Application Intelligence

Overcoming Performance Bottlenecks

You Can’t Fight What You Can’t See

Enterprises far too often develop and implement applications with little thought for scalability or future extensibility. They naturally tend to focus on their immediate functional and performance requirements. The ‘stack’ they choose to leverage is frequently selected for reasons of expediency and cost effectiveness. Important architectural decisions are also based heavily on things like internal resource availability and their technical skillsets. Rather than the long term application requirements of the business and end users. While somewhat understandable, such a short term focus can easily result in considerable application performance issues in the future. Hindering your business and hampering growth.

The modern enterprise is immensely application dependent. While use of an application is restricted to its original design and scale its underlying architecture and construction aren’t generally tested. As businesses grow in size however they often begin to experience performance issues with critical applications. Organisational growth generally requires applications be used on a much larger scale than was originally intended. User bases compound significantly to support growth. While geographical usage also tends to become wider spread. What is also extremely common place amongst a host of different industries is the extension of application functionality - beyond its intended design. Enterprises regularly try to adapt existing applications to functions they weren’t necessarily architected for. The end result is a perfect storm of application dependency, poor performance and system outages. All of which restrict the growth of companies and impair their ability to compete in the marketplace.

Application performance issues are an extremely costly problem for organisations. Particularly those who develop their own applications. Bespoke software development is supposed to give enterprises a competitive edge. Though for far too many enterprises the opposite is true. They experience a restriction of growth attributed to poorly performing, business critical applications. Time as they say, is money. Lengthy system outages for critical applications cost businesses dearly. For smaller companies, many of whose businesses depend entirely on specialist applications such an occurrence can be incredibly crippling.

Each day, businesses are being made or broken on their ability to identify and resolve application issues quickly. Yet application intelligence for many businesses is limited. Leaving them ill-equipped to address the underlying causes of performance problems and wasting significant resources in trying to troubleshoot blindly.

"Short term focus can easily result in application performance issues in the very near future"

Needle In a Haystack

The Challenge of Problem Identification

Business Critical Means Complexity

Regardless of whether they are bespoke or off the shelf, enterprise applications are extremely complex architecturally. They generally consist of many different functional components. Often written in multiple programming languages and residing on disparate technology stacks. They themselves can interface with a host of different databases, middleware architectures, data feeds and even other applications - using messaging platforms and API mechanisms. An application is equally dependent on the infrastructure resources it’s provided with. Ranging from compute, memory and storage through to network bandwidth and latency. The use of virtualisation technologies and shared platform architectures can also introduce resource contention. All potentially leading to performance bottlenecks.

Such complexity makes problem identification rather difficult. Particularly for smaller companies with a finite number of resources. The unfortunate reality is that the source of any performance problem could be almost anywhere. Like finding a needle in a haystack.

Traditionally companies have struggled to identify the causes of poorly performing applications easily. Until very recently, problem analysis was very much a manual process with little in the way of automated toolsets. Developers depended heavily on things like application logging to identify coding issues. Which itself places an overhead on the underlying application. Supporting infrastructure however tended to get most of the blame when application issues arose. Even when compute, storage and network resources were generally more than ample for the workloads at hand. After all, it’s often easier to upgrade a processor or add another server node to the application cluster. As opposed to thorough root cause analysis and delving through the underlying code base. Fortunately such an archaic approach is no longer necessary.

Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tools give companies the ability to find the needle in the proverbial haystack. More rapidly and efficiently. They also enable performance issues to be managed proactively rather than re-actively. Providing comprehensive metrics and insights which allow preventive measures to be taken. Before actual issues occur. For those business with customer facing applications, APM tools also have the ability to monitor the end user experience. Something that was previously difficult to capture and often comprised a rather subject assessment by key users. After all it’s the end user experience that matter most.

"Stopping problems before they actually occur rather than reacting to them should be the objective of any enterprise"

Real Time Insights

Unified Monitoring and Analytics

Full Visibility of Distributed Applications

Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tools provide enterprises with a more sophisticated, holistic platform on which to ensure their business critical applications run smoothly. An effective APM suite once implemented provides a unified, global view of an application; its constituent components and all of the infrastructure on which it operates. This single pane of glass view better equips companies to proactively monitor their applications end-to-end. Assuring that not only application performance is consistently maintained but that end user satisfaction is also.

Unified Monitoring
Mature APM solutions enable everything relevant to an application to be viewed in real-time, from a single console. Monitoring solutions historically were quite disparate. Which risked critical events going unseen and made troubleshooting quite difficult. Impressively, most APM tools now show an applications architecture holistically. Ensuring true insight is gained and nothing is ever missed. Included powerful analytic components further empower enterprises with the ability to stop problems happening. Before they actually occur.

Ease of Implementation
While it’s easy to focus on the capabilities of an APM suite it’s the comparative ease of implementation that’s often overlooked. A market leading APM solution can be up and running in a considerably shorter period of time, than it would take to develop one in-house. Not to mention the cost savings involved. Building something from scratch is a considerable undertaking.

One of the best ways to prevent code level issues from causing problems is to identify them in pre-production. Prior to being formally released. APM solutions are most effective when they exist in both pre-production and production. Which enables the performance impact of new changes to be compared against existing application baselines. Clients using APM toolsets in this manner see a significant reduction in production releases causing performance problems.

Dynamic Baselines and Alerting
One of the advantages of leveraging an APM suite is the ability to baseline application performance. Many tools can do so dynamically, auto generating baselines based on which alerts can then be configured. Including at the aggregated transaction level - an application response to a device or user initiated request. More sophisticated suites have the ability to watch every line of code being executed. Measuring and scoring each transaction and providing a solid foundation on which response times to issues can be significantly reduced.

Swift Resolution
An effective APM solution can reduce the Mean time to repair (MTTR) per performance issue significantly. Enterprises can see a reduction by as much as 65%. Not only do they alert on issues occurring but they quickly isolate the causal factors. Enabling problematic components to be drilled down into easily. All the way down to code-level. Virtual War Rooms for collaboration, further ensure rapid issue identification and resolution by multi-party stakeholders.

"Enable true DevOps style collaboration with role-based APM access and sharing of same performance data - across teams"