How to Avoid Mobile Application Meltdown
Mobile Computing: A Whole New Approach to APM
November 18, 2011
Zohar Gilad
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Consumer mobile apps are everywhere, but many CIOs are just beginning to consider how to best distribute mobile apps to workers and customers. Companies with more progressive outlooks are developing their own internal app stores, and analyzing which legacy apps should go mobile and which third-party apps to support. In the rush to meet the needs of the business, and keep pace with demands from customers and partners who crave mobile access, IT risks making some missteps.

The consumer IT movement means that expectations for performance have changed dramatically. Developers and IT managers need to understand the requirements for “instant-on” apps, which launch at the touch of a finger and work flawlessly all the time. If an application stops working, the user will ditch it and go download something else. So what can you do to avoid mobile application meltdown and failed ROI?

Performance in the Mobile World

There are many differences between mobile, distributed computing and computing of the past -- in which users and applications were tethered to the desktop. For one, most enterprise IT departments have limited visibility beyond servers.

In the mobile world, IT needs to determine how to efficiently and accurately trace the transaction to a single user’s device -- no matter whether the device runs Android, Apple iOS, Windows or something else. That requires a new approach to monitoring, and possibly, new tools and processes based on user-centric experiences. From the narrow angle of the server side performance, response times may seem peachy. In reality, due to inefficient website implementation (e.g. multiple roundtrips) or a slow network, users may suffer.

Then IT must consider the vast number of different locations from where users will be accessing corporate data and applications on their mobile devices. The more variability -- users who log on from home, the airport, over corporate or public cloud connections -- the more complicated troubleshooting will be for the IT team. Also, IT has a higher incidence of unexpected use patterns, as more people log on during unpredictable hours and from unknown locations.

With so many different potential issues and devices to monitor, not to mention higher volumes of traffic altogether, a sophisticated alert system based on historical trend analysis will help IT stay in the driver’s seat.

What is the threshold for each device and operating system, after which performance will likely begin to suffer? How do certain geographic regions and common user locations (e.g. metropolitan airports) differ from others when it comes to performance and network reliability? Alerts should be customized for a much larger number of potential situations and scenarios so that IT can respond appropriately -- versus a costly and ineffective one-size-fits-all approach.

Website and IT managers need to consider how well their public and private sites are optimized for mobile access. Many enterprise applications today, particularly legacy ones, don’t run well from the mobile Web. Best coding practices for supporting mobile clients include minimizing the number of “round trips” or the requests from client to server such as client-side redirection and loading only the content that the user needs to see right now, often called “lazy loading”.

Finally, application managers will need to develop and monitor a much larger number of performance baselines. Most organizations are supporting multiple different platforms across the user base. This means that there is no such thing anymore as a single transaction baseline, related to a hardwired PC. To compare apples to apples, application monitoring must be segmented by network and platform (e.g. LAN user, WiFi user, teleworker, mobile user by device) so when things go wrong you can locate exactly the problem spot.

In our mobile world, maintaining the status quo for application performance isn’t viable. Employees and customers now have much more power when it comes to information technology. Enterprise mobile computing is bound to have vast and still unknown implications on the practice of application performance management. Yet being proactive with a mobile APM strategy can deliver a whole new level of business productivity and innovation to delight employees and end customers alike.

About Zohar Gilad

Zohar Gilad is Executive Vice President, Products, Marketing and Channels at Precise Software. Before joining Precise, Zohar held several senior executive positions with Mercury Interactive, acquired by HP in 2006. At Mercury, Zohar drove expansion into new markets, creating new product categories: Load Testing, Quality Management, Application Management, and finally Business Technology Optimization. From 2000-2003, as the General Manager of the Application Management business unit, he helped grow the business from $0 to about $100M a year. Prior to joining Mercury, Zohar held software development positions at IBM and Daisy Systems.

Related Links:

www.precise.com

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