Agility in the application economy demands a unified view of IT infrastructure

The application economy means companies are facing overwhelming pressure to exceed user expectations, which means IT must become more agile.

In a recent Webinar, Proactive IT Monitoring: Pivotal to IT agility and superior customer experience, Umair Khan, an expert in infrastructure management solutions for CA Technologies, said the challenge is how to make “proactive” more than just a word that’s bandied about when monitoring IT infrastructure.

A key part of becoming more agile, he said, is unification of tools. An informal poll of Webinar attendees found that 70 per cent were using two to five monitoring tools, while 20 per cent were using anywhere from six to 10. Not one organization that responded to the poll was using just one tool to monitor its IT infrastructure, and there were even quite a few using as many as 11 to 20 different tools.

Khan said the application economy can be seen on a variety of fronts: NetFlix and Hulu are changing the standard for video delivery, mobile payments are the rise, and Uber and Lyft are changing how users find transportation without being transportation companies in the traditional sense. “Uber is a pure software company.”

There’s a great deal of integration happening through APIs, he noted. “None of these applications work alone.” Furthermore, consumers want to have experiences on their device of choice and access services from anywhere. In the application economy, said Khan, “Users have a very low threshold for any disruption of any of these services because they can easily switch to a competitor.”
But it’s not as though mobile apps are replacing everything – legacy applications on servers behind the scenes are not going away. The result is that infrastructure monitoring is getting very complicated, with multiple tools being knitted together with custom code, Khan said. “You cannot afford to do it anymore.”

It’s not enough to just monitor availability of apps, infrastructure and services, said Khan, because in the application economy, IT departments are expected to support even faster applications and must be proactive if they are to successfully manage the user experience. “They have to break free of complexity so they are not always stuck in a reactive mode.”

Khan defines proactive has being focused on user experience. That includes meeting service level agreements, but it also means not looking at elements of on individual basis through distinct tools but having a future proof, unified architecture that helps you understand how everything affects each other in the delivery of the application economy. “There are too many tools.”

According to research by CA Technologies, 71 per cent of organizations are using multiple monitoring tools. This breeds complexity and hinders performance, said Khan. “When you don’t have unified infrastructure, the blame game happens.”

Time spent pointing fingers has a negative effect on the customer experience, and the blame shouldn’t be placed on people, but on the infrastructure that’s in place. “This really cannot continue if you want to have proactive approach.”

Khan systems, networks and services must be viewed through a cohesive monitoring architecture if IT departments want to be truly proactive, and there’s value in non-IT information as well. For example, correlating online sales transaction volumes with performance data is a characteristic of a user experience-focused organization.

And it’s not just about the front-end view, said Khan. The back-end architecture needs to be resilient, scalable and flexible. “You can write scripts to integrate different tools at the back end but it gets complicated.”

Khan said IT operations with a unified approach are more likely to deploy applications faster, significantly reduce mean time to resolution and more likely to discover issues.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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