More than just one thing: the many values of Application Performance Management

Truly powerful ideas are frustrating to explain, because, however simple their “elevator speech” core, their lasting value lies in the entire network of relations they make possible, and those multiple linkages resist glib summary. Application performance management (APM) is a perfect example.

APM’s brief advertisement is easy: when applications slow down, customers leave. APM targets that problem.

There’s more to it, though: as Larry Dragich will likely say in the webinar “IT Opsmentioned earlier this week, APM does its best as part of a team. It deserves application with a consistent, well-designed methodology–Dragich’s title is “Solving the Performance Puzzle: A Simple APM Methodology“–and does best when its end-to-end identification of symptoms is complemented by low-level network monitoring and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) analysis for discovery of root causes.

Another benefit of a consistent APM approach is that solving each problem helps clear away noise and focus better on the next error or bottleneck. This is one of my daily realities: as we methodically solve the most pressing problems in the datacenter, hidden ones become more apparent. Step by step, we approach our performance and reliability goals.

The value of APM is equally multi-dimensional. Just as execution of APM works out best as part of a consistent methodology, the reward from APM is more than just a higher level of sales conversions or consumer satisfaction.

This latter is a pervasive theme in information technology (IT). “… IT-business alignment is more of a starting point than an end goal …” writes Rob Preston in “Hinshaw At Center of HP’s 5-Year Turnaround Plan“. Preston describes how executive vice president John Hinshaw works to elevate IT at HP from cost-cutting, efficiency and “internal goals” to agile, customer-focused business goals. Exactly that shift receives attention far beyond HP or any other single organization, and is certainly the right model for APM. Organizations typically adopt APM tactically to retain incremental customers and save costs in meeting end-user experience (EUE) targets. When they do APM right, though, they find it becomes a strategic advantage: APM is the right frame for communicating between business and technical staff, it promotes nimbler operations, and it enables the “refactoring” of services with cloud, content delivery network (CDN), and IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) that organizations need to transform business strategically.

Modern APM is strong enough to be a starting, rather than an end, point.