You Can't Manage What You Can't See: The Importance of Visibility
July 26, 2012

Pamela Roussos

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In my last blog Application Success, Business Success and the Rise of DevOps I discussed the rise of DevOps in today’s businesses – how customers today interact directly with services and applications served up by IT, which puts DevOps right at the nexus between customers and the business.

This fundamental shift in how businesses are interacting with customers makes ‘information silos’ more of a business risk than ever before, because of the intertwined relationship between business risk and system metrics.

In too many of today’s companies, people are still focused on their own stack of information and data, without the benefit of seeing how they all impact each other. The business manager is focused on business metrics – the measurements of business activity: production numbers, ROI, cost competitiveness, cost of acquiring customers, churn rates – metrics that company leaders have established as critical for making sound business decisions. Developers at the company are focused on Log Files that provide a good trail to understand what is happening in code to potentially assist in diagnosing problems. Meanwhile the IT Operations team is consumed with infrastructure metrics: unplanned outages, login failures, time spent resolving incidents, unauthorized changes, user downtime and service availability to name a few.

Visibility at Every Level, for Every Role, is Key

If companies were to move away from the silo approach, they would see that the collection, aggregation and correlation of application, server, log file and process data, along with key business metrics and performance data, would give everyone the same powerful view of the business.

This new view enables an unprecedented, predictive insight into business risks. Think of the clear and informed view of the business that could be achieved if all key stakeholders took this approach, gaining visibility into key business metrics along with systems metrics – an at-a-glance, shared view of business and systems risk data.

Such a view would empower technology execs and management to drive innovation, directing internal development resources on creating features and functionality that end users would value. DevOps would also be transformed - with complete visibility into an entire application running in production, multi-data source collection, and at-a-glance visibility into business metrics. They would also be able to quickly narrow down problems as they arise, rather than after customers start complaining.

The word that invariably comes up in discussions is the desire to be proactive. We have been told by our customers that having such visibility into the root cause of issues has enabled them to decrease problem resolution time of resource and configuration related issues by up to 90 percent.

For instance, you see a business red flag for a serious decrease in logins. The same live ‘dashboard’ report shows memory on a web server is extremely high, enabling instant action to address the problem. A shared view of business and system metrics can drive innovation throughout the organization.

For example, as an eCommerce provider, knowing your customer’s usage patterns can assist you with knowing when to make “special offers” available to increase revenue while at the same time understanding the load it will put on your system so you can ensure you have enough resources to handle it. With at-a-glance understanding of business and system risks, everyone is engaged in problem-resolution and innovation to drive the company forward.

Pamela Roussos is CMO of AppFirst.

Related Links:

Application Success, Business Success and the Rise of DevOps

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