The value that end-user activity monitoring (EUAM) provides has become clear. By monitoring users in real time, you can help ensure application performance and identify errors before they affect anyone. However, many IT organizations continue to wrestle with how to use the data gathered from monitoring activities to increase business understanding and to enhance the quality of the user's experience.
EUAM provides a wealth of information that may be easier to leverage when it is incorporated into existing IT operations management technology, but there are some challenges to making this happen.
Historically, the end user has not been a primary focus for IT operations. While this focus is starting to change, the user continues to be supported through the service desk and enabled through the management of the devices used. This level of support alone does not give the user the ability to solve IT problems independently or provide visibility into how these people use IT.
This situation is changing now because end users are beginning to play a major role in influencing IT decisions, especially regarding how IT applications are chosen, supplied, consumed and evaluated to support the business. Forward-thinking IT operations organizations are now using or investigating the use of management products that can provide greater visibility into how users consume IT.
Monitoring end-user activity provides applications performance monitoring with visibility at the endpoint. Application performance monitoring has two areas of focus: the back-end data center communication layers and the front-end transactional communication (to the end user). Current application performance monitoring tools focus on a specific application or communication method. This means that they fail to provide a holistic understanding on how multiple applications impact each other or support the overall service at the end-point — the end user.
Adding EUAM to the application performance monitoring solution enables IT operations to understand how the end user is experiencing IT services, irrespective of how many applications are being used or where they are sourced. However, gaining visibility into end-user activity is valuable only if IT operations measure it against end-user satisfaction metrics.
Together these two capabilities provide valuable visibility into:
- Application performance beyond the data center
- Applications performance and usage irrespective of each application’s source
- End-user activity and applications experience
For decades, IT has struggled to understand how end users consume IT, which at the service desk has resulted in a set of carefully articulated questions to help identify and route issues. Service desk managers continually wrestle with how to effectively solve end-user issues through accurate analysis and associating incidents with the appropriate support team and expertise level.
As the end-user environment becomes more complex, it will become more challenging for service managers to support the business. The ability to leverage internal data center metrics is less relevant in a world where the IT user is using Cloud-delivered applications, and consuming applications on many different devices. Service managers must be able to understand both what the end user is doing and how the end user consumes IT to enable the business.
The ability to understand end-user behavior, through the integration of EUAM and ITSM, moves the service desk from a passive incident-reporting system to a solution that provides the IT support organization visibility into how the business uses IT.
At the most basic level, this visibility enables service managers to manage incidents more effectively. At a more advanced level, the information enables them to identify and management business trends and provide services in line with business usage.
The management of mobile devices continues to challenge IT organizations. Mobile device usage, changes and configurations can be managed more effectively when end-user activity is factored into the equation.
Understanding how and when people use their mobile devices allows the management of the devices to be aligned with business priorities and not just device activity.
In addition, understanding the end-user experience with devices can contribute to understanding what devices are more effective in supporting the business.
By focusing on the end user, IT operations organizations can factor the business impact into IT service decisions and ensure that users are supported more effectively through visibility into their activity. Application performance monitoring solutions should ensure that there are no blind spots in how the business uses IT, and this visibility is leveraged to augment and enhance other key solutions.
IT organizations should embark on a strategy that includes the end user as a core focus. Begin now to investigate the use of tools that can monitor end-user activity and provide the necessary detail to enable better IT services.
David Williams is Vice President of Strategy in the Office of the CTO at BMC, with particular focus on availability and performance monitoring, applications performance monitoring, IT operations automation, and management tools architectures. He has 29 years of experience in IT operations management. Williams joined BMC from Gartner, where he was Research VP, leading the research for IT process automation (runbook automation); event, correlation, and analysis; performance monitoring; and IT operations management architectures and frameworks. His past experience also includes executive-level positions at Alterpoint (acquired by Versata), IT Masters (acquired by BMC), and as VP of Product Management and Strategy at IBM Tivoli. He also worked as a senior technologist at CA for Unicenter TNG and spent his early years in IT working in computer operations for several companies, including Bankers Trust.