Tear Down the Silos: a Call for App-Centric Infrastructure Performance Management


Len Rosenthal
Virtual Instruments

Len Rosenthal is chief marketing officer for Virtual Instruments. 

Applications are at the heart of today’s enterprise, but like the body’s most vital organ, applications cannot sustain life on their own. To ensure applications deliver in terms of performance and availability, organizations need a common view between application- and infrastructure-layer management. This requires the free flow of insights between what have traditionally been siloed functions: application performance management (APM) and infrastructure performance management (IPM). This is a challenge, particularly in enterprises that rely on legacy infrastructure; but it’s one data center leaders must overcome if they are to deliver on the complex application requirements in physical, virtual and cloud computing environments.

Converging APM, IPM for Greater Synergy

In the past, APM and IPM have played different roles, in different silos. Working from the top down, APM analyzed end-user response times, runtime application environments and portions of virtual servers. On the other end of the spectrum, IPM managed the physical resources such as servers, networks and storage, as well as most of the virtual ones. The two played vital roles as part of a whole, but there was little integration – which is now critical to effective end to end performance optimization.

To connect applications, web, database and infrastructure teams, IT needs to do more than just mash up management tools. The test of true synergy is whether executives can change the ecosystem at the system and operational level. One of the first steps toward that goal is to end reliance on silo-specific solutions. These tools were built for isolated application and infrastructure environments, and they can’t do the job modern data center ecosystems require. Enterprises can no longer accurately predict traffic, nor control resources in a shared or multi-tenant environment. And if they want to compete in a market where new offerings can rapidly overtake traditional products, they must be flexible and scalable.

Silos get in the way of that goal. Many data center teams have worked to fix that problem through virtualization, software-defined architecture and other initiatives. And yet, many still battle technological (and cultural) challenges. Some crucial applications remain on traditional infrastructure (and some crucial players remain tied to their roles as data gatekeepers). These barriers threaten real-time information flow and performance visibility across the enterprise.

The Need for App-centric IPM

By contrast, app-centric IPM enables enterprises to manage infrastructure for the express purpose of delivering application performance and availability. Such an approach does three things:

  1. Continuously capture, correlate and analyze data: Enterprises can compare heterogeneous infrastructure information with established response time, utilization and other metrics systemwide. Freed from silos, organizations gain advanced analytics frameworks that provide them with contextual understanding of their application environments.
  2. Deliver a dashboard of correlation, discovery and predictive data analytics: App-centric IPM delivers accurate, actionable and vendor-agnostic insights. Engineering and operational teams get these insights delivered in an intuitive way that supports scalability, while maintaining speed and functionality.
  3. Understand infrastructure in the context of the application: Data center managers need to understand which applications are running on which components of the infrastructure. They also need to understand the importance, or business value, of each application on the shared infrastructure. Finally, App-centric IPM needs to detect and understand changes in application workload behavior, so that problems can be proactively avoided..

Application-centric IPM keeps the blood of information pumping through the enterprise, so organizations can deliver high performance and availability – all the time. This approach provides a map of the data center in relation to each application, as well as the context around each application and its criticality to the business. Lastly, app-centric IPM helps IT understand how applications behave and how that behavior stresses the infrastructure. This level of understanding is essential in rapidly changing market landscapes, where services live and die on their reputations. When the user experience is paramount, enterprises can’t afford to retain the silos that separated APM and IPM for so long.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Penton.

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