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Sending Your Application Portfolio to the Dentist's Chair

Performance management should be viewed as a "live usage" technology

The topic of performance management in information technology circles has, by and large, been a relatively thorny issue at times. Part of the problem with post-deployment solutions is that code may be buggy and troublesome, functionality may not be close enough to original requirements and (often most important) real-world data volumes supersede that which the system might have originally been designed for.

Yes cloud computing can provide a route to much needed flexibility in both processing power and data storage capacity, but users want a software system that works right from the start and has the modularity to grow too.

But we can't redesign now - we're up and running, so what do we do?

In the workplace, IT project managers may have inherited assets and artifacts in environments that cannot simply be subject to "rip and replace" reengineering. Logically then, performance management solutions come into view as a means of monitoring application health. Solutions in this space today need to be able to cope with straddling traditional, mobile, virtualized and cloud computing environments.

A performance management solution capable of providing insight (by which we mean diagnostics) into individual system transactions (even in high intensity computing environments such as those employing Complex Event Processing [CEP] technology for example) can, in theory, point towards a means of remediating application issues.

It is important here to state that performance management is not an application problem panacea - but it's a good start.

If terms like "real-time topology-based analytics" start to send you all glassy eyed then take a step back - this is not rocket science. If you like, this is like sending your applications to the dentist.

Individual application scripts are tested before and after deployment, but of course it is the post-deployment data received from the operations team that provides some of the most tangible and telling insights. End users' experiences can then be assessed across various locations and inside various use cases - and across different device form factors too if you're feeling conscientious and comprehensive.

Performance management solutions should provide a "snapshot" of network operations. The acronym to look for here is KPI, i.e., Key Performance Indicators. KPIs function to analyze software systems and report on bottlenecks. KPIs are shown as a visual representation usually in a dashboard that can be understood by business professionals as well as CIOs.

With the undeniable rise of cloud computing proliferating around us, KPIs can provide an invaluable perspective on exactly when and where additional cloud computing capacity could and should be called upon.

In the real world, a performance management solution will be able to assess whether end-user response times are acceptable and whether SLAs are being met. So the commercial edge afforded by this technology is undeniable. Onward, there is logically a means of forecasting and planning for system and business growth more accurately.

In a distributed multi-vendor environment, performance management almost becomes a prerequisite for system health unless you want to risk cavities and decay.

This is a dynamic technology proposition. Performance management should be viewed as a "live usage" technology so that workloads can be balanced and system resources allocated on-the-fly so to speak. You don't take your teeth out to go to the dentist (usually), so you shouldn't be turning off your entire IT operation, taking system logs and then sitting back to analyze them in order to perform this kind of analysis. That is not to say that historical analysis does not form a core element of the data to be scrutinized here, but you get the point - this is all about the proactive detection of system issues in a live running operation, performed in real time.

Put in place and deployed correctly, performance management won't keep your applications from ever needing to go to the dentists again - but with diligent scrubbing and brushing, you should come through without  major fillings or the risk of any painful drilling.

In our next blog, we'll take our requirements management procedures to the vet and our change management program for some colonic irrigation treatment.

Don't worry - just kidding.

•   •   •

This post was first published on the Enterprise CIO Forum

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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