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AppDynamics SaaS vs. On-Premises

The choice between a SaaS and on-premises AppDynamics installation has several pros and cons. This article will highlight the major benefits as well as the drawbacks of choosing a SaaS Controller.

October 7, 2020 6 minute read

Deciding between SaaS and an on-premises AppDynamics implementation? There are a few key components you should consider when making your choice.

Pros and cons

Hardware

A SaaS solution does not require any hardware purchases. The cost of hosting the hardware and maintenance is built into the licenses purchases for SaaS.

Hosting your own on-premise AppDynamics platform has some minimum requirements:

  • Support: One full-time engineer to maintain the hardware and the software upgrade schedule. It can be inefficient tasking an inexperienced engineer with an AppDynamics environment. No one has more combined experience than the vendor, so why not let them shoulder the burden?
  • Server hardware: At a minimum, two servers are required for the smallest AppDynamics footprint, but most ecosystems will require much more than this. Find further information related to the on-premise hardware requirements.

The argument could be made that owning the hardware pays for itself in the long term. Despite the ability to repurpose hardware, the requirement of a full-time engineer to maintain the AppDynamics deployment is a cost that can't be recovered, affecting your bottom line regardless of the outcome.

Security

AppDynamics SaaS comes standard as a secure platform, equipped with teams that design, deploy, build, maintain and operate the tools, technologies and processes that provide our customers with a strong foundational security platform. Read more on AppDynamics and security.

AppDynamics SaaS platform promises privacy and compliance. The AppDynamics platform provides data that helps you make important business decisions and leverage necessary security, privacy and compliance frameworks with additional support. Read more on AppDynamics and privacy.

In an on-premises deployment, security must be managed in house, further requiring the need for on-site support. SaaS can satisfy nearly any security concern.

Software updates

AppDynamics leverages software to deliver a solution that is continually updated and innovated to meet the ever-changing needs of the application development industry. That said, keeping its software up to date is critical to ensure the efficacy and security of AppDynamics' features. Software upkeep and updates cause an increased workload for your infrastructure support team. 

Due to its ever-improving and ever-evolving nature, continuous learning is required to efficiently manage an AppDynamics environment. Read more on software upgrades with AppDynamics.

Scalability

The SaaS model is load-balanced, highly available and scalable to your applications' resource usage. The platform is hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and can grow to meet your application needs without issue. 

In an on-premises deployment, someone must manage the growth of the platform manually by adding more hardware, managing the load balancing and performing general maintenance to keep up with the growth of your applications.

Subscription model

An on-premises AppDynamics installation not only requires the purchase of the controller license but also the additional environment modules. All of the other items we previously mentioned including hardware and software support, security and scalability are additional costs associated with an on-premise AppDynamics platform.

With SaaS, you pay for the same licenses and additional modules. However, the costs of maintenance, hardware and support are built into a monthly subscription. An application outage or incident can incur massive costs, but having a well-tuned AppDynamics configuration can minimize downtime and forecast future behavior.

Metric resolution

The metric data retention period of an application in the AppDynamics SaaS platform is one minute for eight days compared to one minute for four hours in an on-premise deployment. This increased resolution provides a more granular look into the application performance of an entire week, which can better help influence decision-making. 

While on-premises deployments can modify their resolution rate, the roll-up scripts across the entire platform can be negatively impacted by these changes. We never recommend manually modifying resolution rates.

Anomaly detection

Anomaly Detection is a feature the AppDynamics SaaS platform has but on-premises lacks. All events are ingested by the AppDynamics platform from many different clients. Anomaly Detection uses special machine learning algorithms to circumvent duplicate events, correlate issue resolution with events and group these findings with similar events. This feature is very powerful because it is always running, meaning that efficiencies are continually being found and improved upon.

AppDynamics support

Support for an AppDynamics SaaS deployment is much easier than on-premises. AppDynamics support teams can be granted access to the customer's AppDynamics environment which speeds up resolution times significantly. On-premises deployments are plagued by internal logins, local issues and processes that delay issue resolutions.

Synthetics

The AppDynamics End User Monitoring (EUM) module in the SaaS environment provides several locations worldwide for geographic-based performance monitoring. On-premise requires manual installation of private synthetic agents at the physical location where the synthetic test is desired to be run. Another big difference is license consumption. SaaS Synthetics license costs are based on consumption whereas on-premise is not because you manage the hardware.

Controller configurations

When you manage your on-premises controller, you have complete control of the configuration. In a SaaS controller, your deployment is hosted next to those of other customers, separated by a multi-tenant configuration, which prevents changes to controller wide configurations. In rare cases, a dedicated SaaS controller is available. Any configuration change requires a ticket to AppDynamics support which is at a maximum 24 hour response time.

Firewall

AppDynamics Agents, by default, are configured to communicate over port 80 or 443. We recommend 443 to ensure secure communication. With an on-premises deployment, we need to consider the ports being used by the controller and how exposed it is to the inter/intranet. Learn more about AppDynamics configurations.

Converting from on-premises to SaaS

Now that we've discussed the pros and cons of SaaS vs. on-premises AppDynamics installations, you may want to consider migrating from on-premise to SaaS. This conversion comes with a lot of benefits but also carries some hidden considerations. Here are some of the concerns that need to be addressed:

Converting to SaaS costs money.

Converting to SaaS is not free. The cost could be as much as 10 percent of license sales. AppDynamics may reduce the overall cost with license bundles on a case by case basis through price negotiations, but there is a cost.

Analytics storage is eight days.

In addition to the migration cost, storage is another topic to consider when migrating AppDynamics to SaaS. On-premises storage is dictated by the consumer but the default analytics storage license is 90 days long. When AppDynamics hosts the storage, that data retention period is reduced to only eight days. 

Generally, this would be seen negatively, but your monitoring strategy should focus more heavily on real-time data instead of historical data unless it is in the form of baselines. Baselines are AppDynamics averages of application performance over time.

Swap rights do not transfer entirely.

If you purchased swap rights with the on-premises AppDynamics installation, the ability to trade licenses between APM, Analytics, DB Visibility, Server Visibility and EUM into analytics (transaction and log) is not retained. In fact, any licenses that had previously been swapped into analytics will not transfer to SaaS. The customer will have to purchase analytics licenses if they want to use analytics and analytics storage in SaaS.

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