With AA NPM, Avert Mysterious Performance Scares


By Gary Kaiser, Subject Matter Expert, Network Performance Analytics, Dynatrace

dynatrace_webThere’s nothing more frightening than the unknown. Digital Performance experts know that more clearly than anyone in the tech sector. When there is a network performance problem, the worst part is not knowing  the impact this has on your end users, followed closely by uncertainty about how long it will continue and the fastest way to determine the root cause in order to fully and permanently remedy it.

Without a progressive transaction-centric approach to application aware network performance monitoring (AA NPM) your worst nightmares really can come true. And there is a lot to worry about in terms of network performance – finding the origin of fleeting ghosts, the source of network goblins, can bewitch not just IT but partner stakeholders as well. (I refrained from the too-tempting stake-in-the-heart reference; thank me later.)

Today, the entire universe seems application-driven, and when your application performance management (APM) strategy doesn’t incorporate AA NPM, your network is inviting all sorts of mysterious ghosts and ghouls to haunt it in ways you can’t predict!

Done right, AA NPM empowers IT operations and application support teams to proactively identify and fix problems that impact application performance and end-user experience across the network, web, middleware and database tiers.

Don’t Fly Blind

How do you do it right? You’ll want an approach with real-user monitoring technology at its core, to passively monitor end-user response time, correlate this with transaction visibility at each application tier, collect and correlate network traffic performance stats, while supporting the auto-discovery and business configuration of all applications, servers and clients on the network. Look for a solution to analyze and report on not just application flows, but end-user experience, multi-tier transaction execution, application usage, errors, usernames, and more. To make the most of AA NPM, you’ll want a solution that delivers combined application and network-layer insight across your enterprise environments, whether that is SAP, Oracle E-Business Suite, web-based apps, or Citrix-hosted applications.

Without measuring end-user experience, you won’t have a reliable way of knowing if your users are frustrated or having problems until they call you – or worse, complain publically on social media. As a consequence, you will often be chasing after ghosts – problems that don’t exist because they don’t affect users (since you’re monitoring hundreds, or thousands, of application components).

Bring monitoring into the light of day

You’ll want to be sure your AA NPM approach measures real end-user response time, not the all-too-common stand-ins for this critical metric. It’s common to dress up a handful of network metrics – such as network utilization, session-layer response time, and round-trip delay – that hint at the quality of the end user’s experience. But the end-user experience costume is just that – a guise, a pretense, not the real thing. To be meaningful to the business and take nightmares out of the equation, performance must be measured as business users experience it, not by internal IT metrics.

Watch Out for Third-Party Scares

You also need to have a clear understanding of third-party performance that could affect your end-users’ experience. AA NPM should empower you to measure and verify SLA’S and ensure third-party applications and components are continually delivering at required performance service levels.

Work together to keep your network safe and sound

It is important that your AA NPM solution enables you to communicate effectively with the business, align initiatives and prioritize activities to keep in lock step with measurable business goals. Alignment with business decision makers requires a common language and shared priorities. This doesn’t mean that the business learns IT’s language, but rather the opposite; IT must learn the language of the business. Understanding end-user experience as a key metric of business productivity provides the foundation for this communication. This perspective becomes the means to translate underlying IT metrics – and expenditures – into business metrics, enabling mutually understood goals and decisions.

If you want an AA NPM strategy in place that isn’t just a talisman for good luck – but more like a real silver bullet that gives you facts and data along with a clear approach, you need to know what to look for – this isn’t like reading tea leaves. With a progressive transaction-centric approach to AA NPM, there is no mystery about how to consistently achieve great performance.