What Is Application Dependency Mapping?
Application dependency mapping refers to a process for identifying every element of a software ecosystem and understanding software dependencies work together. It gives IT administrators a clearer picture of the health of the environment and the application's overall performance. Application dependency mapping techniques are critical to managing IT operations - when a problem occurs, it is important to quickly identify the point of failure and find the fastest recovery path.
Every application has many parts. If performance is slow, the application's dependency map tells you where to find bottlenecks, which resources could be overloaded, and how you might troubleshoot issues. If your application is not working, applying an effective dependency mapping solution is key to determining the root cause of the issue.
If a dependency map is incomplete or outdated, it is not useful for resolving problems, because it can reflect workloads or components that no longer exist or are connected in different ways. This makes it important to automatically discover a map of applications in the IT environment, with contextual network topology. This is the role of automated application dependency mapping tools.
Why Is Application Dependency Mapping Critical for Cloud Migration?
Migrating applications to the cloud, regardless of the services they depend on, can cause serious performance issues and have serious unintended side effects to other applications still on-premises. For example, if an application server moves to the cloud, while the database stays on-premises, operations will be negatively affected. Mapping application dependencies is important to avoid application performance degradation and service disruption.
Discovering application dependencies can be a major hurdle in cloud migration projects. To address this issue, there are tools to facilitate the management of this task across several public cloud platforms, such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Amazon Web Services (AWS). These tools provide server relationship modeling, running processes, inbound and outbound connection latency, and TCP ports required by each application.
The downside of using these tools is that they are closely tied to the cloud provider's services. If you choose to use one of these first-party tools for your assessment, you will be locked into the specific cloud provider.
If you're concerned about the cloud vendor's use of application-dependent tools, there are several open source tools that provide similar services and are agnostic to the cloud deployment environment. Some of them can also monitor application performance and assist with cloud cost management.
How Does AWS Application Discovery Service Help?
Amazon's Application Discovery Service enables enterprises to gather information about on-prem data centers to effectively plan a migration project and optimize costs for an AWS deployment. Planning this kind of project can involve thousands of interdependent workloads. It is critical to ensure the first step in this process is server utilization data and dependency mapping.
Application Discovery Service gathers configuration, behavior, and usage data from servers to help enterprises understand their workloads accurately. The service encrypts the collected data and stores it in a data store.
The service allows exporting data via CSV file, estimating the total cost of ownership (TCO) of running workloads on AWS when planning a migration to AWS. The data is also available at the AWS Migration Hub, which helps migrate the identified servers and evaluate the migration progress.
Application Discovery Service supports agent and agentless-based on-premises tools and file-based import. Agentless discovery enables deploying tools on centralized servers, leveraging public APIs in the on-premises environment to identify resources and monitor utilization. One install can monitor several servers. For higher-resolution data and information about running processes, the service deploys the collection tooling on each server (virtual or physical) within the environment.
In this article, I explained the basics of application dependency mapping and why it is crucial to map out dependencies before a cloud migration.
I showed a real-life example of how one cloud provider - AWS - offers a dependency mapping tool to ease cloud migration. Amazon's Application Discover Service can be deployed in an agent or agentless mode within an on-premises data center, monitors your servers and creates a map of applications intended for migration. This illustrates how dependency mapping can be an important element of a successful cloud migration.