User Experience: A Concern for Some (But Apparently Not All) Administrators
The further away operators are from customer-facing IT services, the more likely it is for IT staff to have a “not my problem” mindset. Infrastructure administrators (virtualization, storage, etc.) are a prime example, and tend to have this response – as, after all, end-users rarely call these administrators directly.
But other supporting service administrators – for example, those who manage web, email, Citrix and SAP – are not so lucky. When users see poor performance, their complaints relate to the services they access – so they might say, “email is not working”, “virtual desktop access is slow”, or “SAP is not responsive.” When these complaints are forwarded to the helpdesk, they invariably get routed to the service administrators (e.g., the email admin, the Citrix admin, or the SAP admin). In fact, these administrators get blamed for any problem with their respective services, even though the real issue is often originating somewhere else.
In this situation, the service administrator then has the challenge of determining what is the real cause of the performance problem. Sometimes, the problem can be addressed in the application tiers that he controls (for example, email processing is slow because there is not enough memory on the server). But many times, the problem is actually caused by one of the supporting infrastructure tiers that is not in his control. For example, the email server in question could be hosted on a virtualization platform that is overcommitted in terms of resources, resulting in slow email processing. In such a scenario, the email administrator is often at a loss to determine what is causing email processing to be slow because in most cases he has no visibility into the performance of all the infrastructure tiers that can affect email performance.
Anti-Transparency – The Result of Fragmented IT Operations
IT operations teams are often comprised of domain experts in each of the different tiers, and each expert uses a different set of tools for administering and monitoring their respective tiers. When each tier uses a different monitoring tool, it’s easy to see how the “not my problem” mindset can be perpetuated in an organization. In fact, it can lead to a kind of “anti-transparency” that perpetuates this unfortunate status quo. This, in turn, is one of the main reasons that diagnosing problems can take hours, days or in some cases never really be diagnosed at all.
Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) conducted a survey on APM tools, revealing that 65% of respondents own more than 10 commercial monitoring solutions, and only about 50% of those tools are being actively used.
Another contributor is the inter-dependent nature of today’s IT infrastructure. Very often the performance of one tier is dependent on another – for example, the virtualization tier depends on storage for good performance. Without cross-tier visibility, problem diagnosis is a huge challenge.
Many companies and teams have been eaten up with the cancer of “not my problem”. There aren’t enough team-building events and “trust falls” to counteract a culture where some people break for the door while others work to resolve an issue. – Adam Bowen
Transparency – The Path to Excellent Service Delivery
To ensure excellent service delivery, IT operations teams need to be provided with a common view of the service quality that is being experienced by users. Both service-facing and non-service facing administrators need to be made aware of their ultimate measure of success – happy and productive users.
To diagnose user experience issues, IT operations teams must have a unified view of the IT infrastructure – so all the domain experts are on the same page. To be clear, this “single pane of glass” does not replace the expert tools for each tier. Instead, the goal of unified monitoring is to be able to provide to the entire IT operations team a consolidated view of the performance of each tier, so when a problem is detected, it is quickly apparent which tiers are not working well.
However, visibility into the performance of each of the different tiers is by itself not sufficient to overcome the “not my problem” mindset. Cross-tier performance correlation that takes into account the inter-dependencies between tiers is a key for accurate root-cause diagnosis. Identifying the origin of the problem and easily observing all affected dependencies can go a long way toward eliminating the “not not my problem” response.
eG Innovations has been addressing the “not my problem” mindset for over 15 years. We pioneered unified monitoring in 2001, quickly went on to provide business service management, and followed that with the industry’s only virtualization-aware automated diagnostics. With our announcement of converged application and infrastructure monitoring last year, our capabilities were expanded to include code-level correlation.
In short: eG Enterprise takes measurements at every layer of every component across end-to-end IT services, learns the norms of all measurements, and through patented analytics automatically isolates which layer of which component is the source of a performance issue. Today we accomplish this across any deployment model—public, private or hybrid cloud—and from code to bare metal.
Organizational transparency requires more than just making information visible; real transparency requires translating this information into actionable knowledge. This is what builds organizational trust and helps drive IT transformation.
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