How to get the most out of application aware network performance monitoring

How to get the most out of application aware network performance monitoring

You can turn network performance into your secret weapon and competitive advantage

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

Today, every business in every industry is application-driven, so you want a progressive transaction-centric approach to application aware network performance monitoring (AA NPM) to ensure you can address problems before end-users become aware.

Done right, AA NPM empowers IT operations and application support teams to proactively identify and fix problems that impact application performance and end-user experience across the all the tiers: network, web, middleware and database.

 How do you do it right? You’ll want an approach with real-user monitoring technology at its core, to passively monitor end-user response time, correlate this with transaction visibility at each application tier, collect and correlate network traffic performance stats, while supporting the auto-discovery and business configuration of all applications, servers and clients on the network. Look for a solution to analyze and report on not just application flows, but end-user experience, multi-tier transaction execution, application usage, errors, usernames and more.

To make the most of AA NPM, you’ll want a solution that delivers combined application and network-layer insight across your enterprise environments, whether that is SAP, Oracle E-Business Suite, web-based apps or Citrix-hosted applications.

Without measuring end-user experience, you won’t have a reliable way of knowing if users are frustrated or having problems until they call you – or worse, complain publically on social media. Unless your suite of performance solutions includes real-time analysis across all applications and all tiers, you will mostly be chasing needles in haystacks and encountering problems that may or may not be directly impacting end-users—since you’re monitoring hundreds or thousands of application components.

In particular:

* Shine a spotlight on monitoring.  Be sure your AA NPM approach measures real end-user response time, not the all-too-common stand-ins for this critical metric. It’s a misconception that measuring a handful of network metrics is enough – such as network utilization, session-layer response time and round-trip delay. These hint at the quality of the end user’s experience, but they’re not enough to be crystal clear. To be meaningful to the business, performance must be measured as your customers experience it, not by internal IT metrics.  

* Watch out for third-party performance issues. Make sure you have a clear understanding of third-party performance that could affect end-user experience. A robust AA NPM installation should empower you to measure and verify SLA'S and ensure third-party applications and components are continually delivering at required performance service levels.

* Align to drive network performance using business metrics. It is important that your AA NPM approach enables you to align initiatives and prioritize activities to keep in lock-step with your measurable business goals. Alignment with business decision makers requires a common language and shared priorities. This doesn’t mean that the business units learn IT’s language, but rather the opposite; IT must learn the language of the business. Understanding end-user experience as a key metric of business productivity provides the foundation for this communication. This perspective becomes the means to translate underlying IT metrics – and expenditures – into business metrics, enabling mutually understood goals and decisions.

If you want an AA NPM strategy in place that isn’t just giving you a slice of what’s happening, but a comprehensive overview supported by complete facts and data to guide your approach to success, you need to know what to look for. With a progressive transaction-centric approach to AA NPM, you’ll be well-equipped to consistently achieve great performance.

Kaiser is a Subject Matter Expert in Network Performance Analytics at Dynatrace, responsible for DC RUM’s technical marketing programs. He is a co-inventor of multiple performance analysis features, and continues to champion the value of network performance analytics. He is the author of Network Application Performance Analysis (WalrusInk, 2014).


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