Cisco looks to ease management of software agents


Cisco AppDynamics has rolled out a new management product that aims to take the pressure off operations teams tasked with maintaining a growing raft of application and infrastructure agents. Smart Agent for Cisco AppDynamics can help customers spot and update out-of-date software agents as well as quickly on-board and manage new agents through a centralized user interface, Cisco stated.

Agents are key to tracking application status, security and performance monitoring, but as applications become widely distributed via multiclouds, branch offices and private locations, the task of handling agents can become complex and tedious, wrote Ronak Desai, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s AppDynamics and full-stack observability group, in a blog about the new Smart Agent package.

“While in many companies, the operations teams are dealing with agents in the tens of thousands, those at large enterprises often handle hundreds of thousands of agents, depending on the number and type of applications being observed,” Desai stated. “An average sized organization may have upward of 40,000 agents in deployment, but I’ve even spoken with some larger organizations with more than one million agents to support massively scalable applications.”

As a result, many organizations fail to upgrade to the latest agent versions in a timely fashion, leaving them with old and unsupported agents, without the latest features, and at risk from security vulnerabilities that have been mitigated in the most recent agent releases, Desai wrote.

Once installed on each agent-management host, Smart Agent will show agent inventory and status. If attached agents are out of date and need to be updated, customers can install or upgrade multiple agents at once without manual coding or scripts via a centralized agent-management console, Desai stated. The Smart Agent and central UI let customers filter by agent versions, type, and the applications and environments they are associated with, and users can address the need to upgrade based on compliance requirements, Desai stated.

In the near future, Cisco will upgrade Smart Agent with auto-discovery and auto-deploy capabilities that reduce the need for deep application or domain knowledge, Desai said. In addition, the company plans to support OpenTelemetry metrics to handle AppDynamics-managed collectors which gather performance data from servers, storage, databases and other systems, Desai stated.

OpenTelemetry is a standards-based framework of tools, APIs, and SDKs used to instrument, generate, collect, and export telemetry data to analyze software performance and behavior. OpenTelemetry is being developed under the Cloud Native Foundation by contributors from AWS, Azure, Cisco, F5 and Google Cloud.

OpenTelemetry technology, as well as the AppDynamics Smart Agent, are key pieces of Cisco’s overarching Full-Stack Observability portfolio.

The Full-Stack Observability Platform is designed to collect and correlate data from application, networking, infrastructure, security, and cloud domains to provide a clear view of what’s going on across the enterprise and make it easier for enterprises to spot anomalies, preempt and address performance problems, and improve threat mitigation.

Included in the FSO family is Cisco’s recently announced Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) platform, which ties together AppDynamics application observability capabilities and ThousandEyes network intelligence. The goal with DEM is to get business, infrastructure, networking, security operations, and DevSecOps teams working together more effectively to find the root cause of a problem and quickly address the issue, according to Cisco.

Observability tools and applications are of growing interest to enterprises. Gartner says that by 2024, 30% of enterprises implementing distributed system architectures will have adopted observability techniques to improve digital-business service performance, up from less than 10% in 2020.

The Smart Agent for Cisco AppDynamics is available now.

Cloud Computing, Data Center, Network Management Software

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