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November - 2013 - issue > Cover Feature
AppDynamics Building the Next Great Software Company
Sagaya Christuraj
Monday, November 4, 2013
The world runs on code. Every business relies on software applications, whether they're running in a browser or on a mobile device. These applications have undergone a major shift with the rise of cloud computing, distributed and service-oriented architectures, mobile technology and other significant trends in software architecture. This shift has contributed to an exponential increase in complexity, making the management of these applications more difficult than ever. As a technologist and architect working on these complex, distributed systems, Jyoti Bansal saw an opportunity to help enable people to manage these applications even as complexity increased. To do that, he would first have to build a product that would instrument every line of code in the world.

Jyoti founded AppDynamics in 2008 with the goal of redefining how modern businesses build, manage and analyze their applications. In order to achieve that, Jyoti would have to do three things:

1.Build a product that is powerful enough to solve the most complex problems facing modern applications today and in the future.

2.Create a user experience to rival the best consumer software applications.

3.Power it with a disruptive sales model.

Jyoti knew that if he accomplished these three things, he would be well on his way to delivering a solution that could revolutionize how modern businesses run. Over the next three years, he proceeded to do exactly that.

Solving Difficult Problems with Instrumentation

Jyoti's first task was to build a product that would solve the real problems that organizations were experiencing with their applications. "As soon as I started the company I made a goal for myself to talk to three potential customers every week," said Jyoti. "This allowed me to find out firsthand what their problems were, and how I could solve them. "By communicating directly with his target audience, Jyoti learned about the problems they faced on a daily basis in managing their applications, and was able to build a product that offered a real solution.

A Consumer Experience with an Enterprise Product

Solving difficult problems is important, but in order for the product to be successful Jyoti knew it needed to be easy to use. In order to build a best-in-class user experience, Jyoti brought in a User Experience (UX) Engineer as his second hire. This UX engineer helped to design the product's architecture around how the customers would one day use the product, ensuring a seamless user experience from end to end.

A Disruptive Sales Model

"The best way to establish trust with a potential customer is to let them install and use the product on their own," said Jyoti. "That's what we did at AppDynamics" we let users download and install the product and discover its value without any help from sales. Once they see what it can do the product basically sells itself."

The Next Great Software Company

These three objectives helped Jyoti build a product that quickly became the clear leader in its category and have changed how enterprise organizations manage their production applications. But this strategy is only part of the story - Jyoti doesn't want AppDynamics to simply be an instrumentation and analytics company. Jyoti wants it to be the next great software company. And the next great software company needs a culture to match.

"Long-term, sustainable growth doesn't come from a single product - it comes from culture," said Jyoti. In order to build the next great software company, he reasoned, he needed to first build a culture to support that growth - a culture that's open and engaging for its employees. Jyoti has instilled this culture in AppDynamics from day 1.

Jyoti has gone a long way to ensure that its employees are happy. In addition to focusing on building a product that his customers will value and enjoy, Jyoti is also dedicated to fostering an engaging and fulfilling work environment for his employees. From company-sponsored weekly chair massages to meals, employees at AppDynamics are not short on perks. These perks are not limited to the company's headquarters in San Francisco, either local offices in London, Paris, Munich and Singapore receive the same attention and benefits as the headquarters.

More importantly, however, Jyoti ensures that AppDynamics is a place where his employees feel that their opinions and ideas are valued and considered. Jyoti meets every Wednesday with the entire company at a weekly Lunch and Learn, where employees are invited to ask questions over lunch. In addition, employees weigh in and engage on anything from benefits to design ideas for the new office space in an online portal.

The company also recognizes the value of diversity in an organization's success. In order to promote cultural diversity and the exchange of ideas at AppDynamics, Jyoti encourages employees to travel between offices and even take a position in another country. In addition, AppDynamics has recruited employees from dozens of countries including India, Germany, Morocco, Spain and more, helping them apply for visas and obtain green cards to work in the United States.

Instrumenting Every Line of Code

The future is full of possibility for AppDynamics. "Very few businesses realize how much valuable information is locked in their application code," said Jyoti. "By instrumenting every line of code in your business, you have a window into what's going on in your business in real time. The possibilities for how you can use that data are endless."

As for the near-term, AppDynamics is undoubtedly going places, and soon. With three years of uninterrupted growth, AppDynamics is in good company with (and even outpacing) recent Silicon Valley success stories like Splunk and ServiceNow. In 2013 AppDynamics has begun to fill out its C-suite with proven executives from the technology industry, including CFO Walter Berger (previously at SoftLayer) and CMO Steven Wastie (previously at Xirrus).

With the company's recent success, it's not a long shot to say that Jyoti has landed on a business model that works well. The product has the confidence of both its customers and industry analysts; the sales model has led the company to astronomical growth; and the corporate culture has produced not only a successful company but also happy, motivated employees. Jyoti has proved, above all else, that there is a formula for success and it starts with a CEO that knows to listen to both his customers and his employees.

Getting to Jyoti Bansal

Before founding AppDynamics, Jyoti led the design and architecture for several products at Wily Technology. Wily was the pioneer and leader in the Java performance diagnostics space, and was acquired by Computer Associates for $375 million. Before Wily, Jyoti worked in senior engineering roles at Datasweep (acquired by Rockwell Automation) and netLens (acquired by Microsoft through FAST/Nextpage), where he built distributed application architectures for enterprise search and data mining. Jyoti received his BS in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. He is the lead inventor on 14 US patent applications in the field of distributed applications management.

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