Q&A: Gartner Talks About APM - Part One
November 01, 2011
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In Part One of APMdigest's exclusive interview, Will Cappelli, Gartner Research VP in Enterprise Management, talks about the growing importance of Application Performance Management.

APM: Where does management of critical applications lie on the Chief Technology Officer's to do list? Are you seeing CTO's take more interest in application performance?

Absolutely. There is no question that not only has the general interest in application performance monitoring or management increased, but the level of interest in the area has increased significantly over the last year. Approximately 20-25% of the inquiries I get about APM has some kind of executive involvement. It is either being asked directly by the CIO or by a representative of the CIOs office. The overall general interest in the subject matter has increased investment in the technology, but the profile of the application performance management problem space as risen in the organizational hierarchy as well.

APM: Are the C-level executives checking an APM dashboard periodically throughout the day?

Actually, yes. There is always some overstatement with regard to the degree with which the higher-level executives actually look at these dashboards on a regular basis, not just for APM but for many of these kinds of metrics. But we do find that there is a demand for higher-level business-oriented dashboards and they are available to the C-level executives who will give them the occasional lookover. Clearly the demand is there. And if you look at the many of the recent releases of APM products, they are accompanied now by higher-level dashboarding capabilities.

APM: Is application performance becoming the new playing field were business and IT are meeting today?

It is certainly an area where there is a lot of intersection of concerns – for the obvious reason that applications are precisely the point at which IT intersects the business processes, and more and more business processes are grounding themselves in IT-based applications.

So there has been an increased interest in applications, on the business side, because the business has become aware of the role that IT plays in helping to generate revenues, and sees what IT is doing for the business, primarily in terms of applications. It has also helped that, on the consumer side, the entire world has become much more aware of the concept of the application, and that has given a vocabulary to the business executive to allow him or her to talk about application performance.

So there are a lot of different factors that are converging that make application performance management and monitoring the subject of interest to the business executive. And indeed an interesting point to make in general about the market is that one of the drivers for the interest in APM on the part of IT was the fact that the businesses began to demand it. Around the 2006-2007 time frame, it was the business side that pulled IT operations away from its historical focus on infrastructure and infrastructure events to a focus on applications as the organizing principle for enterprise management.

APM: The recent Gartner Magic Quadrant on APM states that 20% of the Global 2000 are reconstructing their IT on monitoring and management of applications rather than infrastructure. Why one rather than the other? Why not both?

Certainly, one needs to continue to monitor the infrastructure. But unless you are monitoring the application, and the application's behavior and performance, the data that you are getting from the infrastructure is going to be very difficult to make sense out of. It is going to be very difficult to effectively utilize. Once you are monitoring application performance, suddenly the infrastructure monitoring becomes a lot more valuable. Without APM as a structuring principle, there is an enormous complexity and a lack of clarity as to the meaning of the events that are taking place at the infrastructure level.

So, yes, in the ideal world you would do both application performance monitoring and infrastructure monitoring, but even if you could invest in full monitoring up and down the stack, it would still make sense to organize all of that around the monitoring of the application's performance.

APM: APM is growing in popularity right around the same time that cloud is taking hold. Are these two events connected? Do you see APM becoming more necessary because of cloud and virtualization?

I think they are related to one another. Whether you're using cloud-based infrastructure components, cloud-based platform components or cloud-based applications themselves, your ability to monitor the infrastructure becomes limited. So you are increasingly reliant upon what you can monitor from the application's perspective, to get information about what is going on in your system.

Then, within APM, end-user experience monitoring becomes essential, because it is a question of what you can see. Your ability to at least see the external, user-facing aspects of the application is significantly greater. So we are finding that as organizations are deploying cloud more aggressively, they rely more heavily upon APM, and within APM, end-user experience monitoring and all of the analytical capabilities that come with these systems.

Click here to read Part Two of the APMdigest interview with Will Cappelli, Gartner Research VP in Enterprise Management.

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