4 “No Fail” Best Practices for Enhanced Application Diagnostics
November 11, 2011
Charley Rich

Many things can, and will, go wrong during the development of an enterprise application. These issues underscore the importance of using test cycles to detect potential performance-robbing defects before the application is moved into production. To combat the myriad problems waiting to plague the application lifecycle, developers need to equip themselves with items they can employ to troubleshoot such issues when they arise.

User Acceptance Testing, in theory, is used to utilize the end-user to test the application before it moves on to other stages of the application lifecycle and give their approval, but rarely does an application become exposed to the variety of situations it will experience in production.

Too often, the underlying middleware message layer is often regarded as a “black-box” during this process. And that’s ok, as long as there are no problems. Testers know how long a message or transaction took to transit that layer or the architecture. But if that took too long or was routed to the wrong location, they don’t know why.

This lack of visibility can make it rather difficult to reproduce and then resolve a production problem. Lack of visibility also forces development to manually contact the middleware administrator in shared services and request information about message contents. Certainly, this is an interruption to the middleware administrator and a very inefficient, costly and error-prone process.

As more firms move to a DevOps culture, cooperation in usage of tools across development and production is important. At the very least it gets the two teams speaking the same language, which means time spent in trying to reproduce a problem that is adequately specified can be reduced. At best it can help the joint teams rapidly identify a problem, reproduce it in the test cycle and then develop a resolution.

The following “no fail” best practices are designed for Independent Software Vendors to enforce consistent guidelines for application, middleware and transaction diagnostics in order to rapidly identify, trace, replicate and resolve issues that occur during production.

1. Visibility

Ensure that you have the most detailed visibility into the performance of your applications as possible. Synthetic transactions are not enough. Detailed diagnostics down to the message contents or method level are essential -- you need to see more than just what is being passed into and out of an application as if it were a “black box.”

Instead, ensure you have full visibility of each message and transaction. Use diagnostics at each juncture to proactively provide detailed information when an application’s behavior veers from the expected.

2. Traceability

Knowing when a metric has been breached is an important first step in optimizing application performance during test cycles. Knowing exactly what caused the problem is more challenging. Traditional testing methodologies treat the symptoms looking outside-in, not the root cause which often requires an inside-out viewpoint. Make certain that you can trace the message path in its entirety to uncover the precise moment and environment when the problem occurred.

3. Reproducibility

The key to any successful testing program is the ability to reproduce an error. It is the confirmation of a problem solved, and guarantees that the same problem will never need to be resolved twice.

4. Actionability

Once a problem and its trigger have been identified, and after it has been successfully isolated through replication, developers have all of the tools they need to confidently act on the information and permanently resolve application performance problems. This means they need the tools to -- on their own -- create new messages, re-route them and test their problem resolution.

The ability to identify problems sooner in the application lifecycle will yield better results when the need to remediate issues arises in production. This can only happen when development and production are working together as a team, utilizing a common tool set and when development is enabled with full visibility. This approach will save time and money, as well as helping organizations meet SLAs and drive ROI from these applications.

About Charley Rich

Charley Rich, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing at Nastel, is a software product management professional who brings over 20 years of experience working with large-scale customers to meet their application and systems management requirements. Earlier in his career he held positions in Worldwide Product Management at IBM, as Director of Product Management at EMC/SMARTS, and Vice President of Field Marketing for eCommerce firm InterWorld. Charley is a sought after speaker and a published author with a patent in the application management field.

Related Links:

www.nastel.com

The Latest

August 28, 2015

In Part 2 of a three-part interview, AppDynamics talks about Application Performance Management for cloud and mobile ...

August 27, 2015

In Part 1 of a three-part interview, AppDynamics talks about Application Performance Management, monitoring and the 2015 APM Tools Survey, conducted by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) ...

August 26, 2015

For the business, application performance is only relevant if it correlates to meaningful user experiences and conversion metrics. The most common challenge hindering companies from realizing the full promise of application performance solutions has been the lack of a common language, and business-relevant metrics to measure monitor and set targets for customer experiences. The organizational divisions that separate development, IT operations and business teams have led to varied and disparate perspectives on end-user experience, how performance impacts business, and the level of investments needed to consistently excel. To really move beyond the traditional APM mindset, where performance is seen as a technical problem, marketing and business leaders across global industries are in need of new approach to monitoring. An approach that starts and end with the user experience ...

August 25, 2015

This is Part 2 of a three-part series on change management. In this blog, I’ll look at what it takes to make change management initiatives succeed — including metrics and requirements, best practice concerns, and some of the more common pitfalls ...

August 24, 2015

Sixty percent of those surveyed had apps created internally, while 35 percent had custom apps created by a third party, according to the 2015 Enterprise Mobility Report, from Apperian with the help of CITO Research ...

August 20, 2015

Circonus conducted a survey at the recent ChefConf show. Some of the results were what we expected, especially of such a DevOps-oriented audience. Other results were surprising, as we tried to gauge, for example, how far along people were on their DevOps journey and, in particular, what the new DevOps requirements were for monitoring tools ...

August 19, 2015

This is the first of a three-part series on change management. In this blog, I’ll try to answer the question, “What is change management?” from both a process and a benefits (or use-case) perspective ...

August 18, 2015

Application-Aware Network Performance Management (AA NPM) solutions tout benefits from capabilities embedded in such themes as "User Experience," "Application Performance," or "Business Impact" – with enticing dashboards and lots of metrics and graphs to grab attention. In this blog, I'll outline four of the more significant broken AA NPM promises ...

August 17, 2015

ITSM is a modern approach to planning, implementing and managing IT services of an agile, service-oriented organization. The practice is business, rather than technology-centered. IT services add the most value when they are in complete alignment with the needs of an organization. Otherwise, they impede a company's ability to react to market changes, put a strain on the budget, and, ultimately, result in dissatisfied customers and lost business opportunities. Four key solutions that help deliver ITSM benefits include the following ...

August 14, 2015

The “What’s Your ECM Action Plan?” infographic shows the how modern, ECM-aware application management solutions (with pre-configured ECM tests, notifications, dashboards and reports) can provide a measurable and positive production impact for a business, its IT team and its end-users ...

Share this