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The Case For APM

Application performance management is a must-have for IT.

When end users are unhappy with the performance of Web services and applications, they tell you loud and clear. Calls and e-mails pile up as executives, line-of-business managers, and frontline workers express their anger over lost productivity.

As pressure mounts, so does the noise--and not just from angry phone calls. IT professionals struggle to react amid a cacophony of alerts. Management tools specialized for each component in the organization's array of applications, services, databases, networks, and systems scream that thresholds have been crossed. Running from one tool's interface to another, IT professionals find it difficult to identify the root cause, leading to delays that can affect the bottom line.

Application performance management has never been easy; 53% of participants in our 2009 InformationWeek Analytics Application Performance Management Survey said they experience application performance problems at least monthly, and nearly half experience them daily or weekly. Today, the challenges are only growing as Web services explode and application strategies change to exploit service-oriented architecture, virtualization, and cloud computing.

Enter end-to-end APM. IT needs tools to monitor and manage an entire ecosystem--programs and methods that restrict views to the performance of single applications and system "silos" can obscure the cause of subpar response time and availability overall. Cutting through the confusion calls for APM tools that allow us to analyze metrics for each component and the underlying systems that support them, such as application servers, databases, networks, and Web servers.

For example, tools such as OpNet's Panorama can uncover patterns in metrics and events and develop correlation analysis to improve understanding of how performance in the different components affects applications overall.

A key concept of APM is an end-to-end perspective, which accounts not just for the performance of various components in an application stack, but for the user experience as well.

Companies should also evaluate comprehensive APM tools that can make it easier to integrate metrics for external Web services and internal applications that are supporting end-to-end transactions and other activities. Compuware's Gomez and Vantage are examples of APM tools that are becoming more integrated to provide an end-to-end view.

Finally, application performance management must have a broader impact on IT processes. For example, APM should ease application development, load testing, and related tasks by providing an accurate, results-oriented picture of what works well and what needs improvement. On the IT management side, APM should be integrated with IT processes for managing change and configuration, IT and business services, projects, and costs.

APM's integration with these processes will be important as IT functions shift to providing services rather than just technology; the end-to-end perspective will help companies evaluate the impact of changes to applications on specific business processes and services.

David Stodder is principal analyst at Perceptive Information Strategies and an InformationWeek contributor. Write to us at iweekletters@techweb.com.

Monitoring new apps before they're rolled out lets IT provide feedback to developers on potential problems and improvements.

Change And Configuration Management

Infrastructure changes can affect application performance. APM systems can inform IT managers about the relationships among applications and the underlying infrastructure before changes are made.

Public Clouds

Service providers don't have the end-user perspective available to your IT group, so many companies perform end-to-end monitoring of cloud-based applications and services.

Download the complete report free for a limited time at informationweek.com/analytics/apm

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