Microsoft jumps into application monitoring

Application Insights can be used to instrument applications to better understand how well they perform

Microsoft's new Application Insights

Microsoft's new Application Insights

With the release of Application Insights, Microsoft could help organizations learn more about how well their applications are performing, how often they are used, and how to fix them when they are not operating correctly.

The debut of the service marks Microsoft's entry into the rapidly evolving market of application performance monitoring (APM), now dominated by companies such as Dynatrace, CA Technologies, AppDynamics, and New Relic.

Application Insights is more focused on the developer than most APM tools, asserted Microsoft Technical Fellow Brian Harry, who is the product unit manager for the company's Team Foundation Server release management software.

Microsoft announced the release of Application Insights at the company's Build 2015 conference, held this week in San Francisco.

APM software and services are designed to instrument and monitor applications in order to gather operational data that can help with troubleshooting and improve performance. APM vendors have been expanding their scope lately to also include usage analysis, offering an overview of how users how often deploy an app, and what features they most often use.

Application Insights combines APM functions with usage analytics, as well as with log analysis, which could provide additional layer of details from server logs on how applications are being used. "We have the broadest offering, in that we correlate APM, usage analysis, and log analysis," he said.

The company also endeavored to make the software as friendly to developers as possible, Harry said. It integrated Application Insights into Visual Studio, Eclipse, Android Studio and other integrated development environments, making it easier for developers to instrument their applications directly from within these tools. Developers can even create their own custom metrics and custom logging, historically a difficult thing to do with APM software, Harry said.

Application Insights works not only with Microsoft .Net and Windows-based applications, but also with Android, iOS, and enterprise Java applications as well. It can also work with C++, PHP, Ruby, JavaScript, Python, and other languages.

The service currently is available as a public preview, and the full commercial release should be ready within a few weeks, Harry said. Pricing is based on the amount of telemetry data collected. The service is free for the first five million app readings that it collects, for an unlimited number of devices. The standard tier costs US$24.50 for 15 million app readings, with $1.75 for each additional million data points. Pricing is discounted by 50 percent during the public preview period.

The release of Applications Insights was one of a number of announcements Microsoft made around its development management software at Build 2015. The company issued new release candidates of the next versions of the Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server. The company announced that it is also working on new software for software build management, release management, and release validation, all of which can be used to streamline the process of deploying and maintaining complex applications, Harry said.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

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