AppDynamics integrated strategy and solution set with Cisco had been doing well since they were acquired, but the pandemic has seen a surge of interest, to which the company and its channel partners are responding.
In March 2017, Cisco completed their acquisition of application and business performance monitoring vendor AppDynamics, and set about putting together an integrated strategy that would leverage the synergies between the organizations. The focus has been on driving AIOps – Artificial intelligence for IT Operations –through analytics and machine learning. While AIOps has had momentum of its own, the pandemic has extended that considerably. The Canadian market has seen greater adoption of AIOps to automate analysis and enhance digital operations.
“This touches a nerve for me, because I have a degree in AI,” said Luke Rogers, General Manager – Canada at AppDynamics, a Cisco Company. Rogers, who is from the U.K., came to Cisco with AppDynamics, where he had worked since 2013. He moved to Toronto as Canadian country manager in August 2019. Previous to that, he had a series of U.K-based regional and area management roles.
“We truly have an AI core to our Central Nervous System, and you really need to leverage AI and machine learning today,” Rogers stated.
The Central Nervous System for IT, introduced in 2018, is a joint collaboration between Cisco and AppDynamics which is the central solution in their AIOps strategy.
“Cisco and AppDynamics have the Central Nervous System for IT at the heart of their vision for AIOps,” said Shreyans Parekh, Director, Product Marketing at AppDynamics. “It provides deep visibility across domains, and its AI and machine learning automate actions, replace manual tasks, and enables customers to reduce mean time to resolution.”
The second solutions collaboration between Cisco and AppDynamics that underpins the AIOps strategy is between Cisco Workload Optimization Manager [CWOM] and AppDynamics.
“This integration lets you right-size infrastructure to meet your high demand peak periods by correlating the application metrics to the underlying infrastructure to make better resourcing decisions,” Parekh said.
These solutions had been showing strong momentum before the pandemic.
“We saw a big increase in interest in us because we are a Cisco company, as well as in the Central Nervous System, but we also got a lots of success because we are a leader in our Gartner Magic Quadrant,” Parekh indicated. “Our ability to execute has seen Gartner rank us with the highest ability to execute in the class. That is a testament to two years of cultivating the Central Nervous System for IT operations, as well as our cognition engine and our partner system as competitive differentiators. We are not just an APM vendor per se, but are broadening our capabilities.”
AppDynamics’ market is also fairly broad, extending into larger companies as well as the SMBs that are so common in Canada.
“We have large enterprise clients because ours is a solution that acts as a cockpit for business leaders,” Rogers said. “But we also have midmarket and SMB customers. We have always sold into all spaces, because we can be downloaded for free, and that appeals to SMBs.”
The pandemic has significantly accelerated AppDynamics’ momentum.
“It really has had two sides,” Parekh said. “One is how it has affected businesses providing digital services to their own employees. The other is how it has affected their ability to provide commercial services to the market as brick and mortar has closed down.”
The first scenario responds to immense strains on the system created by the pandemic, as employees move to Work From Home situations.
“The level of demand on internal access has increased, and they have to place more internal monitoring on their own employees as experience issues increase,” Parekh indicated. “That increases strain. They deploy AppDynamics Central Nervous System to provide a level of visibility. With call centre employees working from home, we can let customers monitor their Cisco contact centre environment.”
The second use case relates to the volume of demand increasing on customer-facing sites as brick and mortar stores are closed, or impose restrictions on the numbers of customers in store that create lines to get in, and thus discourage shoppers.
“They are having unprecedented demand on their ecommerce sites,” Parekh noted. “Loblaws saw 3x increase in their PC Express for online ordering. They use AppDynamics to manage that massive spike in load while maintaining a consistent experience.”
Rogers indicated many companies who had been laggards in digital transformation are now making the move under this pressure.
“I have had a lot of conversations with CIOs in the last few weeks where their cloud migration strategies have been accelerated,” he said. “They want their workloads to be the same or better when they move them. They are also accelerating their plans to adjust their digital experiences for customers, including developing new digital experiences to replace traditional marketing. Companies ask how we can help with a long-term strategy around digital transformation, beyond traditional performance monitoring to provide visibility to the network.”
“We are seeing many industries, especially highly regulated ones, who have been slower to adopt more digital services, increase their efforts,” Parekh added. “They are now being forced to do so. We feel there will be longer term impacts caused by the pandemic, and we are factoring those into product decisions. We want to be able to serve widespread industries by giving access to Central Nervous System, and we are looking for ways to package up offerings to deal with these spikes We feel there will be major long term impact there.”
Both AppDynamics’ channel partners and their strategic vendor collaborations play a key role in this.
“I love our Canadian channel partners,” Rogers said. “This is not just a pure resale type model. We have an incredible network of partners who can deliver fully managed services based on AppDynamics. I personally have a channel-first strategy when it comes to the business in Canada. We want AppDynamics to be partner-first in Canada, to make sure we have a nation-wide reach, and that we have a diverse range of skillsets.”
Parekh also emphasized the significance of strategic collaborations with other vendors.
“Partners pride themselves on being able to offer integrated solutions, and our partner program works with other organizations that aren’t Cisco to resell their technology,” he said. “Cisco Workload Optimization Manager, for instance, is powered by Turbonomic.”
Parekh noted that AppDynamics had a number of partnerships before Cisco, but that this had really stepped up since they were acquired.
“Post-acquisition, we have made a strong effort to make sure all of our partners are part of the core,” he said. “We have made a real concerted effort to make sure they are front and centre as part of the Central Nervous System.”