APM - Online, Speed and Secure
Business today is expected to be Online, at Speed and Secure. Now that implies a lot of things from a business and technical perspective and the true winners today are able to balance these elements tactically and strategically and create winning business models. Taking a couple of steps back, and starting at performance management every business wants to know how well they are doing. Revenue or sales numbers are the catchiest and easy to the eyes and simple minds. Server Infrastructure health, bandwidth and utilization statistics are nerdy and borderline gibberish to most stakeholders. But in this vast chasm we have positioned APM as a lighthouse to help provide a mechanism to monitor and manage the key business enabling services.
Garter’s definition of APM broadly touches end user experience, applications architecture, run time services, transaction profiling, deep diagnostic capabilities and advanced analytics.
Every business is on a digital transformation journey and watching out for disruptors and adopting or transforming the way business is done is critical to survival and maintaining market share. The complexity and connectedness that needs to be managed is now mindboggling as data and application architectures themselves seem to be in a state of organic evolution. The touch points grow without notice, channels quadruple, every user will access the service from multiple locations, devices, and to add more to the mix, an IOT ecosystem is expanding at light speed.
Where should the thought process begin for APM, who should play the key roles and what is critical to make this initiative even reasonably successful. Decision makers need quality quantitative data on relevant critical metrics that demonstrate exactly what we're doing and how and what are the implications of the usage patterns.
Vendors promise numerous benefits, and they are not without merit. But setting the right expectation separate from the terminology found in marketing brochures is the first step. What is at stake is the health of the business, its very mission. We have to acknowledge that APM provides a valid perspective based on system and application data and an opportunity to interpret and extrapolate based on logic and judgement. It’s the latter part that requires domain knowledge that spans the business and technologies which really makes this solution tick. Throwing money at a vendor and software licenses is not a guarantee for output that justifies ROI. Bringing in expensive consultants who may be technical wizards and solution experts but lacking the core business process knowledge will also limit the effectiveness of the implementation.
Real value comes from clear ownership and clarity of purpose in the rollout. From the business, there must be a powerful senior stakeholder who has a clear vision of the business service. This can form the basis for its visualization in the dashboard that the analysts and technical team will create by linking and correlating the relevant components and application logic which make up this service.
The toughest part then is the business service creation and the agreement of the visualization and metrics and the key thresholds. As with everything, creating the APM blueprint for the selected mission critical service ensures how effective the monitoring will be. I have seen implementations that have taken the quick and dirty, get off the ground quick approach. This essentially gets a budget allocated without due diligence, selects a vendor primarily on commercials and deploys the software with out of the box features and configurations. The value you get is less than 25 percent in these instances where the business itself has no representation, stakeholder perhaps under pressure only wants to tick a box and move on and the customer experience measurement potential remains untapped and unappreciated. And this is a clear fail when the mission critical application under the monitor is a home grown one or legacy without the right homework.
It’s easy to get lost in terminology like availability, monitoring, uptime, response times, MTTR, automation, IT operations, service management, big data, Business Intelligence etc. But the focus should be on the business impact, efficiency and effectiveness of customer service, and how we manage and leverage the huge amount of data we are collecting in the process.
Finally, APM is now proven to be much more than a tool for IT Operations, it’s important for Development teams and adds immense value in QA steps and provides valuable business insights to application teams, business analysts and security teams.
The solution implemented the right way would satisfy the customer expectations from businesses that they are OnLine, at Speed and Secure.