Platform as a Service meets SaaS application performance management

PaaS + APMA few companies in the platform as a service (PaaS) space have been making news lately and we have enjoyed watching all the positive reports come in, as they invariably involve our close friends and partners. The Heroku/Salesforce news has been a popular topic–Heroku was one of our early supporters and partners and we wish them all the best as they help bring developers to Salesforce.com’s platform. PHP Fog and cloudControl were both mentioned recently in an article about PHP Fog’s new funding. Both are partners of ours and we’ve had an outstanding experience working with them so far. In the midst of all this great news, we’re seeing a new trend emerge.

Though it’s still early days, a transformation is occurring wherein PaaS + SaaS APM are combining to create a meaningful shift in web app deployment, delivery and management. This new ecosystem is enabling new businesses to be faster-more productive and more responsive to changes. And it’s gaining traction with developers by providing the best developer tools “out of the box” so developers can be super productive.

Three years ago when we started the company, we felt that broad adoption of Platform as a Service offerings would include services beyond just a basic platform for customers deploying business-critical apps. We believed the Platform as a Service vendors would start adding value higher and higher in the stack. First a strong platform, then easy deployment, then tools to make the deployed apps the most successful.  This is proving more true than even we believed it would be.

Flashback warning: You will now be transported back in time to the era before cloud computing. Please do not adjust your computer screen.

Remember when the “Cloud” was just beginning to take off?  Seems like ancient history now…the earth’s crust was cooling and dinosaurs were roaming about. Back then, in reality just a couple of years ago, there were far fewer cloud platform vendors in the market then than there are today, with most of them supporting Ruby on Rails. At that time, we began working with folks like Heroku and Engine Yard, organizations that were pioneering the new Cloud Platform concept. They quickly expressed a desire to provide their customers with real-time app monitoring. They saw the fundamental utility of allowing their support teams to share visibility inside the customer apps running on their platform when potential performance-related issues popped up. This way,  support staff and the customer could efficiently troubleshoot the app together. Not only that, but by giving their customers production monitoring capabilities, visibility and control for apps deployed on their platform transferred back to the rightful owner: the customer.

This concludes the flashback portion of this post. Please remain calm and continue reading.

Fast forward to the present–we are working with most of today’s leading PaaS (and several IaaS) providers, many of whom are standardizing on New Relic as their monitoring tool of choice for their support staff and for their customers. Most are building New Relic RPM into their platform as a critical feature, and providing it for free for all their customers. The list of New Relic partners reads like a who’s who of Platform as a Service companies and includes Blue Box Group, Brightbox, Engine Yard, Eucalyptus, GigaSpaces, GoGrid, GridGain, Heroku, Joyent, Morphlabs, Network Redux, PHP Fog, RightScale, SpeedyRails, Stax Networks (Cloudbees), and Webbynode (And we have forged relationships with IaaS providers as well including Amazon AWS and MSFT Windows Azure, Rackspace, and VMware).

Benefits of of adding app management to cloud platforms

Real-time visibility into apps deployed on these platforms has several advantages:

  • Reduces support calls by empowering customers with application management capabilities
 to understand and tune their own app.
  • When support calls do occur, it enables support staff with shared realtime visibility into the customer’s app
, making their support calls fast, efficient, clear and effective,  thus driving down the cost of supporting the customer.
  • Provides visibility that proves the performance of the Platform, and helps the customer optimize their app to make best use of the Platform Resources, which we all know often have different requirements than “in-house” hardware.
  • Helps drive overall customer application success, making the customer a happy camper, which in turn, drives PaaS provider’s success as customer’s traffic increases and they increase deployments.
  • Adds functionality to the Platform, enabling the PaaS provider to continue to add features higher and higher in the stack, without necessarily hiring a team of people to learn the complicated Application Management space.

As the sun continues to rise on the Cloud (wait, what?), we all believe that more and more organizations will migrate their business-critical apps to the Cloud.  The cloud and the platforms on which companies are deploying their apps, provide tremendous advantages. Adding shared insight into the health and availability of these apps gives PaaS providers and their customers a common language for collaboratively managing and maintaining successful apps.  In the immortal words of Microsoft (and we can’t believe we’re saying this): “To The Cloud!”

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