An Interview with Compuware CTO of APM - Part Two
August 24, 2011
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In Part Two of BSMdigest’s exclusive interview,Steve Tack, CTO of Compuware’s Application Performance Management Business Unit, talks about Compuware APM, mobile web performance and more.

BSM: Recent PR states that Compuware serves 5 of the top 6 largest Internet retailers. What is the key to web application performance management for these companies with massive amounts of continuous traffic?

ST: One of the key strategies of these large retailers is they start from the perspective of the user experience. And that is a different approach than someone who might start with monitoring the data center infrastructure. Each of these large retailers look at what is happening at the edge of the Internet, how users are engaged with their website, and how the performance of the website will relate back to business results. And to help a company drive that, they need a rich set of capabilities – the ability to cover the different ways users engage with the site to be able to have the geographic scope and coverage; the ability to look at metrics broader than just response time; the ability to see how a site works across different browsers and users, and smartphones, and different combinations of those devices; the ability to support a lifecycle approach to performance, in pre-production as well as production. Each of those areas has an influence on the overall performance and Business Service Management strategy.

BSM: Does Gomez provide insight into how performance is impacting conversion rates?

ST: Yes. One of the unique capabilities of Compuware, we get insight into how all the different users behave. So we can show the relation between user response time and convergence and abandonment, for example. Through a real user monitoring approach, we can show response time of the page, as well the aggregate view of what time people start to bail out of the site. That type of insight can help our customers understand what is the true expectation of the user demographic and how performance influences buying behavior.

BSM: A Compuware survey recently stated that 94% of US mobile news sites do not meet consumers' expectations. What are the new performance issues that must be solved by companies delivering websites and apps to mobile users?

ST: One of the key technology trends is that the client and the browser is playing a greater role in the overall transaction. So as people have increased processing capability, on smartphones and tablets for example, more and more of that transaction is moving to the browser and the device. So companies need more of that user experience perspective to complement what is going on in the data center. Simply by monitoring your data center performance alone, you are going to be blind to a large part of the transaction.

BSM: What is the solution for companies to guarantee mobile performance?

ST: The companies that we see doing it well are following two strategies. The first strategy is that it all starts with the end-user. The application experience is driven through the eyes of the end-user because there is no way to manage all the pit stops along the application delivery chain and aggregate that into what you think the user is experiencing. You have to look at everything that is happening from the data center to the ISP to the third-party components that are delivering the apps all the way down to the browser and device itself.

The second strategy that we find companies on the front end of mobile performance, who are known for delivering good user experiences, take a “Mobile First” strategy. They will look at how they can optimize this experience from a mobile site perspective and then they address how that will also drive a broader “One Web” strategy for the different user consumption points.

BSM: How do you monitor the application from the browser on a real user’s mobile device?

ST: There are two approaches Compuware takes. One is the real user activity. We have developed technology that will capture the user's interactions on a mobile website – response time, availability and all the various attributes of that user. The real user monitoring strategy is absolutely critical for those areas because that is the only approach to really understand what your users are doing and what type of performance and service you are delivering to them.

The second approach is to do synthetic transactions from key geographic locations. This could be used to understand performance on an operational perspective across key geographies.

Whenever you want to make sure the business services address your users needs, you need a combination of both real user data and a synthetic strategy.

BSM: Compuware marketing states that you provide the only unified view across the entire application delivery chain. What parts of this chain are the other vendors missing?

ST: It depends on the company. There are a lot of vendors in the space that have a rich heritage in the data center, starting from the mainframe and providing certain types of views into performance, but they neglect what is happening on the Internet side, whether it be from the mobile performance aspect or geographic performance across the world. Other companies have grown up on the Internet side, where their insight is solely from the website. When something is going wrong with the data center, they have zero visibility into that area. Companies require visibility from the edge of the Internet all the way to the data center and into third parties to effectively manage their applications. You can't just look at the Internet side or just the data center side, you also have to look at third parties and services and content to truly understand what you need to do to manage your application.

BSM: Explain how Compuware's Global Performance Network works.

ST: Many companies service a global population and they need to understand how their performance works for their applications on a global basis. Whether they have a consolidated data center or multiple data centers, they really need that breadth of visibility in terms of understanding performance problems across geographies. The only way they can get that visibility and understand how their users are being serviced through the various demographics is a global testing network.

As part of the Global Performance Network, Compuware has built a backbone, through points of presence in data centers and service providers across the globe. And we have also built out what we call our Last Mile Network, a community of users in 150,000+ locations around the world. The Last Mile Network gives you true insight into what the user is experiencing. The Gomez Last Mile Network is the only offering out there of its kind that can give you that true insight down to the local ISP to what is happening on the user's desktop.

BSM: How will Compuware customers benefit from the dynaTrace acquisition?

ST: The dynaTrace acquisition will provide a couple of key capabilities to our customers. First, dynaTrace provides these companies with the ability to look at information earlier in that application lifecycle. Now our customers will benefit from an offering that they can take throughout the performance lifecycle.

Another key value point is the concept of transaction tracing, looking at the granular experience of the individual user. That level of granularity is provided by dynaTrace. Through the combination of Gomez platform and dynaTrace, we will be able to provide our customers with both that aggregate view across the application delivery chain, all the way down to the individual customer transaction from the browser, and all the way through application performance in the data center.

Click here to read Part One of the BSMdigest interview with Steve Tack, CTO of Compuware’s Application Performance Management (APM) Business Unit.

About Steve Tack

Steve Tack is CTO of Compuware’s Application Performance Management (APM) Business Unit, leading the expansion of Compuware'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. Tack is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and his articles have appeared in a variety of business and technology publications.

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