Digital transformation means the nature of data and applications moving across the enterprise have changed, and they’re affecting multiple domains, including IT. But ultimately, it’s still up to IT to keep everything running smoothly, which means application performance monitoring (APM) and network performance monitoring tools (NPM) have to keep up.
In a landscape dotted with multiple point solutions and suites offering a single dashboard views of organization’s infrastructure, Riverbed is updating its SteelCentral platform. Nik Koutsoukos, VP of product marketing, said the “digital enterprise” means IT is supporting one or all three activities across different lines of business: e-commerce, web-based applications, and marketing.
“CIOs have to support enterprise digital marketing initiatives,” he says.
To have all of these various applications performing at their peak, you need to be able to monitor them, he said. That not only includes on-premises apps, but also those that are hosted in the cloud, including those in increasingly popular containers, said Koutsoukos. “We have to extend visibility into the cloud as well as platform-as-a-service.”
The SteelCentral platform extends monitoring capabilities into the cloud with Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, PaaS, and containerized environments. It also supports large-scale virtualized network performance monitoring and expanded unified communications monitoring with new support for Skype for Business, which as part of Office 365, is growing in adoption, said Koutsoukos.
Application performance has always had an impact on employee productivity, he said, but now CEOs and CIOS are correlating it with business performance as well, he said, including brand equity and financial health, whether the applications are customer-facing or not. “Poor productivity means essentially the business shuts down.”
The APM/NPM Market is littered with solutions from many vendors, many of which only address specific aspects of the business, said Koutsoukos, but the realities of a digital enterprise require a holistic view with user interfaces that are easy to use so people can work together across domains to tackle performance issues. “You can’t just provide a bunch of tools and hope they make sense of data and analysis.”
And ultimately, he said, it’s still IT’s responsibility to make sure applications and networks hit their performance targets.
Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Dan Conde said the blurred lines present a classic choice to IT between best-of-breed tools and one integrated product. “As systems become more complex, and the domains bleed into different groups, it becomes more difficult to get a comprehensive view,” he said. “You need to have a central view across networks and the application stack.”
Conde said SteelCentral is combination if variety pf products gather together over time, pulling together both APM and NPM. “It’s kind of a fuzzy category.”
It reflects the melding of domains within an organization that’s undergoing digital transformation. “A few years ago, the marketing you did was very simple. You sent out an email with special URL, and the call to action would be a click to website. It was really isolated in a few domains. Now the conversation has become very complex.”
Now, said Conde, marketing campaigns are multi-channel, and are far more than just getting someone to click on a website. They involved multiple social media platforms and ads placed in mobile applications. “Many different groups are involved collecting and analyzing the data,” he said, but people responsible for infrastructure must be in the loop.
Most intra-company apps used to be client-server, Conde says, but now apps are increasingly web-based and a combination of cloud-hosted and on-premises stitched together.
“That becomes much more complex and you need visibility for that,” he said, and it’s also a usability and user-interface issue, which is important as technology has become more consumerized, so IT expects more than a command line interface.
“They have a certain desire to visualize things and interact in a real time manner. Putting emphasis on the user interface is critical,” he said.