February 27, 2013

Application Performance Management: New Challenges Demand a New Approach

Historically IT management has focused on individual technology domains; e.g., LAN, WAN, servers, firewalls, operating systems, etc. This approach made the implicit assumption that if each technology domain was performing well, that the application was performing well. Unfortunately, too often that assumption isn't correct as it is possible for each technology domain to be working well and yet the application performance as seen by the end user is unacceptable. One way that this could happen is that due to the overall complexity of the environment, the cumulative end-to-end latency between a user and the back-end database becomes so high that backend database queries time out.

Over the last five years, in an attempt to improve service quality as seen by customers and business partners and to also reduce cycle times and service delivery costs, many IT organizations have begun to reduce their emphasis on managing just individual technology domains and to implement Application Performance Management. While the vast majority of IT organizations have already implemented Application Performance Management, many IT organizations have not yet fully realized the promised benefits of Application Performance Management. One indication of that unrealized promise is that as highlighted in the 2012 Application and Service Delivery Handbook, in the vast majority of instances when the performance of an application is degrading, it is noticed first by the end users and not by the IT organization. The handbook also underscored the importance of IT organizations becoming more proficient at Application Performance Management by presenting recent market research that showed that in roughly two thirds of the instances in which a business critical application is performing badly, the company loses revenue.

This white paper has three goals. One goal is to describe the traditional approach to Application Performance Management and to identify some of the key weaknesses of that approach. The second goal is to describe some of the factors that are causing IT organizations to make some fundamental changes in terms of how they implement Application Performance Management. The third goal is to identify the key attributes of the next generation of Application Performance Management.

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