CIO and End-to-End Transaction Visibility
July 29, 2012

Stacy Gorkoff

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With each installment of this seven-part blog series we will be taking a close look at how various IT and applications support teams benefit from end-to-end transaction visibility.

Start with Part 1: Who Owns the End-to-End Transaction?

Start with Part 2: Why Applications Support Managers Need End-to-End Transaction Visibility

Start with Part 3: IT Operations and End-to-End Transaction Visibility

Start with Part 4: Why Application Developers Need End-to-End Transaction Visibility

Start with Part 5: Do Database Managers Need End-to-End Transaction Visibility?

Start with Part 6: Application Operations and End-to-End Transaction Visibility

For most of this series, various IT teams and managers who deal with the technology of the business were considered as the owners of end-to-end application performance - Application Developers, IT Operations teams, Database Managers, Application Support, and the Application Operations group.  Each clearly owns at least a part of the overall challenge. And each benefits significantly from the visibility gained into the end-to-end transaction from transaction-based Application Performance Monitoring solutions. As a consequence, each can participate more effectively in a culture of efficiency that arises from a shared transaction monitoring framework.

Bridging the Gap Between IT and the Business

In the previous blog, it seemed that we found the true owner amongst the IT groups - the newly emergent Application Operations team with its broad mandate to manage coherently all applications and the underlying application environment. That role certainly has all the hallmarks of end-to-end performance ownership. But...

Something is still missing from this picture. Critical application performance might belong to the Application Operations team - but defining and managing the performance objectives still belongs to the CIO who drives IT for the sake of business.

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are ultimately responsible for ensuring that IT investments are closely aligned with strategic business objectives. They are the key executive driving information assets, policies, and IT operations. The CIO must oversee management of everything from the desktop environment, to core infrastructure architecture and support, software development, network operations, data management and compliance, and relationships with vendors, partners and 3rd party service providers. By nature, the CIO’s role is both strategic and tactical and is manifested in the IT policies that are defined and implemented.

The role responsibilities of the CIO include:

- Effectively coordinating and managing all the different IT teams and units

- Understanding and developing the metrics and reports relating IT and application utilization to business objectives and opportunity

- Making effective and timely decisions in a rapidly changing IT environment

- Managing the relationships with vendors, 3rd parties, and business partners based on performance goals specific to business outcomes

- Establishing IT policies and encouraging the business to innovate and realize new potential and efficiencies through technology choices

- Keeping the whole system operating reliably day-to-day (IT operations)

- Defining, tracking and reporting IT performance metrics to other executives and business units

- Negotiating, justifying and managing the IT budget to align with overall objectives

Within these responsibilities are elements of all the key deliverables from the IT teams. Not surprising - they all report to the CIO, directly or indirectly.  More than ever, visibility into the end-to-end performance of the IT production environment is just as important to the CIO as to any of the teams. Direct and timely access to critical performance data is no longer a luxury - it is an essential.  But now it is much harder to achieve in the midst of rapid IT change

A Tsunami of Change

Today’s CIOs are faced with a dramatically varying IT seascape through which the ship of business must be safely sailed.  Virtualization and the Cloud have introduced major opportunities for cost reduction, resource management and IT efficiencies - yet they represent a tsunami of change for IT teams and processes. Agile development has driven the evolution of applications, vastly increasing their rate of change, complexity and diversity. The ecology of managed platforms and 3rd party services has exploded with new options and alternatives - increasing IT dependencies and reliance on SLAs. Customer expectations have risen steadily with more and different ways of accessing business services - the trifecta of mobile, location, and social networks tends to infect everything, even those businesses which have not traditionally been customer-facing. Nothing, it seems, is as it once was. 

For the business, this new IT environment represents great opportunity and great risk. And it is up to the CIO to manage the challenge.

Thinking and Acting in Terms of the Whole

To overcome these challenges, the CIO relies on good people, effective processes, and excellent execution. However inefficiencies (and worse) are often found where visibility is poor and people are left to cope. This is especially true when the people are outside of direct control - such as 3rd party, Cloud and managed services. Seeing into and across the end-to-end IT environment is essential - for the IT teams as well as the CIO. Meaningful performance metrics are needed to govern SLAs and technology relationships - ones that are specific to end-user experience and business outcomes.  Business performance needs to be measurable in terms of changes in IT infrastructure performance.

Most approaches to Application Performance Management (APM) tend to fall short on certain details - depending on the approach, there may be a lack of infrastructure data, or no end-to-end view, or no measures of end-user experience. And most APM solutions fall short defining IT performance in terms of business metrics - how the business itself is performing.

Smooth Sailing with Transaction-Based APM

Transaction-based Application Performance Management - otherwise known as Business Transaction Management (BTM) - provides that end-to-end visibility into critical business transactions, monitors the performance of multi-tiered applications, and manages complex network infrastructures that involve a mixture of on-premise, virtual, Cloud-based, and third party software-as-a-service components. It passively monitors at the network level, allowing for rapid adoption and scalability without impacting infrastructure or the applications. BTM naturally extends into 3rd party, virtualized, and Cloud environments without requiring special permissions or access. It acts as an end-to-end, top-to-bottom source of critical performance data.

Detailed business intelligence derived directly from transaction performance data is the benefit of transaction-based monitoring.  The CIO can see and measure revenue rates and application response times with respect to underlying technologies such as virtualization.  Customer satisfaction can be related directly to the response times of each distinct IT component, including the 3rd party services.  Customer churn and drop rates can be measured as a function of each step of an application workflow.  These metrics are the basis upon which strategic planning and execution can effectively take place. Less guesswork and more solid facts.

Through transaction-based application performance monitoring, the CIO has well-defined relationships between IT performance and metrics specific to business outcomes.  And that is what is ultimately needed for smooth sailing, even in the roughest seas.

This is the seventh and final blog in a seven-part series:

Part 1: Who Owns the End-to-End Transaction?

Part 2: Why Applications Support Managers Need End-to-End Transaction Visibility

Part 3: IT Operations and End-to-End Transaction Visibility

Part 4: Why Application Developers Need End-to-End Transaction Visibility

Part 5: Do Database Managers Need End-to-End Transaction Visibility?

Part 6: Application Operations and End-to-End Transaction Visibility

Stacy Gorkoff is Director of Strategic Marketing for INETCO.

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