Every company needs an Application Performance Management (APM) strategy to ensure that business critical applications always meet or exceed business goals for which they were deployed. Companies could be at various maturity levels in this aspect ranging from no strategy and reactive posturing to fully articulated APM strategy and a very proactive stance. In this article, let us examine some key elements of a sound APM strategy.
The business owner of an application relies on application development teams (internal or external) and the infrastructure (in-house or cloud) teams for the health of his/her application. Since a company may have hundreds of business critical applications it makes sense to have a layer of a Chief Application Performance Management Officer (CAPMO) who can be the intermediary between various application owners and development/infrastructure teams. This arrangement ensures that the requirements of different application owners are met in an efficient and synergistic manner across the whole company.
Sometimes it may not be clear as to what are the most critical business applications that are candidates to be managed by the CAPMO. The applications which are on the list of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) program are ideal candidates as these applications have already gone through a rigorous business case analysis for their mission criticality. It is easy to see why a dashboard of performance of different critical applications is to be expected in the CAPMO office and likely on his/her mobile device.
The CAPMO will be responsible for defining and implementing a good APM strategy at the highest maturity level. Let us examine the various components which take the APM strategy progressively to a better maturity level.
At the lowest level, a company would have some minimal instrumentation both for networking and server infrastructure. This type of company will be reactive and performs troubleshooting after an incidence has been identified. At the next level a company would have full instrumentation and would have implemented monitoring and alerting functions. But these functions are in their own domains (e.g., servers, networks, etc.).
At the next level of maturity, a company would have cross-domain processes defined and would be able to perform troubleshooting very quickly and efficiently. A company can move to the next maturity level by implementing processes to test applications for performance at the development/testing stage. This is as good as it gets for many large blue chip companies.
At the highest maturity level, a company would collect performance metrics data over a period of time and perform prediction/analysis of potential future issues based on identified trends (leveraging Big Data). Those companies would also have process to act upon the identified issues based on the trends. They would also proactively identify key transactions within business critical applications and define SLAs for them. For these companies it would be easier to migrate their applications to the Cloud if they so desire as they have better negotiating power with the Cloud providers with their realistic SLAs. These are also the companies that are likely to have a CAPMO. Such companies would even incorporate APM principles in their BCDR program.
If a company does not have a current APM strategy and would like to develop one, it can work with a premier tool vendor (such as OPNET Technologies, now part of Riverbed) or independent APM consulting vendors.