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Systems of engagement are the future, and they could kill your company if you don't keep up

ITProPortal is touring California's Silicon Valley, getting the latest from up-and-coming startups.

We spoke to Pete Abrams, VP of customer centric innovation at AppDynamics, about why the old models of network management are dying out, and why your company could be left behind if it doesn't catch up.

My favourite example is Union Pacific, one of the largest rail companies in the US. They went from using their systems of record to check where their cars are, what their systems are doing, how the tracks and so on to becoming entirely software-centric, to anticipating system problems before they happen.

It is my belief that if any company fails to become software centric, they will be the ones that will disappear over the next 20 years.

Forrester believes that by 2016, 50 per cent of investment will be spent on systems of engagement.

Systems of engagement don't just record – they make suggestions, they adapt to data and anticipate. And that's a much richer type of application. From the monolithic system structure, we're moving to a richer, more complex environment. But these architectures put an incredible strain on systems.

This is why the structure of organisations have to change. Currently you have small teams responsible for the operations and the operational health of each component. It's the only way they can remain agile. You have to have a holistic view, and also an ability to determine how each individual action affects the whole system.

The old management technologies don't have a solution for this problem. That's why these older players are seeing falls in their financial stock, while a whole new bunch of players like AppDynamics, Splunk and Servicenow are coming up and gaining investment.

The old monitoring software used to simply go to each component with a stopwatch an measure response time. What you need is an understanding of the whole system, and what its goals are.

Our infrastructure is becoming increasingly irrelevant, because when we have complex infrastructure, we have hard problems. If we want to get to the heart of problems in our network, transaction should be the new primary unit of management.