APM as a Cornerstone of Major IT Projects
May 08, 2012

Steve Tack
Dynatrace

Share this

Ask an IT leader what projects are currently top-of-list and you're apt to hear one or even all of the following: cloud computing, virtualization and data center consolidation. All three efforts have a common goal – reduce the cost of compute capacity while delivering needed agility and flexibility to support shifting priorities. Regardless of the reason for the change, IT teams expect to reap many benefits when adopting the latest in computing technology. These include efficiency; higher performance and scalability to support more demanding enterprise workloads and larger groups of users; and relative speed of implementation.

But in this never-ending mission to do more with less, IT teams often lose sight of the need for careful, end-user-focused application performance management (APM). After all, the delivery of fast, reliable, high-quality applications to end users must be the ultimate measure of success for any of these projects. If these projects aren't managed with explicit user-experience objectives, IT can introduce risks that can reduce or even eliminate the potential business benefits.

The reality is that initiatives like cloud computing and virtualization can wreak havoc on the end-user experience. For instance, many third-party cloud services are opaque, meaning that businesses using public cloud services often have little insight into the overall health of the computing infrastructure, and little say in their cloud service providers’ capacity management decisions. As a result, if a particular cloud customer’s neighbor in the cloud experiences a spike in traffic, chances are the speed and availability of the cloud customer’s own business-critical, cloud-based services and applications may suffer.

The big guys in the industry have really dug deep and proved that milliseconds matter. Google found that an extra 500 milliseconds in loading time resulted in a 20 percent drop in traffic. That's just half a second to lose 1/5th of your visitors! The cost of poor performance is huge, both in terms of lost revenues and employee productivity.

Even a slight reduction in application performance can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity each quarter. If you move a critical application to the cloud, you must understand how end users on the other side of the cloud – whether they're employees or customers – are experiencing the application, otherwise you risk losing your expected cost-savings. APM centered on the end-user experience must therefore be central to your cloud strategy.

Private cloud and virtualized infrastructure projects also pose a serious threat to the end-user experience. In many virtualization initiatives, IT tends to treat infrastructure utilization metrics as the ultimate end-game. But, the relevant metric shouldn't be how many virtual machines have been created and to what extent are infrastructure resources being maximized. Rather, the relevant metric needs to be at what point of utilization does the end-user experience begin to degrade, such that that point should not be surpassed? Will our applications perform as well or better after virtualization? Only a commitment to APM based on the end-user experience can answer this question.

Finally, an understanding of the end-user experience helps guide smarter decisions as major projects are being carried out. Case in point are data center consolidation and other infrastructure change projects. A first critical step must be to baseline the current performance of applications and transactions. Then, IT needs to test all applications with the new configuration, as well as map all applications, storage and network changes, making data center consolidation projects very time-consuming and complex.

Once the new data center changes are in place, IT needs to continually measure the applications to ensure they perform as expected, with no impact to end users. The common antidotes to all these various phases of a consolidation project are tools that enable effective management of application infrastructure through an understanding of the end-user experience, as well as the ability to trace transaction flows across the environment. If the end-user perspective is factored in properly throughout the entire project, IT teams can better avoid re-work and re-dos that can lengthen costly “overlap” periods between new and existing infrastructure, and keep overall project costs and timeframes down.

Understanding the end-user experience is a cornerstone to helping IT teams deal with the adoption of new technologies and the management of complex projects. Today, successful IT teams are adopting a new generation of APM that is driven from the end-user experience. It's all about the end user and the view of their world of the application – not just about infrastructure – and it's built into the entire application lifecycle, from development, to testing, to production. This approach allows IT teams to deploy applications faster and resolve problems more quickly and have more confidence in application performance once in production.

This new generation of APM is achieved through a unified, automated solution that offers comprehensive coverage of the entire application delivery chain and traces every transaction in production from the end-user click all the way to the database and back at code-level depth.

Steve Tack is CTO of Compuware’s Application Performance Management Business Unit.

Steve Tack is Chief Technology Officer of Compuware's Application Performance Management (APM) business where he leads the expansion of the company's APM product portfolio and market presence. He is a software and IT services veteran with expertise in application and web performance management, SaaS, cloud computing, end-user experience monitoring and mobile applications. Steve is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and his articles have appeared in a variety of business and technology publications.
Share this

The Latest

October 21, 2021

Scaling DevOps and SRE practices is critical to accelerating the release of high-quality digital services. However, siloed teams, manual approaches, and increasingly complex tooling slow innovation and make teams more reactive than proactive, impeding their ability to drive value for the business, according to a new report from Dynatrace, Deep Cloud Observability and Advanced AIOps are Key to Scaling DevOps Practices ...

October 20, 2021

Over three quarters (79%) of database professionals are now using either a paid-for or in-house monitoring tool, according to a new survey from Redgate Software ...

October 19, 2021

Gartner announced the top strategic technology trends that organizations need to explore in 2022. With CEOs and Boards striving to find growth through direct digital connections with customers, CIOs' priorities must reflect the same business imperatives, which run through each of Gartner's top strategic tech trends for 2022 ...

October 18, 2021

Distributed tracing has been growing in popularity as a primary tool for investigating performance issues in microservices systems. Our recent DevOps Pulse survey shows a 38% increase year-over-year in organizations' tracing use. Furthermore, 64% of those respondents who are not yet using tracing indicated plans to adopt it in the next two years ...

October 14, 2021

Businesses are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to improve network performance and security, according to a new State of AIOps Study, conducted by ZK Research and Masergy ...

October 13, 2021

What may have appeared to be a stopgap solution in the spring of 2020 is now clearly our new workplace reality: It's impossible to walk back so many of the developments in workflow we've seen since then. The question is no longer when we'll all get back to the office, but how the companies that are lagging in their technological ability to facilitate remote work can catch up ...

October 12, 2021

The pandemic accelerated organizations' journey to the cloud to enable agile, on-demand, flexible access to resources, helping them align with a digital business's dynamic needs. We heard from many of our customers at the start of lockdown last year, saying they had to shift to a remote work environment, seemingly overnight, and this effort was heavily cloud-reliant. However, blindly forging ahead can backfire ...

October 07, 2021

SmartBear recently released the results of its 2021 State of Software Quality | Testing survey. I doubt you'll be surprised to hear that a "lack of time" was reported as the number one challenge to doing more testing, especially as release frequencies continue to increase. However, it was disheartening to see that a lack of time was also the number one response when we asked people to identify the biggest blocker to professional development ...

October 06, 2021

The role of the CIO is evolving with an increased focus on unlocking customer connections through service innovation, according to the 2021 Global CIO Survey. The study reveals the shift in the role of the CIO with the majority of CIO respondents stating innovation, operational efficiency, and customer experience as their top priorities ...

October 05, 2021

The perception of IT support has dramatically improved thanks to the successful response of service desks to the pandemic, lockdowns and working from home, according to new research from the Service Desk Institute (SDI), sponsored by Sunrise Software ...