Breaking Down the Silos of Enterprise IT with Business Transaction Management
March 20, 2012

Linh Ho

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It's no secret that we live in a siloed enterprise IT world. Many attempts have been made to better connect functional departments before but it seems like very little progress has been made. Not only are the different applications that underpin common business processes run as fiefdoms, but the distributed tiered nature of modern application architecture creates walls around functions and tiers. When you add operations to the mix you have multiple stakeholders with conflicting agendas, delegating application performance to the firefighting exercise that ensures once business is severely impacted.

How many times have you been on an all-hands call where there was subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) finger pointing across the aisle because no one wanted to take the hit for why an application or business process is performing slow, or even worse, went down. It's not their fault though. Siloed tiers and applications are technically necessary to maximize the capabilities of enterprise systems. The advent of distributed architectures has led to greatly improved software to run our businesses. However, the management of these processes has become just as siloed, making problem identification and resolution infinitely more complex.

The problem is that the tools we are using today to manage applications originate in the days of simplified architectures. The early days of APM featured ground-breaking capabilities in dissecting deep dive performance of each individual tier within the overall infrastructure. By using application diagnostic technologies, app owners got better and knew more about their application performance than they ever could before. Their knowledge became more specialized. They developed a turf, and as the owner of the turf it becomes an us vs them mentality.

BTM – Smashing the Silos of IT

That's where business transaction management (BTM) comes into play. By adding BTM capabilities to a traditional APM architecture, we begin to move past the siloed world of the early days of APM. BTM bypasses that entire "hey where is the problem?" step and enables joint cooperative approaches to optimization or avoidance of issues. It tells you where the problem is, and the tier specialists can go in and run their deep dive tools to find out more about the problem so that they can solve it as quickly as possible.

I've heard several large enterprise customers tout this benefit. For example one big bank told us "Before we needed almost 20 people to isolate where the problem is, now I can do that in 5 min by myself” and “before we implemented BTM, we were investigating a slow screen problem for almost 3 weeks, once we installed we could see in a minute that it is a local desktop problem and not an application backend problem”. This is obviously great for ROI as it helps companies solve performance issues more quickly. But it also adds the additional benefit of creating a healthier, more collaborative organization.

When application owners and/or operations can go right to the source of the problem without requiring data from the stakeholders to find it, we have less pressure within the organization. There’s less finger pointing. Our app owners don't give up their specialized knowledge, but they no longer have to defend themselves against the whole group while the problem is being isolated. This is the path of least resistance in managing applications and functions as a pressure release valve on the entire IT organization.

Now, you may have some folks who love being in a silo because they want to own a domain (and hide a little bit from the spotlight). That’s poison to application performance management. Letting old world thinking like this persist will sabotage the very goals your strategy is working towards as you enable better collaboration across silos and across the IT business divide.

With BTM, there is no sense in hiding. The numbers don’t lie, and they make everyone’s life better. Dynamic topologies don’t have a preference to one application team or a tendency to point to infrastructure as the cause of issues. If the problem is in a domain, BTM will find it and tell everyone not to waste time elsewhere and it will help the domain owner get to resolution faster. Yes, there will still be people who will find it hard to deal with transparency, but the organizations who need to compete will force such folks to adapt or else.

Now, I’m not trying to paint a picture of the entire IT department holding hands and singing Kumbaya (although you have to admit that would be pretty funny). There will always be conflicts, internal agendas and politics within any organization. But you can remove those traps from your application performance management strategy and just focus on the results – better performing apps that are managed in unison – for always-on business with little interference from the natural silo-ing of IT to distort reality and performance.

Linh C. Ho is VP of Corporate Marketing at OpTier.

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