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APM: Identifying Hidden Costs

Network Instruments - APM Identifying Hidden CostWe all know the network team’s job isn’t about troubleshooting the network, but about resolving what went wrong with the application. So how do you compare different monitoring products to be sure you have the right solution for the job? Comparing product functions can be straightforward. But being certain a product fits within your budget is another matter.

APM prices vary wildly, and different vendors take different approaches in bundling features and hiding costs. In this article, we’ll explore five critical questions to ask vendors to be certain you can identify any unknown product costs, make an apples-to-apples comparison between solutions, and purchase a fully-functional APM solution that fits your budget.


1) Does the Solution Offer a Starter Kit?

Being able to try out a solution on a small scale is important. Everyone talks scalability; the ability to offer a cost-effective entry point is a litmus test as to whether the claim is justified. An entry-level solution can also be helpful when there are many remote sites that require their own local capabilities.

2) What Options are Available for the Solution?

Understanding what the options are is a great indicator of the product's final cost. If the list of options is long, be sure to take a hard look at the total costs as add-ons may significantly increase the final price. Examples include VoIP, multi-segment, infrastructure, and virtualization analysis modules that may or may not be included.

3) What About Service and Ongoing Maintenance Costs?

These costs can ultimately be more than the initial purchase price. Be aware some APM vendors offer deep discounts upfront but then require large recurring renewal and maintenance expenses. Be sure to quantify all costs that go into using and supporting a solution for a true Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

4) Does the Solution Provide the Comprehensive Visibility, Reporting, Alerting, and Trending Capabilities to Address all Levels of the Organization?

Make sure the vendor's solution enables access to the relevant data for all personnel and multiple functional groups. Otherwise, additional products and/or key visibility may need to be added to ensure that the original purchasing need is satisfied.

5) Do the Vendor's Products Integrate?

Most APM vendors offer different products for managing different IT components or systems. Ask up front if individual products integrate with one another, as this can have cost implications when aggregating multiple data sources into a cohesive reporting structure. If they don’t work well together, additional solutions may need to be purchased. One red flag is a product growth strategy of acquisitions; this often requires years to seamlessly integrate.

Every business has unique application and service delivery requirements, and making the right APM choice involves understanding your network environment and monitoring requirements. It requires asking the correct questions to ensure a straight-forward comparison on monitoring solutions capabilities and costs. Use these questions as the first-step to understanding where the hidden costs of an APM solution may reside and to make an informed decision that maximizes your application monitoring investment.

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