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Evolving applications - How IT Pros can stay ahead of the monitoring game

The application space used to be far less complex than the multi-layered environment IT Pros have come to recognise as the norm in today’s working world.

Way back when computing was in its infancy, applications ran on a single machine, and users had to go to that machine to access it without the convenience of connectivity to any other devices - apart from the occasional printer.

In short, applications were 1s and 0s simple. They sat on a mainframe or micro PC, with local storage.

Fast forward to 2015 and today’s systems offer a wealth of contributions to the application space, and each of these coming with their own monitoring needs. Even with shared storage and server virtualisation, the app is still very much at the top of the IT Pro’s agenda.

However, with the complexity of today’s applications, it is important to remember how and why our needs have evolved, and what this means for an IT Pro who is seeking complete visibility across the application delivery chain.

Let’s take server monitoring as a starting point. Whereas the “one machine” approach detailed above typically ran at 20 per cent capacity, their role today sees them taking a much larger share of the consolidated resources, putting servers firmly at the heart of application monitoring.

Secondly, IT Pros need to know how shared application components work together, and how they behave with each other. The benefits of this being to provide a solid awareness of how the end-user is interacting with the application. IT management is needed to connect these layers and quickly provide a single point of truth on about any given application; to monitor, troubleshoot and report on this complex and quickly changing environment.

Finally, we cannot ignore that the increasingly tech-savvy end-users may have three or four separate mobile devices on the network, or might even be accessing the same application simultaneously. Today’s employees, who have integrated high-end technology into their personal lives through the advancement of mobile devices, expect these same standards to be implemented in the workplace also known as the consumerisation of IT. In order to ensure that standards are met and exceeded, it is important to track which devices are being used, who is using them, and how those devices are impacting other applications.

It may not come as a surprise, but many IT Pros are struggling to manage the different elements of their infrastructure. Constantly changing variables in each layer make it more difficult to manage the entire environment. Even though modern applications are interconnected, many teams are attempting to tackle problems while functioning in disconnected silos.

If the IT team doesn’t have total visibility across the entire application stack, the network, servers, storage, VMs and database all become potential suspects when an application grows slow or unresponsive. Too much noise overwhelms the signal and makes it exceedingly difficult to properly find the root-cause of an issue. The difficulty in getting to the bottom of the problem is further compounded by a lack of communication between the teams responsible for each layer.

The good news is that IT Pros can take steps to improve the management of their infrastructure, and in turn, optimise the performance of modern applications. IT teams should feel empowered by their technology and equipped to tackle new and evolving technologies. The following tips are a great place to start:

IT Pros must instigate processes to end domain silos

Collaboration is the key to overcoming silos. It is absolutely vital that IT Pros work together to encourage open and transparent communication between internal teams. This will allow for better identification of application needs, and improved diagnosis of performance pain points.

Network, virtualisation, development, systems and storage teams should work together to effectively identify the root of performance issues in order to support applications across the delivery chain.

Empower the team to improve performance

IT Pros should look to develop a thorough procedural plan to monitor, alert, and troubleshoot the root-cause of performance problems regardless of the layer.

This allows the IT team to take complete control of the situation while they work to resolve issues that arise.

Holistic monitoring

In order to ensure end-to-end visibility, it is important to implement a holistic, integrated ITOA, monitoring and management system that provides visibility across the entire Application Stack (AppStack) to better predict, prioritise and resolve issues before the end user even notices there’s a problem.

To put it bluntly, IT Pros cannot afford to continue trying to resolve application issues within disconnected silos. Applications are the backbone of business operations. It goes without saying that their performance can make the difference between being a competitive, highly efficient organisation, or one which is constantly playing catch-up to the demands of the end-users and the pressures of an increasing workload.

IT Pros must work together as a team across functional silos to create the foundations for the business to move with the agility, availability and scalability that it needs.

Together, the IT team can play their vital part in ensuring satisfactory quality-of-service for end-users, and above all, increasing the revenue generating opportunities and productivity for the business.

Kong Yang is Head Geek at SolarWinds.

Kong Yang
Kong Yang is a Head Geek™ at SolarWinds with 20+ years IT experience specializing in virtualization and cloud management. He’s a VMware® vExpert, Cisco®Champion, and active contributing practice leader within the virtualization and cloud communities.