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VG Tuesday Tips: How AppDynamics helps improve IT applications

  Virtual Graffiti

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Choosing which application enhancements will best serve the most users can be a difficult decision for any development team, and it certainly is for mine. It can also be difficult for teams to identify the right sources of issues in application performance. Now, many of those decisions are easier for my team because of the detailed information we get from the AppDynamics Application Performance Management solution.

We develop and maintain Cisco SalesConnect, our digital sales enablement automation platform that empowers our sellers and partners with sales collateral, training and customer insights needed to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Available globally, SalesConnect has over 9 million hits per quarter, with 140,000+ unique users accessing nearly 40,000 content assets on over 100 microsites. SalesConnect is popular among our target users: over 80 percent of Cisco salespeople use the platform along with 34 percent of Cisco customer experience and service employees, and more than 88,000 unique partner users worldwide.

Data to Improve a Sales Enablement Platform

We release a new version of SalesConnect every three weeks, giving us many opportunities to improve the platform’s functionality, performance, and user experience. In the past, it was hard to know which of these improvements should receive priority, especially for making the best use of our limited development resources and budget.

For example, if we develop a new feature, should we make it available for all browsers or just the most popular ones? We couldn’t easily answer this question because we didn’t have the right information. We would make educated guesses, but we never had detailed visibility into which browsers and devices were used to access SalesConnect.

We implemented the AppDynamics solution to gain this visibility as well as in-depth application monitoring for our platform. When planning development priorities, AppDynamics gives us detailed data on the usage levels of specific browsers and devices, which allows us to make informed decisions. The data also helps us ensure we are developing and testing code only for the browsers and devices preferred by our users. In a similar way, we can identify the needs of different countries or regions based on AppDynamics data about the geographic origins of page requests.

The AppDynamics data was a big help when my team needed to develop a new SalesConnect mobile beta app in a very short timeframe. We knew we wouldn’t have time to develop separate apps for both iOS and Android devices, but which one should we choose?

In just a few minutes, I was able to find the device usage data we needed in AppDynamics and it clearly showed that iOS devices are the choice for most of our users. This information simplified our beta development decision and allowed us to postpone the expense and effort of developing an Android app until feedback from the beta was analyzed.

When planning new releases, the knowledge we gain from AppDynamics data gives us more confidence that we are aligning our development resources on the capabilities that will deliver the most impact for our users.

Powerful Insights for Application Availability and Response

AppDynamics serves a powerful function by helping us maintain SalesConnect application uptime and responsiveness, reduce resolution time when problems occur, and avoid issues through proactive alerts. Specifically, the AppDynamics data helps us identify issues in the IT services used by the SalesConnect platform and in our integrations with other applications and databases.

In one case, AppDynamics data indicated that the source of brief but recurring outage was in one IT service used by SalesConnect. Our IT team was able to go directly to that team and obtain a resolution within a few hours, not the days that might have been needed before.

This ability to rapidly diagnose and solve application problems has a tremendous payoff in time, effort, and cost savings for Cisco IT. When SalesConnect experiences problems, we no longer need to set up a “war room” and involve people from multiple teams to diagnose a cause that might be unrelated to their application or service. And because we can give users specific information about a problem and how we are working to resolve it, they have greater confidence about the platform’s reliability.

AppDynamics delivers continuous benefits to my team in maintaining the SalesConnect platform and planning new application capabilities. What types of data would be helpful to you for maintaining application availability or prioritizing application development?