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The benefits of converged network and application performance management

Matt Zanderigo | July 14, 2014
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.

Point monitoring network and application performance solutions may seem relatively accurate in isolation, but elongated problem resolution timeframes don't lie. Take a look around and see if you have senior engineers from the application, network, infrastructure and database teams troubleshooting the same problem in parallel, wasting significant time, and not always finding the true causes of complicated issues. With a collection of these siloed tools many visibility gaps in your application delivery environment exist particularly, outside the narrow scope of this collection of tools, but also in-between the wide range of disparate components — especially when it comes to understanding their interdependencies, connections and conversations.

In short, point monitoring tools have proven to be ineffective early warning systems for application degradation, because they are neither comprehensive nor integrated, nor do they provide any cross-domain intelligence often showing everything is "OK" in spite of user complaints.

"Sometimes, a customer would report that an application wasn't running properly, or that a server wasn't responding to a request," says Stefan Thoma, senior network engineer at Flughafen Zürich AG,a private company that operates Zurich Airport. Companies based at Zurich Airport include airlines, retailers, hotels, and restaurants, all having their own respective WANs that connect to and rely on the airport LAN for accessing mission-critical applications.

Airlines, for example, require specialized applications for operations, such as bookings, reservations, check-in and electronic ticketing. As a result, the airport LAN connects to roughly 150 national and international networks and has more than 14,000 network connection points (access ports). "With such a complex network infrastructure, issues invariably arise, and we were spending a lot of time and manpower trying to resolve them. It was very hard to find the root of the problem. Many of our customers' data centers, for example, are based on another continent, so it was difficult to know whether the problem was due to our network or theirs."

In fact, according to Gartner, 70% of the time IT organizations learn about performance problems from end users. With organizations relying on applications to perform almost every task critical to the business, they can no longer wait for the phone to ring or start receiving user complaints to take action on business disrupting application failures.

The converged answer

The convergence of network and application performance is a reality, and a holistic understanding that carries a real return on investment (ROI), especially when performance problems aren't slipping through the cracks of your siloed monitoring tools.

What is needed is a solution that can make sense of it all and provide actionable information to resolve the most pressing performance issues. It's a requirement to have a detailed, quantitative understanding of whether the applications effectively meet business objectives, and to do so, an accurate representation of everything that can compromise application performance is needed — from poorly executing application code to an overloaded server or load balancer.


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