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Converged Application and Infrastructure Performance Management in IT Transformation

An acknowledged good practice is to catch errors early in the service lifecycle, and shifting application and infrastructure monitoring to pre-production and beyond should be part of this strategy. But neither application performance management (APM), nor infrastructure performance management (IPM) alone will successfully address and solve shift-left monitoring requirements. A converged APM/IPM solution can facilitate true root-cause analysis from an end-to-end IT service perspective, inclusive of both supporting and customer-facing IT services, as well as across multiple service lifecycle stages. Director of Customer Success for eG Innovations John Worthington, shares his thoughts on how a converged APM/IPM solution can be leveraged effectively across the service lifecycle.

Q: What is Converged Application and Infrastructure Performance Management?

A: Converged application and infrastructure performance management provides a single integrated view into end-to-end IT services. It reaches all the different infrastructure platforms, dives deep into applications and enables rapid, proactive diagnosis and resolution of end user performance issues.

The factors that affect performance today are far too varied and interdependent for even the most talented teams to manage without cross-silo intelligence. A converged application and infrastructure performance monitoring approach addresses these challenges by providing a single, integrated tool.

Q: How is it different from what organizations have in place today?

A: The industry has traditionally separated the performance management of applications and infrastructure, resulting in multiple toolsets in each of these domains. The tendency for IT to specialize by technical domain results in a lack of visibility of end-to-end digital business service performance.

These visibility gaps also prevent IT from making the transformational changes they need, since there is a lack of transparency between diverse business and IT stakeholders across the entire service delivery chain. The result is that IT organizations cannot deliver the quality and reliability that today’s businesses require.

Converged application and infrastructure performance management solutions differ in that they focus on the end-to-end IT service, particularly from the user’s perspective. The result is faster resolutions, proactive maintenance, effective capacity planning, increased productivity and cost savings.

Q: What approaches are vendors taking?

A: Many vendors are aggregating alerts from existing monitoring tools, in a “manger-of-manager” approach. A consolidated view of alarms enables the use of machine learning techniques to identify patterns and share knowledge, but these approaches can lack the raw information needed for proactive analysis, only detect problems that have already been “learned” and don’t understand the dependencies between IT tiers.

Applying analytics to the data collected can accelerate the analysis of performance information by a wide range of IT staff across the service lifecycle, but these tools tend to rely on IT staff for the manual diagnosis of cross-tier performance issues and typically focus on visualizing data and information rather than automating root-cause diagnosis.

Others are taking a “general practitioner” approach, which leverages a single monitor that can automatically diagnose performance problems across end-to-end IT services and provides total performance visibility to stakeholders across the service lifecycle. These solutions leverage both anomaly detection and machine learning techniques to provide higher levels of automated event correlation.

Customers should look for solutions that cover all the different platforms that exist in the enterprise, include the level of visibility needed to drill down into application code issues and perhaps most importantly, offer the ability to rapidly pinpoint the root-cause of performance issues. Having a user interface that is easily understood by diverse stakeholders is also an important consideration.

Q: How difficult is it to implement?

A: Each of these performance management approaches might be delivered as a cloud service and/or on premises depending on the supplier, and they may not be mutually exclusive. What’s right for your organization will depend on your business and IT requirements, IT services environment and current portfolio of monitoring tools.

A cloud-based solution can simplify implementation, but not every organization can leverage the cloud and there may be differences in capabilities with each deployment model. Both approaches will require installation and implementation, including training.

A “manager-of-managers” approach can result in IT staff focusing on errors rather than root-causes, and not really understanding business impacts due to the lack of clear cross-tier dependency data that spans both applications and infrastructure. This can lead to slower remediation time and potential re-work as a result of focusing on symptoms rather than the root-cause. In addition, this approach won’t enable you to optimize your monitoring portfolio, since it relies on existing monitoring tools for data collection.

A “general practitioner” approach can help you optimize your monitoring portfolio, and can accelerate cross-functional knowledge transfer. The cross-functional data collection associated with this alternative is not difficult to implement, but can raise concerns with stakeholders unless proactive stakeholder management is part of the monitoring program—which most IT transformation efforts will require anyway.

Q: What benefits can customers expect from such a strategy?

A: Converged application and infrastructure performance management provides higher levels of automation for critical IT services. A truly converged solution should provide end-to-end and top-to-bottom correlation and self-healing capabilities for both applications and infrastructure.

The deployment of a single integrated view into end-to-end IT services inclusive of both applications and infrastructure can:

  • Facilitate fast and effective root-cause diagnosis and issue resolution
  • Minimize learning curves for administrators and accelerate knowledge transfer
  • Enhance operational efficiency
  • Reduce costs and improve service availability
  • Accelerate feedback and flow across every stage of the service lifecycle
  • Enable proactive management and increase user satisfaction
  • Accelerate IT transformation

Just as monitoring is a very broad-based activity, converged application and infrastructure performance management has benefits that far exceed those of typical monitoring tools. By developing an IT transformation path that leverages converged application and infrastructure performance management, organizations can meet the challenges associated with today’s digital business services.

- John Worthington

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