Riverbed Stages First APM Launch Since OPNET Buy

Riverbed Technology Tuesday expanded its lineup of application performance management (APM) solutions with the launch of OPNET AppInternals Xpert 8.5, a suite of tools for monitoring and optimizing the performance of enterprise applications.

OPNET AppInternals Xpert 8.5 represents Riverbed's first major product launch in the application management space since its roughly $1 billion acquisition of APM specialist OPNET in October.

The launch also underscores the continued convergence between the APM and network management space, a trend Riverbed said it was targeting with its OPNET buy.

[Related: Riverbed Nabs Juniper VP To Run Application Delivery Practice ]

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Riverbed said the latest version of OPNET AppInternals Xpert is meant to break down the barriers between application development and application support teams -- two groups that have historically been isolated from one another in the enterprise -- and allow them to gain what Riverbed dubbed "coordinated visibility" into application performance.

"The first focus [of OPNET AppInternals Xpert 8.5] is bridging the gap between app support and app developers. There's a lot of efficiencies that can be gained by bringing those communities together, but it requires new tools and new processes," said Russ Elsner, senior director of product management at Riverbed.

Elsner noted that while the roles of application support and application development teams differ, both are responsible for performance and troubleshooting. So to ensure collaboration between the two groups when combating performance issues, OPNET AppInternals Xpert 8.5 integrates with popular integrated development environments (IDE) -- including Microsoft Visual Studio and Eclipse -- allowing application development and support teams to streamline debugging and troubleshooting processes, with full visibility into the steps taken by each team.

Elsner said the new IDE integration arms both IT groups with visibility into application operations, and it allows them to drill down into lines of code to identify performance issues. The IDE integration also allows both teams to see where and by whom code has been altered in application production environments.

"There could be dozens of different teams all working on different pieces [of an application] that are unaware of each other. What that leads to is that a single developer may not know how his or her code gets called and what the effects of changing the code might be," Elsner said. "So since in production we are tracing and storing and indexing every single transaction to the method level, ... [developers] find out there are dependencies in production they might not even be aware of."

NEXT: Riverbed's New App Monitoring Features

Also new in OPNET AppInternals Xpert 8.5 is end-user experience monitoring tools that give application support teams visibility into how applications are performing from end-users' perspectives. It works by tracing front-end application performance and then tying that information back to the exact transaction or code responsible for that experience, letting IT identify the root of the problem if apps are running slowly.

Riverbed said the end-user experience monitoring functionality can be leveraged for Web-based applications, including those hosted in the cloud. The functionality is achieved by integration between Stingray Traffic Manager, Riverbed's application delivery controller, and OPNET AppInternals.

It's also enabled by what Riverbed calls its "big data approach" to APM. Release 8.5 of OPNET AppInternals Xpert is able to stores thousands of different types of raw data and performance metrics related to application performance and provides analytics tools for application support and development teams to analyze that data. OPNET AppInternals Xpert indexes all transactions through its Transaction Trace Warehouse, from which IT can perform open-ended searches on their data.

"With the move to NoSQL, unstructured data and big data approaches, it is now possible to actually keep up with and store all this information in real time, and then that allows [application teams] to continue with all these very powerful, retrospective searches over what could be billions of transactions," Riverbed's Elsner said.

Elsner said OPNET AppInternals Xpert 8.5 and Riverbed's acquisition of OPNET allow both Riverbed and its channel to round out their portfolios of network performance management solutions with application-specific functionality.

"It's really extending the scope of performance management solutions that Riverbed and its channel can deliver, especially in a very fast-moving, and quickly growing segment of monitoring -- the APM side," Elsner said.