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Saturday, May 25th, 2019

Application development

Don't fiddle with IT while your business burns: the case for integrated System and Application Monitoring

As IT infrastructures become increasingly complex and interdependent, identifying the exact source of technical problems when they occur can be harder than finding a needle in a datacenter. Fixing these problems quickly is essential to keeping customers satisfied and maintaining performance throughout the business. Yet, because IT professionals typically have deep expertise in one or two areas, rather than a holistic understanding of the whole system or network, determining the exact location of an IT issue can take far more time than the business can afford.

Application Performance Monitoring (or APM) platforms can deliver real-time, whole-of-organization insight that complements the deep expertise of IT professionals within their teams. By installing a combination of generic and application-specific monitors across their infrastructure, IT managers can not only pinpoint application misbehavior as soon as it happens, but also predict and minimize the risk of failures at potential trouble-spots. To be successful, APM solutions need to take an integrated approach to multi-component IT infrastructures; and be able to scale for volume and complexity as the organization grows.

Is your IT team plugged in?
Any IT manager knows that unexpected technical issues take time to fix. However, that time is not always available to businesses when a critical application, server, or other piece of infrastructure decides to misbehave – potentially undermining the customer experience or slowing down performance across multiple departments. Yet, within a typical chain of escalation, where an initial glitch is reported to the help desk, then gets transferred and bounced between different IT, engineering and management teams, often does little to get the problem solved post haste. Not only that, but the sheer complexity of any IT system – a seemingly basic application like email still consists of numerous programs, protocols, and data stores – mean that identifying the problematic component often requires far more knowledge than any one IT manager will possess.

Integrated system and application monitoring solutions are a type of APM which should provide a clear overview of not just the different network, server, and application components of the organization, but also how each component interfaces and communicates with its peers. In other words, a good system and application monitor shows IT managers the whole, rather than just the sum of its parts. This means being able to monitor multiple benchmarks and indicators, ranging from response times (for things like SQL queries or gateway transactions) to whether the UX/UI of your front-facing customer portal is functioning smoothly.

Any deviation from normal function triggers an alert which informs the IT team of a potential technical issue and its exact location within the network and systems infrastructure. In the case of an e-tailer, for example, a payment gateway which times out or lags can cause sharp declines in sales and customers. However, gateway time-outs can be caused by any number of factors – slow database response, failed name resolutions, bottlenecks caused by firewalls or badly-configured security protocols – either alone or in combination with one another. A properly-installed system and application monitor should clearly identify the cause of the issue, allowing IT managers to then wield their specialized expertise to greatest effect.