February 26, 2010, 12:00 AM

Travel site Priceline finds a way to monitor its wide world of applications

Like many e-commerce companies, Priceline.com draws on distributed applications, both on its own servers and its partners. It has turned to a product from AppDynamics designed to monitor apps wherever they lie.

Like many e-commerce companies, travel services retailer Priceline.com Inc. draws on widely distributed applications, both on its own servers and the computers of partners. In order to keep up with the performance of all those programs, Priceline has turned to a newly introduced product from AppDynamics designed to monitor the performance of apps wherever they lie.

Ron Rose, chief information officer at Priceline, says the AppDynamics application monitoring technology enables Priceline to ensure that its Internet application connections are functioning properly as its site constantly shares data updates with a large number of travel and hospitality companies. “AppDynamics gives us the visibility we need to monitor and tune the performance of customer travel requests as we communicate with thousands of partners and uncover the best discounts,” he says. “We value AppDynamics because they help bring order to the chaos of massively distributed systems.”

Priceline is not alone, says Milind Govekar, a technology analyst at research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. “Applications have become more distributed, service-oriented and dynamic,” he says. “Now, as components of mission-critical applications begin to be deployed in the cloud, organizations will need to be able to monitor application performance and manage capacity across hybrid cloud, virtual and physical environments. This evolution has rendered traditional approaches to application performance management inadequate.”

AppDynamics was founded in April 2008 by CEO Jyoti Bansal, a former lead software architect at Wily Technologies, a provider of application performance management technology. Wily is now part of business software company CA Inc., formerly known as Computer Associates.

AppDynamics’ technology is designed to show web site operators exactly where poor performance is occurring among applications, down to specific sections of software code, Bansal says. By downloading AppDynamics’ software sensors in their application infrastructure, companies can see which network connections are performing well and which are under-performing-with a color-coordinated map of network connections indicating connections flowing up to par (green), those beginning to slow down (yellow) and those that are stalled (red).

“When something goes wrong with the performance of web site, such as when someone hits the checkout button and it runs too slowly, we dive into the software code and tell the site operator where the problem exits in their software architecture and what needs to be fixed,” Bansal says.

The cost of deploying AppDynamics starts at $5,000 for a software license, which for most companies is good for five application servers for one year, Bansal says. The company’s technology can serve companies with as many as 1,000 application servers, he adds.

“Ten or 12 years ago, when Internet commerce first hit it big, software applications were architected for one big application server sitting on one big Sun server box connected to one big Oracle database,” Bansal says. “Now applications are more distributed. If I’m a developer adding cool new features to an e-commerce site, I may think of deploying them in an external cloud computing environment that communicates with my e-commerce platform. Application monitoring tools have to stitch that system together.”

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