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Application performance management

Application performance management consists of managing applications before they are deployed (impact readiness), managing the applications that are already deployed (discovery and profiling), and managing the applications after they are deployed (measurement and monitoring). This tip discusses reasons for considering application performance management.

If you are asking yourself about application performance management, three common dynamics are probably at play within your organization.

  1. You are deploying a new application and wish to understand the impact of the application on the network (such as SAP or ECRM applications) and the changes required on the network to support the new application.
  2. You are deploying real-time convergent applications (such as voice and video over IP) and need to manage the performance of the applications.
  3. The applications that are currently deployed on your network are performing poorly.

Each of these dynamics can create a situation in which robust application performance is the key criterion for the overall business. Today's applications are what drive today's businesses. The ability to manage the IT infrastructure to deliver quality application performance, introduce applications, and resolve application performance problems is a focus that is most often overlooked.

Convergent applications and applications such as SAP are delay sensitive and perform terribly in networks that exhibit high latency, packet loss and jitter. For this reason, you must have a good handle on the application environment in order to ensure that the applications will perform as expected regardless of what changes are occurring on the network, server or applications themselves. This is where application performance management comes into play.

Application performance management relies on gathering critical information about the network, the servers and the applications themselves. If an application has already been deployed and there is limited understanding of how that application is performing on the network, then there is really no way to know how additional applications will perform. Therefore, application performance management consists of managing applications before they are deployed (impact readiness), managing the applications that are already deployed (discovery and profiling), and managing the applications after they are deployed (measurement and monitoring).

These tasks require support from traditional siloed organizations within IT, including the application development team, the server team, the network team and the operations team. In the past, the developers would create an application and deploy it, and the server and network folks would argue and point fingers at each other regarding performance issues.

This is unacceptable in today's environments because the applications are much more sophisticated and prone to performance problems. Each of these groups plays a part in the lifecycle of an application across an enterprise -- from development to infrastructure readiness and deployment to ongoing management. In addition, today's applications are generating more revenue than ever before.

This is the first in a series of articles to discuss application performance management to include strategies, application framework, application impact analysis, infrastructure readiness, and application management tools. The intent is to provide insight and lessons learned from folks who are doing this right and from those who are doing it wrong. These lessons can prepare an organization with the information necessary to execute and deliver world-class application performance management.

About the author:
Robbie Harrell (CCIE#3873) is the National Practice Lead for Advanced Infrastructure Solutions for SBC Communications. He has more than 10 years of experience providing strategic, business and technical consulting services. Robbie lives in Atlanta and is a graduate of Clemson University. His background includes positions as a principal architect at International Network Services, Lucent, Frontway and Callisma.
 

This was last published in February 2009

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