What is BSM Anyway?
The Unique Relationship Between APM, Infrastructure and the End-User Experience
April 19, 2011
Pete Goldin
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Defining BSM has always been a challenge. Many tool vendors have their own definitions of BSM, or use other terms such as ITSM, BTM or APM instead of BSM. At BSMdigest, we are not too strict about the semantics – we like to focus on the BSM concept, which includes all of these technologies.

In 2006 I wrote an article for BSMdigest – which I have included in this issue – stating that end-user monitoring was a key to BSM. It was easy to make that pronouncement, but the BSM technology did not live up to that expectation at the time. Today, I think there may be an answer: The new generation of Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solutions.

In the past, BSM has depended mostly on infrastructure monitoring. The new generation of APM tools not only look at performance from the inside, such as resource utilization, but also from the outside, from the end-user perspective.

“One of the biggest complaints the market has about BSM is that it does not reflect the end-user experience,” explains Berkay Mollamustafaoglu, Product Strategy Manager, Netuitive, Inc. “Everything may look fine according to your infrastructure monitoring tools, but the application could still be slow, the user could still be experiencing a performance problem.”

Agents on the user's desktop and transaction management are two effective components of APM that enable you to gain new visibility into the user's perspective and manage response times. Desktop agents are the most clear cut way to visualize the end-user experience but obviously it is not always possible to deploy an agent on every user's desktop. Business Transaction Management (BTM) provides reliable insight into the end-user experience, however, by monitoring the performance of all the components involved in completing a transaction.

“But once you have identified an issue with the user experience, you still have to find a way to determine the root cause and resolve the problem via infrastructure monitoring tools,” Berkay continues. “We are starting to see large enterprises using advanced self-learning analytics as a way to show context between dynamic virtual infrastructure performance and end-user experience data being generated by APM tools to deliver on the vision of Business Service Management.”

“In cloud and virtual environments it becomes even more important to have both infrastructure monitoring and end-user monitoring, to be able to do true capacity management,” he adds. “You have to optimize your resource allocation so that you can maintain fast response times. APM allows you to see the response times, and see where you can optimize the infrastructure to maintain acceptable response times, by adding servers, memory or CPU. You need these new tools to support new paradigms in the virtual world. Seeing the state of the business service is not the end goal.”

With the emergence of a new breed of APM tools and the migration to virtual and cloud environments, BSM is at a crossroads. This is probably a good time to officially evolve our definition of BSM to include APM, BTM, self-learning analytics and, most importantly, the end-user experience.

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