Experience IT differently: New ways to monitor application performance

When I was a kid, my parents used to think they could control what I did even when they weren’t around. Unlike my parents, IT used to be able to control who was accessing applications, and when and how they accessed them; but that’s not the case anymore. Users (both internal and external) can access many applications from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. And when those users access an application, they expect quick results.

When it really comes down to it, none of us care about what’s going on inside any application, as long as we get the results we want and expect. When I get in my car, the last thing I worry about is whether or not the engine, gaskets, wheels, brakes, etc. are all working. All I really care about is whether I can get where I need to go – using my car and traveling on the roads I choose along the way – as quickly and safely as possible. And when users access an e-commerce, claims portal or any other web application, all they care about is whether their end-to-end transactions are processed quickly and accurately. If your end-users don’t get the results they expect, their productivity goes down, and if they actually make the effort to report an issue to the service desk, your IT Support/Operations staff can waste substantial time and effort trying to figure out what is going wrong and why.

So whether you are driving in your car, checking payment/billing status or purchasing an item online, it’s essential to monitor overall performance from the end user’s perspective in order to identify failed end-user transactions and potential performance bottlenecks, and determine the likely impact those issues may have on your business. Armed with end user experience data, you can determine how pervasive an issue is (i.e., how many and which users are affected, and in which locations), whether the problem results when certain types of devices (or cars) are used to access the application, and what paths (i.e. through which components) their transactions must take to complete successfully. All of this data helps you to isolate where a problem is occurring (i.e., in the data center or in a provider’s environment, in the application, web, or database server, etc.) so that you can assign the issue to the right team to resolve.

When applications were fully contained within the data center, it was easy for traditional application performance monitoring tools to gather performance data from a single location. That’s no longer the case. Modern, composite applications are distributed broadly both in and outside the data center, and consume/feed a variety of business services. A single application may involve dedicated as well as shared physical, virtual, and cloud resources scattered across several geographies and businesses. It may include services such as payment processing and accelerated content delivery that are supplied by outside providers. To obtain universal visibility into application performance, you need an APM solution that can gather performance data from a wide variety of data sources (some internal and some external), consolidate it, analyze it, and present it within a single performance management console. By combining data from all sources, you can quickly determine end-to-end transaction processing times and performance bottlenecks.

But it’s not enough to know if your end-users are experiencing performance issues and where those issues are occurring. If my car stops working, the auto body shop needs additional diagnostic data to figure out the cause(s) so it can resolve them. If failures or performance problems arise, it’s equally important for you to be able to drill-down and zero in on root causes within the application code, as well as the underlying infrastructure. For example, your performance data should include device information to enable you to determine if a problem is isolated to certain mobile devices, and drill-down to specific lines of code (or infrastructure) that are the most likely root cause.

And it’s vital that the data be delivered in real-time. I don’t want to know that I’ve already run out of gas – I want a warning that gives me some time to locate the nearest gas station and fill my tank up. This immediacy of information enables IT staff to proactively find and fix issues before users call the service desk, and in many cases, even before users realize that there is an issue.

All of these demands drive the need for non-intrusive, lightweight, highly scalable technologies for end user monitoring and deep-dive analysis. BMC APM provides user-centric application performance management that automatically links end user monitoring with deep dive analysis down to the line of code. Using probes, BMC APM can collect data from numerous disparate resources, both inside and outside your data center; including a unique integration with the Akamai Cloud Monitor to collect performance data about transactions that leverage Akamai’s Intelligent Platform. The solution gathers and feeds all of this data – in real-time – into a single APM performance analyzer and console. And to top it all off, you can deploy BMC APM any way you want – in your data center, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment.

BMC is rapidly establishing a new standard for managing application performance based on accurate, actionable, real-time, user-centric performance data. Enterprise customers with business-critical applications can look forward to decreasing business disruptions (slowdowns and outages), improving user productivity; and ultimately boosting customer satisfaction.

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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