Digital performance management firm Dynatrace has seen massive growth since it started operations in 2005. Its customers are mainly medium and large businesses in the financial services, telecommunications, public sector, and e-commerce markets. The common factor among its clients is that they all run business-critical software, and rely on Dynatrace to analyze application performance to ensure a consistent experience for their own customers. Dynatrace is regarded as a leader in this space, having taken the top position in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Management for the past six years.
“You cannot sit on success,” says Chief Technology Officer Bernd Greifeneder about Dynatrace’s approach to business. “You need to move forward, and so when we started to see a shift in the software landscape, we wanted to be at the forefront of it.”
The company’s strategy, as Greifeneder puts it, was “digital transformation.” Dynatrace wanted to provide software as a service (SaaS) to fulfil a growing demand from customers. “The question was, what was the best infrastructure for us to deliver our SaaS solution across the globe,” says Greifeneder.
“We needed to reach customers in multiple regions,” he says. “Most importantly, we needed to speed our time to market and push new features out without encountering any bottlenecks. With our on-premises setup it could take up to three weeks to deploy a patch. This just wasn’t responsive enough for our needs.”
The CTO wanted to create an agile and highly available environment that allowed his engineers to focus on development rather than the day-to-day running and monitoring of the firm’s IT infrastructure.
Why Amazon Web Services
The wide reach of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) network was key to Dynatrace’s choice of which cloud provider to use. To serve international clients and ensure the best availability, Dynatrace works in several AWS Regions: US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), Asia Pacific (Sydney), and EU (Ireland). They operate across at least three Availability Zones (AZs) in each region. Greifeneder says, “By using multiple geographies and AZs, we can flexibly deploy software wherever in the world our customers are. The beauty of AWS is that in less than 24 hours, we can spin up a cluster in Frankfurt, for example, with capacity to onboard up to 1,000 enterprise customers.”
Greifeneder and his team use Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), matching different instances to specific uses and size of load. “We’ve found that the range of instances has given us flexibility, and we tune them constantly to optimize costs,” says Greifeneder. Another major reason the company chose AWS was because of the automation tools available. Dynatrace deals with capacity scaling by using Auto Scaling. AWS CloudFormation simplifies the provisioning of resources, and the managed Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) eliminates database administration tasks.
With its infrastructure running smoothly on AWS, Greifeneder and his team have time to explore ways of diversifying Dynatrace’s portfolio. “We’re rethinking performance management,” says Greifeneder. “We are already working with the Alexa Skills Kit, whereby the digital performance management system becomes a virtual assistant and takes part in meetings like another member of the team. It’s another way we’re innovating with AWS.”
By using AWS, Dynatrace has changed its approach to IT and software delivery, focusing on product development rather than day-to-day management. “When I talk to other companies about our digital transformation, I like to say we went from ‘zero to DevOps’ in 80 days,” says Greifeneder. “In fact, that’s not even the whole story—we’ve actually arrived at ‘NoOps.’ I now have zero personnel dedicated to operations. Before, we had about 16 people just sitting in front of screens, monitoring the infrastructure. And there was an additional team of around 20 people who were looking after the server side. These people can all focus on delivering value for the business now.”
Using multiple AZs, Dynatrace ensures its systems run seamlessly. “We had an incident recently where one of the AZs went down. But it just wasn’t an issue because of all the self-healing that we’ve built into the system. There was no panic from my team and no interruption to services for customers,” says Greifeneder.
Dynatrace is achieving significant scale and speed by using AWS, which has positive impact on business agility. Greifeneder says, “We have 400 instances running, do 150 deployments a day, and have a major release every other week. If that isn’t agile, I don’t know what is.” He points to automation in AWS as a key factor in this transformation: “We used to have a lead time of at least three months to provision hardware, whereas with AWS we can spin up a new instance in minutes, or launch a cluster in a new region like Frankfurt in a matter of hours. This is all because we’re fully automated on AWS.”
“The beauty of AWS is that in less than 24 hours, we can spin up a cluster in Frankfurt, for example, with capacity to onboard up to 1,000 enterprise customers.”
Bernd Greifeneder, Chief Technology Officer, Dynatrace