The growth and maturity of the cloud has required us, as tech pros, to manage an increasingly complex web of applications spanning on-premises, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments. While this affords us greater flexibility, agility, and scalability day-to-day, these changes to how we deliver applications are making traditional monitoring techniques much more difficult (sometimes impossible), while the business expects even greater performance.
In sum, we’ve been caught in an IT Catch-22: the business mandates we mix on- and off-premises as hybrid operations…but without letting go of the traditional, infrastructure-first metrics they know and trust.
The good news is we’ve reached an application performance management (APM) crossroads. APM provides businesses the freedom to prioritize delivery goals and define their own metrics to measure success, based on ever-changing circumstances. There are several aspects of APM that can help businesses succeed—such as measuring custom data or incorporating indicators that calculate error rates and latency. However, the key to optimizing APM as a strategy is to shift our point of view.
At the same time, many organizations are discovering traditional monitoring isn’t enough because the foundation of how we monitor our applications has substantially changed. The green glow of device dashboards now has less bearing on whether you’re actually delivering high-quality user experiences. It’s a rare chance to catch up with recent technology changes and regain control of application delivery monitoring.
Look Back to Move Forward
To achieve this shift, we need to start thinking like an end user to monitor more wisely as an admin. A few things to keep in mind:
- It’s vital to view application users as “insight agents” and consider their point of view from the beginning of implementation.
- Contrive real user metrics from tools that can turn custom application instrumentation and code injection into configuration tasks. This will help business leaders develop strategic delivery goals.
- These metrics will help solve issues that arise in the operations process by allowing you to troubleshoot backwards to include associated infrastructure performance.
It’s also critical to note that although APM is shaped around application health and trying to answer the question, “Is our app working well?”, traditional infrastructure metrics are still necessary. Even in the age of cloud, things will break.
How Do We Get There?
You probably have an idea, but some time and budget will be necessary. While you won’t need to hire a full team of developers, it will take changes to a business to implement the evolving role of APM. It’s important to remember that starting small and being flexible is key.
Also keep in mind:
- You can prove the value of the APM tools you have in place by using them in a crucial system or application that’s currently facing issues. This will help provide concrete evidence that APM improves application delivery and influences business results.
- Add end-user and digital experience monitoring to modernize applications.
- Remember APM is a catalyst for innovation, giving businesses the freedom to work against metrics that are tailored to custom applications or unique IT environments.
By exploring an approach that doesn’t call for fast action or a million-dollar budget, upper management is more likely to consider renegotiation. Showcasing your company’s current APM capabilities offers an educational experience to leadership, which can help change expectations moving forward.
It used to be that APM was too expensive and complex, but it’s evolved into an opportunity to become a part of the digital innovation strategy within your company. Now is a great time to begin a conversation about catching up with the needs of changing usage and new platforms. Leadership wants us to succeed and (recently), is more open to learning new ways to make customers happy.
SolarWinds® is a leading provider of powerful and affordable IT management software. Our products give organizations worldwide—regardless of type, size, or complexity—the power to monitor and manage their IT services, infrastructures, and applications; whether on-premises, in the cloud, or via hybrid models. We continuously engage with technology professionals—IT service and operations professionals, DevOps professionals, and managed services providers (MSPs)—to understand the challenges they face in maintaining high-performing and highly available IT infrastructures and applications. The insights we gain from them, in places like our THWACK community, allow us to solve well-understood IT management challenges in the ways technology professionals want them solved. Our focus on the user and commitment to excellence in end-to-end hybrid IT management has established SolarWinds as a worldwide leader in solutions for network and IT service management, application performance, and managed services. Learn more today at www.solarwinds.com.
About the author
Denny LeCompte is a senior vice president and general manager of application management at SolarWinds, where he drives the business strategy for the company’s suite of application performance management (APM) products, including Pingdom, AppOptics, and Loggly.
A former university professor, Denny is a passionate advocate for optimizing technologies to solve critical customer problems, leveraging empirical, data-driven approaches. His thoughtful leadership and disciplined methodologies have guided product management, product marketing, and user experience (UX) teams to develop creative product strategies that ignited rapid business growth and made customers’ lives easier.
In addition to SolarWinds, Denny held executive leadership roles at leading IT management and security firms, including BMC and AlienVault. Denny holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Rice University and a B.S. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.