15March2018

3 Business Performance Challenges of Digitization

3 Business Performance Challenges of Digitization

In today’s digital, software-driven economy, business constituents are tasked with three fundamental, but often conflicting, requirements to assure appropriate Business Performance:

  • To compete, they must ensure delivery of more applications to more markets as quickly as possible. The alternative is loss of market share and reduced revenues.
  • To satisfy and retain customers, they must ensure that the end-user experience (whether Business to Business or Business to Consumer) is highly performant – that the appropriate quantity of work can be accomplished in the appropriate time frames. The risk of failure here is loss of customers, reduced transactional revenues and, ultimately, decreased competitiveness and market share.
  • Finally, businesses are under unrelenting pressure to accomplish everything in a fashion in which costs are continuously minimized, but without impacting appropriate application service delivery. Failure to keep up with competitors’ efforts to cost-optimize leads directly to loss of market share, customers and profitability.

Every application ultimately runs on an increasingly dynamic, virtualized and complex set of infrastructure. Depending on specific configuration requirements, these may be public, private and/or hybrid clouds. It includes virtualized server infrastructure, physical server infrastructure, complex multi-tiered and increasingly virtualized storage environments, and complex network configurations.

Current State of the Application and IT infrastructure Estate

  • Dev-Ops Addresses Time to Market. Application Dev-Ops languages, methodologies and tools are well established to ensure the most timely-possible delivery of new applications into production.
  • Application Performance Management (APM) addresses Application Performance. Leading-edge Application Performance Management (APM) solutions such as AppDynamics have been leading the charge towards delivering solutions that can comprehensively monitor and measure all aspects of the application software stack that comprise today’s complex, multi-tier, application environments. They have significantly reduced the time to ascertain root causes of performance problems throughout the Dev-Ops lifecycle; both during application development and testing phases, as well as times when production service quality issues should arise.
  • Infrastructure Management coalescing but still fragmented. Multiple management/monitoring solutions exist to address the accelerating complexity of the underlying dynamic infrastructures supporting applications. Increasingly, these management technologies are consolidating from a plethora of extremely narrow point products into three broader classes of solutions:
    • Compute Platform Management to manage the environments where application code/logic is executed. These include everything from dedicated, on-premises bare-metal hosts, to on-premises private-cloud IaaS and PaaS environments (e.g. VMware), through hybrid environments, to full-on public cloud environments such as Amazon Web Services, Azure, etc.
    • Storage Platform Management to manage the environments where critical data is created, changed and retained. These span on-premises solutions such as SAN and NAS, to virtualized storage environments (e.g. VMware VSAN) and often include public-cloud storage components as well.
    • Network Platform Management to manage the networking communications hardware and software across the various components underpinning each/every application. These span traditional LAN and WAN oriented management solutions, as well as new solutions for dynamic, virtualized networking (e.g. Plexxi and others).

Business Performance Implications

At best, there remain four over-arching silos of measurement and management data that are required for comprehensive Business Performance Management of Applications: Application Performance Management, Compute Platform Management, Storage Platform Management, and Network Platform Management.

There is no single solution that can comprehensively span these for silos, nor will there be for the foreseeable future. (For details, please see “Gartner Kills BSM”).

The Business clearly must have continuous and proactive visibility over time across all four of these domains to successfully and proactively meet the 3 Business Performance Challenges:

  • The Business must have a comprehensive and continuous understanding of how much resource is needed, and when it is needed to both ensure performance, and ensure cost-optimization.
  • It must understand all the trade-offs associated with differing hosting environments, resource sharing schemes, and application resource requirements over time (including both short-term, and longer-term and cyclic business cycles).
  • Finally, the Business must be able to do this in the complete, end-to-end context of each and every application and its associated transactions – including their response time and throughput.

This reality has long driven the requirement for closer cooperation between and across Application Teams (including DevOps), Infrastructure and Operations teams, and the Business (product line) teams. This is why the Business has always asked for reports from IT about any/everything to do with infrastructure utilization and performance, and why Business increasingly wants to see information about application performance.

Unfortunately, today’s approaches to inform the Business tend to be manual, serial and “after the fact”, with Infrastructure and Operations teams as the “middle man” in the process. Information about application performance is manually or programmatically extracted from APM solutions (when available) and from diverse infrastructure management tools, is then manually transformed and aggregated, and then stored in a form from which manual/batch reports can be generated for delivery to the business constituencies.

Most importantly, these processes simply cannot scale across today’s highly dynamic, ever changing configurations, nor to the sheer scale involve in the number of involved components (Application, Transaction, Compute, Storage, Network, etc.). At best, these approaches yield an approach that can many times provide an automated reaction to an alert. It does nothing to allow the Business to proactively and comprehensively life-cycle manage and optimize performance, cost, and service quality.

An Intelligent Marriage of Metrics Provides the Solution

Existing, powerful, and capable management tools for Applications, Compute, Storage and Networks are not going away. What is needed is a way to automatically weave together the critical measurements across those still required tools in a way that allows for continuous and proactive analytics and visibility to the Business – and in the only context that matters: the actual performance of applications and transactions.

OpsDataStore combines AppDynamics metrics with infrastructure metrics to deliver an end-to-end solution for visualizing data, analytics, baselines, anomalies, and topologies over time. OpsDataStore integrates with AppDynamics, VMware, ExtraHop, Dynatrace and more, including enhanced features to support the new Dynatrace product, Amazon Web Services, Storage environments and more. A key point is that all APM solutions focus upon troubleshooting (finding problems that already exist). AppDynamics finds problems in code, both during development and production. OpsDataStore adds significant value in the following respects:

  • Provides a full stack Service Level Dashboard that allows business constituents to easily visualize the behavior of the key transactions of interest in the context of the behavior of the supporting software and hardware infrastructure.
  • Collects metrics across the IT stack – from AppDynamics, the complementary tools from other vendors (for example ExtraHop, Dynatrace, etc.), the platforms where the monitored applications run (for example VMware and AWS), and the supporting hardware infrastructure (for example EMC and NetApp enterprise storage arrays). OpsDataStore is not a monitoring tool, it is a big data analytics and visualization platform for all monitoring tools.
  • Provides proactive analytics on all of the above metrics allowing problems to be anticipated and prevented. This allows IT Operations and the Business to play offense instead of reacting purely to events and alarms.
  • Combines transaction and application performance and throughput metrics from the APM tools with the infrastructure behavior metrics and uses both to provide application focused capacity analytics. This drives increased efficiency in resource utilization and cost savings while protecting the performance of critical transactions and applications.
  • Performs root cause analysis across all of these tools and the underlying hardware and software infrastructure. For example, the performance of transactions and processes monitored by Dynatrace is related directly to the performance of the underlying components of enterprise storage arrays. This dramatically shortens war room meetings and improves the overall quality of IT Service delivered to the business

Join OpsDataStore for a Webinar

Join us for a Webinar on Thursday, March 22 at 2pm ET where we discuss this challenge and will showcase how OpsDataStore delivers these values to users of AppDynamics, to IT Operations and, most importantly, the Business Constituents.

You’ll see firsthand how OpsDataStore’s unique and patent-pending ability to automatically, continuously and deterministically relate cross-vendor and cross-stack objects and their associated metrics over time enables these, and many more high-value use cases – all using your existing investments in industry-leading monitoring solutions.

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