction level, but take different approaches to how they generate and display the data, said Cory Watson, software engineer for Stripe, an online payments company in San Francisco. New Relic provides aggregates -- called rollups -- of data on a minute-by-minute basis, while Datadog allows IT pros to specify which traces to track. New Relic presents the slowest transactions for each minute; Datadog is customizable in what it shows.

The two are equally sound, Watson said, but will appeal to different shops, according to their individual needs. For Stripe, customizing traces for a custom-built, multilanguage environment wins out over a ready-made product.

"We're building a lot of these things ourselves, using tools that maybe other people don't use, so it's important to be able to interoperate with those systems," Watson said. "That's where Datadog does very well, because they don't just provide you with an agent; they provide you with an agent and a specification that you can implement yourself."

However, Stripe hasn't decided if it will put Datadog's APM into production. The company's engineers are also looking at a standalone tracing company, called LightStep Inc., among others.

"It's still very much a beta, and they're continuing to iterate on it," Watson said.

CA refreshes full-stack monitoring portfolio with BlazeMeter buy

Also this week, CA Technologies acquired open source-based continuous application performance testing software maker BlazeMeter for an undisclosed sum in an effort to appeal to a rapidly shifting DevOps audience.

As with its younger counterparts, CA and its big enterprise competitors IBM, BMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise offered the end-to-end platform approach, 451's Gohring said. But BlazeMeter has captured a strong audience among modern enterprises that made it a tempting treat for an acquirer such as CA, boasting customers that include Disney, the NFL, Wal-Mart, KPMG, Sony, Target, BT, Tesla Motors and Mattel.

"Buying BlazeMeter would be about bringing CA's performance-testing tools into the modern development environment, where developers are trying to incorporate testing earlier in the development process, rather than doing it last, where it acts as a gate," she said.

Both CA and Datadog have a window of opportunity with this market, as continuous testing is not yet widespread among IT shops, according to 451 surveys.

Research firm 451's fourth quarter 2015 Voice of the Enterprise Survey found that 65% of decision-makers have adopted Agile development. While this shows where the market is headed, "That's often a step before implementing CI [continuous integration], so we expect that the segment of the market doing CI is significantly smaller," according to an August 451 survey report, titled "Interest in continuous testing puts pressure on performance-testing vendors."

"Performance-testing vendors we spoke with said that their customers want to adopt CI/CD [continuous delivery] and do continuous testing, but few actually are," the August report added.

In the meantime, Stripe's Watson remains concerned about a time-honored full-stack monitoring bugaboo: software integration among different parts of an overarching platform.

"One of the downsides to having the industry go this way is making sure that my engineers that I work with can all use all these tools," Watson said. "I don't think Datadog's going to do a bad job with that, but it's something I'm worried about with the whole industry."

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. Write to her at [email protected] or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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