AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform

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This topic describes AppDynamics flow maps and how to use them to monitor applications.

How Flow Maps Display Business Transactions across an Application

An AppDynamics flow map is a graphical representation of the tiers and backends in an application. Depending upon flow map customizations, some tiers and backends may be hidden from view.

Flow maps are an integral part of the application, tier, node, and business transaction dashboards. These flow maps have similar aspects and but differ slightly.

In a flow map, a tier is represented by a circle. The number inside the circle indicates how many nodes are in the tier.

Backends are represented by various icons depending on the type of the backend.

Flows are represented by lines with the arrows on the line indicating the direction of the traffic.

See Health Indicators for information about the colors of tiers and flows.

Old Style Flow Maps

The AppDynamics UI is being updated. At this writing, the flow maps in the application and business transaction dashboards use the new UI while the tier, node, database, remote service and transaction snapshot dashboards use the old UI. If the screenshots on this page do not resemble the flow map in front of you, see the documentation for the old style flow maps at 3.8 Flow Maps.

Application Flow Map

The Application Flow Map shows the topology of the application.

Business Transaction Flow Map

The Business Transaction Flow Map shows the activity of a single business transaction. It indicates the tier that starts the transaction (the originating tier) with the START label.

The metrics reported on an application flow map are different from the metrics on a business transaction flow map. See Understanding Transaction Metrics on Flow Maps.

Interacting with Flow Maps

You can click on an item in a flow map to access more detailed information about a particular tier, backend or flow.

You can and drag and drop items in the flow map to change how the items are arranged.

You can configure how much data is represented in a flow map.

You can right-click on a tier or backend and select actions from a context menu, such as View Dashboard or Delete Tier for a tier or View Dashboard or Drill Down for a backend.

Clicking on a tier

Clicking on a tier in an application flow map displays a mini-dashboard with tabs containing summary information about the tier, its nodes, slowest database and remote calls, and business transactions. The KPIs are for calls that pass through the tier.

From the Business Transactions tab of this mini-dashboard you can see the KPIs for the business transactions that the tier participates in. You can click a button to view the business transaction dashboard for a selected transaction.

Clicking on a tier in a business transaction flow map displays summary, node health and business transaction information.

Clicking on a backend

Clicking on a backend an an application or business transaction flow map displays the KPIs for calls into the backend.

Clicking on a flow line

Clicking on a flow line in an application dashboard displays a mini- dashboard for the flow, which includes tabs for its KPIs, slowest database and remote calls, and business transactions.

Clicking on a flow line in a business transaction dashboard displays the KPIs for transactions through the selected flow.

Time Range

For all dashboards, the Time Range setting determines how much data, using a given time range, is represented in the flow map.

If you are using an on-premise Controller, the metrics along the flow lines in the flow maps, as well as metrics viewed by clicking on a tier or backend, are for the current time range.

If you are using a SaaS Controller, flow maps show a maximum of the last 60 minutes of data, regardless of whether the Time Range is set to a larger range. Other graphs on the dashboard display according to the selected Time Range.

Health Indicators

Health refers to the extent to which an application, business transaction, tier, or node operates within acceptable performance limits that are set either by baselines or health rules. Health is also reported in the various scorecards displayed to the right of the flow map. For more information about health see Scorecards. For more information about health rules see Health Rules.

The color of the flow lines can be a health indicator.

  • A blue line indicates that the agent is not comparing against a baseline. 
  • A green line indicates that the response time is not significantly worse than the baseline.
  • A yellow line indicates that the response time is slow in comparison to the baseline. 
  • A red line indicates that the response time is very slow in comparison to the baseline.
  • Dotted lines represent asynchronous activity.

Annotated links show the current calls per minute and average call duration metrics. Click the flow line or its link to see more details about response time, call metrics, and errors. See Measure Distributed Transaction Performance for more information.

The color of a tier or node in the flow map is also a health indicator.

Comparing Against Baseline Data

On the lower right section of the flow map, you may see an informational link: Not comparing against baseline data. This indicates that the agent has not been running long enough to collect data to establish a baseline. For more information see Detect Anomalies Using Dynamic Baselines and Configure Baselines.

Customizing the Content of Flow Maps

You can customize an application or business transaction flow map to show only certain tiers or backends to simplify your view. Do this if you want the flow map to display only the flows that you are interested in monitoring and hide the rest. If you do not customize the default flow map, the controller displays all of the tiers and backends it detects that are applicable to the context of the particular flow map.

The scope of the custom flow map depends on which dashboard you are customizing. For example if you click the flow map menu from an application dashboard, the scope of the new flow map is the application.

You can specify which tiers to display by name or by performance criteria; for example, "Display only tiers from where the load exceeds fifty calls per minute and the average response time exceeds 10,000 ms.

Similarly you can specify which databases and remote services to display by name or performance criteria; for example, "Display only backends receiving at least 400 calls per minute and generating more than 10 errors per minute."

You can also specify that backends of the same type be grouped on the flow map as a single backend, which backends should never be grouped, and which backends should be hidden.

To customize the contents of a flow map

  1. From the flow map menu in the upper right corner, click Edit Current Flow Map.
  2. Optionally rename the flow map if you are creating a custom flow map. If you want your customizations to apply to the default flow map or if you are modifying an existing flow map it is not necessary to rename the flow map.
  3. If you want to share your customizations with other members of your team check the Shared check box. When you share a custom flow map, it is listed in the flow map menu for all users.
  4. If you want the current zoom and pan settings to be saved when you log back in to the controller at a later time, check the Persist Zoom and Pan check box.

To specify tiers to display

  1. Follow the steps in To customize the contents of a flow map.
  2. Select the Tiers tab if it is not already selected.
    If you want to specify the tiers to display using performance criteria, check all of the criteria that you want to apply and then insert the value of each criterion in the appropriate text field. Note that the average response time field is in milliseconds.
     For example, the following flow map displays only tiers in which, for the selected time range, the average response time is greater than 10000 ms, the load is greater than 50 calls per minute, and the error rate is averaging greater than 4 errors per minute.
  3. If you want to specify the tiers to display by name, check the Show only the specified Tiers check box. Then in the expanded dialog that appears, add the tiers that you want to hide to the to the Hidden Tiers list and the tiers that you want to display to the Visible Tiers list by selecting the tier and clicking the Add or Remove button as appropriate.

    For example, the following flow map displays the Order Processing Server and Inventory Server tiers and hides the ECommerce Server tier.

  4. Click Apply to apply the changes. You can then view the results of the configuration on the flow map.
    If you want to revert to the flow map you had before the changes, clear the check boxes to the left of the criteria and move the tiers back to their original lists and click Apply again.
  5. Click Save to save the customized flow map or Cancel to cancel the changes.

To specify databases and remote services to display

  1. Follow the steps in To customize the contents of a flow map.
  2. Select the Databases and Remote Services tab if it is not already selected.
  3. If you want to group backends of the same type so that they are represented by a single icon on the flow map, check the Automatically group databases and remote services of the same type when there are at least check box and enter the minimum number of backends of the same type to be grouped. For example, if you enter 4 and the agent detects only 3 HTTP backends, the HTTP backends are not grouped.
    The icon below shows that two JDBC backends have been grouped

    If you click an icon like this in the flow map you can see information on the individual backends in the group:

    Backend Types

    Backends are grouped into types and the types can vary with the agent and the agent version, since backend support is constantly being added. To see the supported backend types, you can examine the automatically discovered backend types for your agents. To do this, in the left navigation panel click Configure->Instrumentation, then click the Backend Detection tab and then the agent subtab. The backend types are listed In the Automatic Backend Discovery panel.

  4. If you want to specify the databases and remote services to display using performance criteria, check all of the criteria that you want to apply and then insert the value of each criterion in the appropriate text field. Note that the average response time field is in milliseconds.

    For example, the following flow map displays only backends in which, for the selected time range, the load is greater than 500 calls per minute.


  5. If you want to specify which databases and backends to display by name, check the Hidden check box for each backend that you want to hide or clear it for each backend that you want to display.

  6. If you want to specify that certain backends should never be grouped, irregardless of the applicability of the Automatically group databases and remote services of the same type  . . . setting, check the Ungroupable check box for that backend.

    The following configuration specifies that the INVENTORY-MySQL DB LOCALHOST database never be displayed in the flow map and the Active MQ-Order Queue message queue always displayed as an individual backend (not grouped) no matter how many message queues are in the flow map.

Individual and Shared Flow Maps

Individual Customized Flow Maps

When a team is monitoring an application environment, team members can have their own views into the business application. Each user can create a custom flow map and save it for their own use.

Shared Flow Maps

You can share a single flow map with the entire team. When you share a custom flow map, it is listed in the Default Map menu for all users.

Flow Map Scope and Inheritance

By default the scope of a flow map depends on the context of the dashboard; that is, the application, business transaction, tier, or node. If there is not a flow map for the specific object, the UI uses the flow map of the parent object. For example if there is no custom flow map for a given node, the UI first looks for the tier flow map of the tier that contains the node, and if there is no tier flow map it uses the application flow map.

The application scope is the highest scope, so by default all flow maps use this scope. To better monitor at different levels of scoping, you can customize flow maps at all levels of the hierarchy and save them. See Customizing the Content of Flow Maps.

Changing the Layout of the Flow Map

To move the entire map

Click and hold in the background of the icons and flows, and move the mouse to reposition the map.

To automatically arrange the layout

The view option icons at the top right let you toggle the dashboard display modes between views of the flow map:

IconLayout
Default Flow Map View
Grid View
Circular View
Auto Arrange (smart view with the fewest crossing flows)
Auto Fit
Maximize

To move the flow map icons

To move a flow map icon, click and drag it to a new position. The flow lines will follow and stay with the icon.

To maximize the size of the layout

To have the flow map take up the entire AppDynamics window, click the Maximize icon to enlarge the flow map. Click it again to restore the flow map to its original size.

To zoom in or out of the layout

To zoom in or out of the image, drag the zoom slider at the left of the flow map. Alternatively you can use the mouse scroll wheel.

To change the tier, node, or backend labels

The labels below the icons are based on the names of the tier, node, database or remote service or backend. To rename these items use the Actions-Edit Properties item in the appropriate Tier, Node, Remote Services and Database dashboard.

Managing Flow Maps

To manage your flow maps

  1. From the flow map menu in the upper right corner, click Manage Your Flow Maps.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • To create a new flow map, click the Add icon and enter a name for the flow map.
  • To remove a flow map, select the flow map in the list and click the Delete icon.
  • To copy a flow map, select the flow map in the list and click the Copy icon.

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