What IT gains from managing the end-user experience

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1 WHITE PAPER What IT gains from managing the end-user experience Adapted from The Defi nitive Guide to Business Service Management, written by Greg Shields, published by Realtime Publishers PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Traditionally, IT has relied on systems management and monitoring tools to provide the information needed for troubleshooting. However, those tools often provide shallow levels of data. Mature IT organizations recognize the need for deeper levels of monitoring data to assist with the administration of their systems. Those organizations see how end-user experience monitoring can provide that data by digging deeper into the individual transactions associated with a business service s operation. Traditional monitoring systems have the capability to alert IT when a problem situation or SLA breach occurs. However, the alert that these systems provide is typically limited to the individual situation that tripped the alarm. Digging deeper into the problem s root cause is harder, because an alerted problem can be comprised of multiple sub-problems, or can be one that is buried within another layer of the system. These limitations in visualizing the problem are why the biggest component of time-to-resolution for many problems is simply identifying what went wrong. End-user experience monitoring tracks users interacting with multiple applications from different locations using the local network or even the Internet. This means that the experiences can be quite different and isolating the problem can be challenging. Initially, Operations may want a high-level dashboard, like the one in Figure 1, isolating the applications and locations impacted. This paper takes a look at a few of these benefits specific to IT that can be gained by implementing end-user experience monitoring. As defined by Gartner, end-user response-time monitoring tools (previously described as end-to-end response-time monitoring tools) measure end-user response time using various techniques, such as synthetic transactions and network probes. From aiding in problem identification and prioritization to augmenting pre-failure warnings, end-user experience monitoring provides a framework for problem isolation. From an organizational standpoint, this information helps speed troubleshooting by eliminating the fingerpointing problem and aiding in inter-team communication. The result is enhanced vendor accountability and customer satisfaction with the system. Figure 1: High-level operations dashboard

2 2 WHITE PAPER The spread of an application s use of client, network and server resources (see Figure 2) can also be an excellent starting point for the identification of a problem s root cause. This spread provides the troubleshooting administrator a more defined starting point for tracking down the solution to the problem. A business application contains several transactions a user can execute. So it is important to understand where in the application the problem occurs. Digging deeper into each individual transaction, as shown in Figures 3 and 4, allows the administrator to understand which element is causing the most user churn. Deconstructing each individual mechanism that makes up the business system helps with the atomization of each service element. Figure 2: An application s use of client, network and server resources Knowing which transaction or element is causing the issue helps greatly in understanding where you need to improve. For instance, the administrator can ask development to take a deeper look at analyzing a specific URL. Instead of saying the application is slow, you actually understand which part of the application is slow. So if you need to talk to development or the network staff, you have the details you need. PRIORITIZATION Even in mature IT environments there are situations where multiple alerts go off at once. When this occurs, it can be problematic to understand which of these alerts are critical to the functionality of the business and which are of lesser importance. For example, there may be a dozen alerts active within the management system, but 11 of those alerts are actually minor problems that do not require immediate attention. One of those alerts could be one that impacts the entire user base for the business. Information supplied by an end-user experience monitoring system can help in both understanding the true nature of the alert and prioritizing its remediation. To take end-user experience monitoring one step further, it can be tied into Business Service Management (BSM) and the BSM service model, where each element that makes up the business service has an impact assigned to it. Figures 3 and 4: Analyzing individual web transactions COMPUWARE CORPORATION: WE MAKE I.T. ROCK AROUND THE WORLD

3 WHAT I.T. GAINS FROM MANAGING THE END-USER EXPERIENCE 3 Figure 5: Service quality, number of users and business impact by key service Those impacts, like the ones displayed in Figure 5, relate to the number of affected customers associated with a reduction of service quality. When multiple alerts are presented, end-user experience monitoring in conjunction with BSM helps the IT department understand the business impact of each alert. With this information, IT can resolve the most critical issues first, while de-prioritizing problems with less impact. for service and individual component performance related to transaction speeds. When that analysis points to an impending failure at some point in the future, IT is better prepared to add additional resources as necessary. Trending information also enhances the budgetary process, as fewer surprise purchases are necessary for IT to maintain the environment. PRE-FAILURE WARNINGS User interfaces commonly experience a period of pre-failure before an actual failure occurs. This pre-failure period may relate to an increasing load on the system or a component that trending shows will soon not be able to keep up with the demand placed upon it. What is uncommon is the recognition of pre-failure before the failure actually appears. Only comprehensive trending and historical analysis can help the IT department find these issues before they emerge and reinforce the system with additional resources as necessary. Too often, with IT organizations at lower levels of maturity, service failures occur because IT does not have enough information available to recognize when a system requires additional resources, more computing power or a reconfiguration. End-user experience monitoring can provide that information by continuously examining the environment for transaction timing. Trending analysis, such as that shown in Figures 6-8, can be done Compuware provides the most versatile end-user experience monitoring solution. Jean-Pierre Garbani, Vice President, Forrester The Forrester Wave: Appliance-based End-user Experience Monitoring, Q2, June 2007; The Forrester Wave Vendor Summary. FINGERPOINTING PREVENTION When critical situations occur in a business system, business revenues are at risk until the problem is fixed. Every second counts in these situations, so solving the problem quickly is critical. Unfortunately, the typical response by IT is to get everyone into a room and break down the problem.

4 4 WHITE PAPER Figures 6-8: Comprehensive trending and historical analysis COMPUWARE CORPORATION: WE MAKE I.T. ROCK AROUND THE WORLD

5 WHAT I.T. GAINS FROM MANAGING THE END-USER EXPERIENCE 5 This isn t necessarily a bad mechanism for isolating a complex problem. IT personnel typically have experience within a single component of IT: I m a network person. You re a server person. Over there are the database people. Few people truly understand the entire system from end to end with the technical know-how to understand problems as they occur. Thus, the circling-the-wagons approach in many organizations is the only way to get enough experience in one location to track down the problem. Each IT unit owns its piece of the computing environment. Everyone in these all hands meetings can default toward proving why the problem does not lie within their scope of management. They can be driven by professional pride to locate the problem in other areas of the computing environment. This, combined with the stress of the problem itself, can lead to fingerpointing within the group, each person trying to find the problem somewhere else. Figure 9: A CNS Exception report indicates where excessive time is spent between the client, network and server, and compares results of a poorly performing transaction with a baseline profile. End-user experience monitoring assists with the fingerpointing problem first and foremost through the information gleaned through its Client- Network-Server timing data. As shown in Figure 9, when a problem occurs that is critical to operations, the first step can be to look for where the transactions client, network or server times vary from the baseline. The timing information across multiple systems and multiple platforms assists the troubleshooting team in tracking down the problem quickly. As shown in Figure 10, for web transactions we can even see what the client downloaded and where the time was spent in the network (Request Time, Response Download Time), server (Server Time) or client. Even more important is the expensive nature of the group meetings themselves, considering what bringing together large numbers of people to identify the problem domain costs the organization in time and money. The opportunity cost of bringing key members of IT together to discuss the problem is the effort spent on either actually fixing the problem or performing other necessary critical work. In organizations with lower levels of maturity, these major problems can occur frequently. Figure 10: Web transaction analysis

6 6 WHITE PAPER The Cisco administrator doesn t speak Windows Server. The Windows Server administrator doesn t speak Oracle databases. The Oracle DBA doesn t speak SAP. The SAP administrator doesn t speak Cisco. Very few individuals, especially in enterprise environments, are familiar with all the layers of a business computing environment. A centralized framework is necessary for effective communication. That framework helps locate and isolate issues as they arise, but more importantly it is recognized as one that can talk to each individual in the appropriate primary IT language. An end-user experience monitoring system is a potential framework that can support this functionality. Figure 11 shows a summary report detailing a WAN congestion problem in easily understood language. VENDOR ACCOUNTABILITY Figure 11: Performance analysis reports in the language of the problem owner Here, IT finds itself in a state of perpetual firefighting, which limits its ability to move toward higher levels of maturity. A fully realized EUE monitoring system can free these senior-level resources to enable them to work toward strategic, maturing activities rather than tactical, firefighting activities. CLEAR PROBLEM COMMUNICATION Along the lines discussed above, end-user experience monitoring additionally assists with providing a clear distinction between problem domains. IT individuals typically gain skills within their areas of responsibility. Areas outside their scope of management have a different vocabulary as well as processes for administration and troubleshooting. Thus, when problems occur that span multiple scopes of management, the conversation between IT individuals becomes complex and adds to the problem. For example: Another issue entirely is involved in holding their feet to the fire for vendors of applications that the IT organization must support. In most organizations the computing environment is made up of a number of separate applications that work together to provide the business service. One common problem with this cross-pollination of applications is the tendency of individual vendors to throw an issue over the wall when support is requested. As an example, the database vendor suggests that the problem is related to the middleware component. So, a call to the middleware support is necessary. The middleware vendor believes the problem lies within the operating system. So, a call to the operating system vendor support is necessary. Getting all three of these vendors on the phone at the same time and, more importantly, the correct people within the vendors support organizations is challenging if not impossible. The data provided by a end-user experience monitoring system provides easily transferable documentation about the behavior of a vendor s application and serves as clear evidence that the problem lies within it. In some cases, this information can be used to assist with directly pinpointing the problem within vendor-supplied code. When code issues and custom vendor patches are needed to fix a particular problem, this documented evidence is essential. COMPUWARE CORPORATION: WE MAKE I.T. ROCK AROUND THE WORLD

7 WHAT I.T. GAINS FROM MANAGING THE END-USER EXPERIENCE 7 Much of the data shown in this paper can be used to isolate problems to the correct tier. This data helps in convincing the vendor that the problem does indeed require a code revision. This same data can also be used by the vendor to identify the area to fix. CUSTOMER SATISFACTION Most importantly, all these elements tie into the IT Service Management tenet of customer satisfaction. A service with a high level of quality directly correlates to improved customer satisfaction. When IT can proactively identify issues and resolve them without attracting the notice of the user, then it is working at a high level of maturity. That high level of maturity helps IT align better with the needs of the business and ultimately drive business profitability. With a Vantage end-user experience monitoring solution, you can: align IT service quality with business objectives using comprehensive reports that keep IT informed on the performance and availability of critical applications that span the enterprise monitor all users all the time, so you can proactively detect and fix performance problems before end users even know about them make IT more efficient by isolating the root causes of performance bottlenecks and prioritizing tasks in accordance to their impact on the business. ABOUT COMPUWARE VANTAGE Compuware Vantage, an IT service management solution, enables business-driven service delivery by combining business-focused reporting, end-user experience monitoring and application performance management with infrastructure and service desk metrics, whether provided by Compuware solutions or third-party tools. This unique combination allows IT to align its services around business-critical objectives with a real-time, comprehensive picture of service delivery. Vantage provides the most comprehensive and flexible end-user experience monitoring in the industry. The Vantage approach relies on two proven methods: Agentless monitoring Measures the application response times experienced by all users all the time. Once installed in front of application servers, Vantage passively collects data from anywhere across your network and provides service delivery data from a centralized location. Active monitoring Proactively gauges response times for key business applications against established thresholds using dedicated workstations that replay scripted transactions or scriptless application measurements. Active agents represent predictable users in a known environment performing measurements at scheduled intervals, providing easily comparable measurements. These methods are complementary and are typically used in combination with one another and the payoffs can be monumental toward delivering excellent service. Because IT managers receive a full, not partial, view of their operating infrastructure and its impact on the business, IT teams can respond to problems faster, address those issues that have the largest impact on the business first and quickly isolate the root cause. To learn more about Compuware Vantage visit

8 WHITE PAPER Compuware Corporation makes IT rock around the world, helping CIOs optimize IT performance to achieve business goals. Compuware solutions accelerate the development, improve the quality and enhance the performance of critical business systems while enabling CIOs to align and govern the entire IT portfolio, increasing efficiency, cost control and employee productivity throughout the IT organization. Founded in 1973, Compuware serves the world s leading IT organizations, including more than 90 percent of the Fortune 100 companies. Learn more about Compuware at Compuware Corporation Corporate Headquarters One Campus Martius Detroit, MI Compuware Corporation All Compuware products and services listed within are trademarks or registered trademarks of Compuware Corporation. Java and all Java-based marks are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other company or product names are trademarks of their respective owners

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