HOLISTIC PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT: A FAST-GROWING NECESSITY IN APJ

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1 HOLISTIC PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT: A FAST-GROWING NECESSITY IN APJ IMPROVING THE END-USER EXPERIENCE DRIVES COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE IN ASIA-PACIFIC/ JAPAN As business in nearly every industry becomes increasingly competitive, international, and digital, leading enterprises around the globe are learning the importance of providing employees and customers with superior application experience. Without fast, reliable access to an organization s crucial data and systems, employee productivity suffers, innovation lags, customer satisfaction is degraded, and business is at risk. In fact, high-performing business applications are becoming so critical that a company s success or failure can depend upon them. // 1

2 For enterprise IT departments, the push for high-performing applications is driven from all sides. Essential business operations are now deeply dependent on the performance of critical applications. Employee performance is therefore tightly correlated with their operation of these critical applications and, consequently, employees have little tolerance for poor user experience, application delays, or system outages. If business applications aren t performing to meet employee expectations, senior management will quickly hear about it. The same is true for external users. In this digital age of rich Internet applications and mobile access anytime, from anywhere, customers have also become intolerant of lackluster websites and unresponsive apps. But instead of complaining about poorly performing applications, they will simply take their business to a competitor who can offer a better user experience. says Brent Angus, General Manager, Networking Business Unit, Dimension Data Asia Pacific. As such, financial institutions in APJ are looking for comprehensive solutions to help them improve the performance and availability of their applications and networks. Also, as the Internet becomes a primary channel for companies to generate revenue in APJ, as it has in North America and Europe, organizations here are paying close attention to the performance of their websites and customer-facing applications. In fact, 78% of Asian organizations identify Internet or online interaction as the most strategic tool for customer engagements, according to IDC Asia/ Pacific s C-Suite Barometer In order to truly compete in the digital world they must gain insight into not just network or infrastructure performance, but into each individual customer experience. As the Internet becomes a primary channel for companies to generate revenue in APJ, as it has in North America and Europe, organizations here are paying close attention to the performance of their websites and customer-facing applications. Company executives are realizing the connection between superior application performance and the business s bottom line. As a result, they are demanding that their IT departments provide the best possible experience for all parties. Corporate applications are the primary interface that most employees and executives have with their IT department, so if their business applications aren t performing up to par, then users of those applications often extrapolate that their IT department isn t up to par either. No longer intimidated by technology, users today have set high expectations for application performance and will expect fast answers and action when they are let down. The need for a superior application experience is particularly felt in Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) today. Financial regulators in this region are setting high expectations for the availability of customerfacing critical IT services. These expectations are backed by severe penalties, not to mention the brand and reputation damage that typically comes with prolonged outages of essential services such as ATMs or online banking sites or exchanges. Financial regulators in APJ are becoming stricter regarding the expected availability of financial institutions customer-facing critical services, /// HURDLES TO IMPROVING APPLICATION PERFORMANCE While various departments within an organization can agree that superior application performance is a high priority, the mandate to achieve high performance levels sits squarely on the shoulders of the CIO and IT department. And it s a mandate with which many IT departments struggle. According to a study by IDG Research Services, 75% of IT organizations say their companies are suffering from degraded performance of their business applications. What s more, 41% of Asian organizations cite performance issues with enduser tools as their biggest challenge in delivering value to their business users, according to IDC Asia/Pacific s Continuum Survey A number of factors are impacting IT organizations ability to deliver a superior end-user experience. Technology infrastructures are becoming more distributed, redundant, and modular, therefore adding to the complexity of the environment and increasing potential points of failure. More organizations today are looking to make the most of cloud-based services, virtualizing their data centers, taking advantage of big-data analytics, and enabling mobile employees. While all of these technologies enable employees in new ways and // 2

3 increase an organization s potential to innovate, they also must be delivered with a superior enduser experience in order to be adopted, accepted, and effective. At the same time, the critical applications running across these increasingly complex infrastructures have themselves become more complex and dependent on various elements to achieve high levels of functionality. Add to these factors the siloed nature of many IT organizations today that are structured around managing specific, discrete domains networks, servers, applications, storage, etc. which makes it difficult to gain a cohesive, unified view of the IT environment. Modern business applications typically involve most or all of those areas, but with little coordination or collaboration among the different groups the task of understanding why an application is loading slowly or why a Web page is often unresponsive becomes nearly impossible. Typically IT organizations struggle to improve application performance because of: Lack of visibility into end-user transactions, beginning at the user s device and followed through the network, database, and application tiers Inability to monitor each and every transaction s performance, making sporadic performance issues more complex to understand and troubleshoot Siloed organizational structures that make it difficult to get the big picture, often leading to finger-pointing the network folks say it s the problem of the database folks, who in turn blame the application people Many IT organizations are not geared toward monitoring the end-user experience and therefore struggle in trying to improve it. If you can t effectively measure something, then it will be difficult to make corresponding improvements to it, says Mike Ernst, director of systems engineering for Riverbed Performance Management in APJ. This issue is magnified by the fact that most IT organizations are structured around specific domains, and most business applications straddle some or all of these domains. /// TRADITIONAL STRATEGIES FALL SHORT Modern business applications are being developed in new ways that take advantage of innovative technology, and therefore require a fresh, endto-end approach to performance management that takes into account both the network and the applications. In this era of Web-based, multitier applications that interact across multiple application servers, IT departments can benefit greatly by shifting their emphasis from simply monitoring the network and IT components to truly understanding application performance and improving the overall end-user experience. This represents a significant change in strategy from the traditional approach to performance management, which for years has focused on network and infrastructure performance. While monitoring the network continues to be an essential element of any successful IT strategy, it only provides visibility into a single domain, and that limitation can handicap the IT department s ability to deliver a superior user experience. A network-only view of performance can, for example, help pinpoint that a specific server is responsible for the degradation of a certain application s performance, but it doesn t provide any visibility inside that server to determine what might be going on at the application level. In a complex, multitier application, simply saying `The application server is slow isn t sufficient. Which element of the application server? The thirdparty payment processing section? The record retrieval from the database? The report generation component? says Riverbed s Ernst. Application performance visibility is essential to finding the root cause of the performance issue when it resides within the application. Without application performance visibility, and the ability to gain insight into the end-user experience, application developers are particularly challenged to work out the cause of a poorperforming application or its lack of availability. These challenges include: determining the cause of More organizations today are looking to make the most of cloudbased services, virtualizing their data centers, taking advantage of big-data analytics, and enabling mobile employees. // 3

4 intermittent issues, which are usually dependent on a certain set of circumstances leading up to the problem; figuring out that while a module of code may perform well in a single call, it s being called thousands of times within a single transaction and that cumulative time is creating the bottleneck; and addressing code memory issues such as a code bug that overaddresses a field and causes a seemingly random exception to occur. If IT organizations fail to take a user-centric, endto-end approach to performance management, application performance will only get worse as companies in APJ adopt newer, more complex technologies. Despite the benefits provided by new offerings such as external cloud-based infrastructures and mobile services, they are unlikely to be embraced if they deliver anything less than a high-performing end-user experience. /// A NEW APPROACH TO PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT: END-TO-END MONITORING Leading companies in APJ that understand the importance of a superior end-user experience are looking to end-to-end monitoring solutions to improve employee productivity, customer satisfaction, and the bottom line. As performance demands in the organization increasingly come from users instead of the data center, the shift is under way to monitor applications as well as the network. These comprehensive solutions focus on the transaction; they start with the end user and follow the transaction through the different layers of applications, the network, the database, and back again. This approach delivers more complete performance management because it more accurately reflects the end-user experience, since it s the performance of an individual transaction that dictates the quality of that experience. This approach also enables IT departments to more quickly get at the root cause of a problem. This application-centric approach to managing performance is not an alternative to traditional network monitoring; instead it builds upon it. Monitoring IT components is as important as it ever was. Indeed, the impact that servers, databases, What to look for in a performance management solution Solutions provider Dimension Data offers application performance management (APM) managed services to help APJ companies manage their application delivery. Brent Angus, General Manager, Networking Business Unit, Dimension Data Asia Pacific, outlines how the company defines leading solutions for endto-end performance management offerings: Is the solution transaction-focused, so it can follow a transaction from the point of origin at the end-user device through the network, databases, servers, and back again? Can it monitor performance at the application, database, and network level? Can it look deep enough into an application to monitor Java and.net code? Can it see every transaction without requiring sampling, even at high transaction levels? Can it handle large amounts of data in a timely and efficient manner? Does the solution s network performance monitoring tool utilize Netflow data to provide network traffic information for analysis? Are the network monitoring and application monitoring tools well integrated? Is there a unified dashboard interface into all components of the solution that is easy to use? Is there comprehensive reporting? and networks have on the performance of business applications is significant and must be taken into account. However, the focus is now shifting to allow IT to dig deeper by monitoring every critical part of the application delivery chain and troubleshoot issues that arise before they become problems. The benefits offered by these solutions include: End-user experience monitoring allowing IT departments to catch application problems before users do. IT can monitor and troubleshoot each user s unique experience whether that user is local, located on another continent, or mobile to compare their actual experiences and stay ahead of potential problems. This goes beyond just managing the application to gaining an understanding of exactly what users are experiencing with their browsers, applications, networks, and servers. Transaction tracing and component monitoring helping IT track, monitor, and troubleshoot the performance of every component of a multitier application, as well as the transactions that link them. Sophisticated monitoring allows IT // 4

5 to see every transaction without having to sample transactions even at high transaction levels and handle large amounts of data in a timely and efficient manner. Network and infrastructure performance management alerting IT to issues before the business is impacted and helping to understand dependencies between the applications and the network to improve troubleshooting and better comprehend the critical impact that the network has on application performance. End-to-end visibility managing the complete performance picture so that companies can leverage new technologies such as cloud, mobile, and virtualization without compromising visibility and intelligence. Powerful analytics improving IT departments effectiveness and productivity through expert analysis while increasing application availability and end-user productivity. Streamlined troubleshooting reducing downtime by navigating from business-level views to performance metrics to discover the root cause of performance problems. Intelligence helping to eliminate blind spots and having the insight needed to plan for change. Performance management solutions that offer these benefits help IT departments better understand the user experience in order to make improvements, anticipate potential trouble spots, and solve issues before they become problems that can impact the business. This is because such a holistic view of the environment ensures full visibility across all elements so that no matter where in the IT environment performance is degraded, the issue can be analyzed from a holistic perspective. As a result, problem areas will be identified and resolved quickly and efficiently. /// CONCLUSION Applications enable companies to brainstorm, research, and develop innovative products and services; engage, service, and retain customers; automate back-end processes to increase efficiency; and improve productivity to keep ahead of the competition. It stands to reason that boosting the performance and reliability of applications is a top business priority. For CIOs and IT departments looking to not just support but actually enable the business, high-performing applications are an imperative. Providing true end-to-end performance management and achieving a high-performing end-user experience is made possible by gaining full visibility into both the network and the applications. This visibility enables companies to adopt new technology, expand into new product areas and markets, and push further into the digital economy knowing that the end-user experience will remain a superior one. For more information, please visit As performance demands in the organization increasingly come from users instead of the data center, the shift is under way to monitor applications as well as the network. Riverbed and Dimension Data Riverbed offers a comprehensive line of application performance management and network performance management products designed to enable the best possible end-user experience. The company s SteelCentral product family offers a unique combination of end-user experience monitoring, transaction tracing and component monitoring, and network and infrastructure management. These solutions cover application monitoring with SteelCentral AppInternals, SteelCentral Web Analyzer, and SteelCentral AppResponse; as well as network monitoring with SteelCentral NetProfiler, SteelCentral NetShark, SteelCentral Packet Analyzer, SteelCentral Flow Gateway, and SteelCentral NetExpress. Together, these offerings help companies around the globe and in every industry maximize the performance, availability, and productivity of their critical applications. Whether companies are rolling out new applications, consolidating or virtualizing data centers, migrating to the cloud, supporting mobile-device users, or simply in need of troubleshooting and greater visibility, Riverbed s SteelCentral application performance management products provide a holistic view of IT environments. Dimension Data offers application performance management services to companies looking to outsource this function to a reliable, trusted service provider with proven expertise and flexible, subscription-based pricing models. The company offers application performance troubleshooting, application baselining and dependency mapping, and application deployment assessment services. Dimension Data s services can address an immediate customer need or pain point and provide unparalleled visibility to increase customers confidence in the success of their strategic initiatives on an ongoing basis. // 5

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