The single most important challenge faced by IT and operations is to ensure business critical applications are functioning properly from an end-user perspective. In order to deliver acceptable service levels to the end-user, you need an end-to-end view of how applications consume system and network resources.

In an earlier post, I explored why network performance monitoring alone is insufficient. While Network performance has a direct impact on application performance, and is critical to provide an accurate picture of the performance across the entire application delivery chain, it is difficult to pinpoint how the network affects a specific application.

I also explored why application-centric APM is incomplete. Traditional APM solutions focus solely on application performance and neglect to assess how the underlying infrastructure impacts the application.

In order for organizations to successfully correlate data from the network and applications to meet the expectations of IT and operations managers, a converged NPM/APM approach is required.

New Approach to NPM

Business and IT environments are in a constant state of flux. Businesses are constantly reinventing themselves in response to new market opportunities (acquisitions, deregulation, etc.) that often force change upon organizations. IT departments must always be prepared to respond to these commercial changes while simultaneously remaining up to speed on new technologies that can enhance business practices.

Critical changes that organizations are making to meet the expectations and demands of today’s applications require a new approach to NPM. This new approach involves combining application-specific data with metrics at the network level in order to provide true end-user experience and a view into the performance of the entire application delivery chain end-to-end.

Effective Resource Utilization

Due to the nature of distributed applications, the network is an excellent source of information for helping explain end-user performance to make informed decisions about IT investments (WAN subscription costs, server consolidation, etc.), resource utilization and allocation.

To demonstrate applications are meeting the business requirements and SLAs, useful quantifiable data can be derived by correlating NPM related metrics with application Transition details. To ensure business requirements and SLAs are continually being met, a baseline of how an application is being delivered can be created to proactively determine irregular behavior or performance degradation.

This baseline is something of a moving target, and is constantly updated with production data to adapt to the enterprise environment as it evolves (hardware updates, new versions of operating software, adding users, etc.). By maintaining an up-to-date baseline, IT and operations is in a position to identify what is possible given the existing system, proactively identify problems, improving the troubleshooting environment.

Accelerate Troubleshooting

It’s critical to have enterprise-wide metrics on application performance and network resource consumption to rapidly troubleshoot performance issues. Users expect consistent performance and rapid resolution of problems, yet it is time consuming to pinpoint how the network affects a specific application without performance information from supported infrastructure and protocols (even more challenging to understand overall network performance).

Silo-oriented monitoring tools have proven to be ineffective early warning solutions for application service because they don’t measure end-user response time or provide any cross-domain intelligence. Network information must be correlated with application-specific data for targeted troubleshooting and the ability to isolate the fault domain all while understanding the business impact.

When performance management is viewed from an application perspective, end-to-end through the entire infrastructure, including client devices, routing protocols, network configurations, servers and associated components, it creates transparency and a common understanding of performance degradation. This allows for targeted troubleshooting and the ability to isolate the fault domain, whether it’s the server, application or network, all while understanding the business impact.

With a converged approach to Network Performance Monitoring and Application Performance Management, IT and operations managers get an in-depth understanding of the underlying technologies that support applications and a clear picture of the relationship between the network and applications.

Converged NPM/APM arms IT and operations managers with invaluable knowledge about what is possible given their existing system and prepares them to respond to commercial changes while simultaneously implementing new technologies that can enhance business practices.

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