Though Application Performance Management (APM) has been in use for a long time, you all must have observed a sudden rise in the usage of APM from the past few years. Earlier the industry was all going gung-ho about several other topics including Business Service Management (BSM). BSM includes managing your business-critical services with an ITIL twist. Here I am not trying to be anti-BSM but in today's challenging economy, where expectations from IT to deliver and cater to businesses is higher than ever, it is imperative to manage your business-critical applications by keeping the end-user experience in consideration.
We have seen several outages in the past year. There was RIM's major outage, Amazon's IaaS division has gone down couple of times, and several other small outages that have happened. What do all these outages have in common? IT is the first to get blamed. And why shouldn't it? It's IT that gave confidence to businesses to deliver, and when it fails no one else is to take the blame.
Digging deeper into these outages, one can come to an easy conclusion of lack-of-visibility that resulted in taking wrong decisions based on assumptions. Apart from the businesses’ losses, who loses the most? It's the end users who put their trust in the application.
When APM was introduced, it was just used to monitor and manage applications. Today, however, it has become more complex. Today APM is a type of system-management application which focuses on monitoring and managing resources that in turn determine the health and availability of all Web and non-Web-based business-critical applications. We could say that virtualization and cloud has enhanced the efficiency and productivity of IT.
However, we also cannot deny the fact that it has also brought in a huge management complexity. Amidst this complexity APM cannot just be about dashboards with green and red lights showing availability of resources. Today an application is inter-linked with hundreds of other devices.
Efficient APM is all about giving insights into the inter-dependency of all devices and showing various business transactions that are taking place to realize what an end-user is experiencing. Here I remember one of my previous blogs on the 5 dimensions of APM. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to create systems that are robust and can give real-time visibility into events and transactions that are in progress or complete.
One of the major (and most common problems) I have observed is the lack of visibility into the IT infrastructure. This leads to not being able to prioritize events based on their importance to business. An effective APM strategy allows organizations to view the impact on businesses and map them to different transactions. But how can one adapt an efficient APM process when different monitoring solutions are being used?
Unless IT operations and IT service management are brought together it’s nearly impossible to analyze the following:
- Which component is impacting what applications
- How various transactions are being experienced by end-users
- What’s the SLA breach with status of various technicians who have been assigned to manage tickets
Yes, I am talking about that holistic solution which will give you visibility into all that is happening in the real-time IT environment on a single console.
Such solutions will:
- Enhance productivity and efficiency between teams
- Help in prioritizing events that have an impact on business transactions and can be viewed with interdependency mapping
- Allow proactive monitoring and management of systems as thresholds set for one application will take care of all the other underlying configured-system components
- Enhance the end-user experience as visibility allows in optimizing the resource-allocation process
- Allow accurate decisions to happen as KPIs will indicate the overall performance and with integrated CMDB and other ITIL processes like Change and Incident management. This makes decisions even easier as all data related to configurable items are stored in a single location
- Optimize budget allocation and management
A complete APM strategy and solution offers benefits that are measurable. The result is an agile and productive environment. This allows enterprises to break IT silos and view IT as a single entity. Organizations can concentrate more on innovations that make end-users lives easy, than falling behind in fixing system issues.
Suvish Viswanathan is Sr. Research Analyst, Integrated IT Management, for ManageEngine.