Gartner MQ - APM Review of Microsoft System Center 2012

Microsoft

With the launch of the System Center 2012 product bundle in 2012, Microsoft integrated its once separate AVIcode APM technology, acquired in 2010, into the core Operations Manager (OpsMgr) component of System Center 2012 agent and server. This provides .NET monitoring functionality for those applications written on the framework. Microsoft has also improved monitoring in OpsMgr around network, Linux and Java systems. While these new features are welcome in environments with basic needs, they are not comprehensive enough to compete with products that have effective multiplatform support. Microsoft enjoys having customers with a heavy reliance on Microsoft stacks, which is common in today's enterprises, many of which purchase this package as part of an enterprise agreement. Microsoft has significantly simplified pricing for System Center 2012, requiring that customers license standard or data center products; each includes the full System Center suite inclusive of monitoring (and APM), configuration management, backup and recovery, antivirus, anti-malware, orchestration, service management (service desk), and virtualization management. Although pricing was increased for System Center 2012, the offering includes all technologies for a single license cost. Some current customers will have a reduced cost, while others will see an increase in pricing. As enterprises leverage more System Center products, this cost difference can be easily eliminated. Gartner clients report that OpsMgr is still most often used as a monitoring technology without APM, but this is likely to change as Microsoft creates deeper linkages from application life cycle and packaged applications to the OpsMgr APM functionality.

Strengths
  • With the packaging of APM, server and application instance monitoring, network monitoring, and basic Java monitoring into a single product install and license, Microsoft has a high value proposition, with no additional cost for APM functionality.
  • By packaging the technologies together in System Center, when compared with other APM products, OpsMgr is still one of the price leaders, while the functionality of the suite is far wider than just APM or monitoring. This price point and better leveraging of the APM functionality to automatically provide APM functionality for the Microsoft applications written on top of .NET will provide Microsoft additional monitoring of SharePoint, Exchange and other core Web-based Microsoft technologies.
  • Microsoft's control of the .NET development environment and a compelling ALM suite in Team Foundation Server (TFS) provide the ability to detect, triage, escalate and collaborate on issues from monitoring to the development organization. This will prove especially important as organizations move to agile release processes or go in a larger DevOps direction.
Cautions
  • Microsoft still remains focused on its technology stack, with minimal support for non-Microsoft technologies; the larger partner ecosystem provides solutions here, but can also increase cost and complexity of the implementation.
  • Microsoft's SaaS offering, Global Service Monitor (GSM), is well-integrated, but only provides synthetic end-user experience monitoring functionality, while other vendors are currently offering APM SaaS solutions meeting all five dimensions, even on Microsoft's own Azure platform. This shows a lack of execution around Microsoft's management philosophy pertaining to its own public cloud.
  • Java monitoring is a new capability, but is limited to Java Management Extensions (JMX) only, not allowing insight into any of the dimensions of APM, including the critical transactions tracing or real-user experience monitoring. The lack of ability to trace across application tiers is critical to many .NET applications, as they are often part of an enterprise Java Web services ecosystem. Microsoft acknowledges this shortcoming and is looking to improve its capabilities.