Making applications deliver

Research undertaken by application testing vendor Compuware with 100 Middle Eastern senior-level IT managers has found that 65% of organisations do not measure the service levels end users get from the applications although 71% of organisations have Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  November 30, 2004

|~|Michael-Allen-111.jpg|~|Michael Allen, global director for performance at Compuware. |~|Research undertaken by application testing vendor Compuware with 100 Middle Eastern senior-level IT managers has found that 65% of organisations do not measure the service levels end users get from the applications although 71% of organisations have Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place.

Measuring IT performance with regards to internal service providers represented by the company’s IT department serving their internal clients, such as business units and departments as well as external service providers, such as ISPs, ASPs, and other third-party service providers is critical — however, 68% are unable to monitor whether or not their SLAs are being fulfilled despite spending huge amounts on IT.

“It is very surprising that so many organisations are not measuring the service or performance levels end users are getting from applications. With applications playing such a central role in the way we do business now, their performance directly impacts both the productivity of employees and more importantly the profitability of the organisation,” explains Michael Allen, global director for performance at Compuware.

For a global picture, Compuware commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey senior IT managers regarding their approaches to application performance management. Using a structured methodology, 255 IT executives in North America and 175 IT executives in Europe, were interviewed like in the Middle East survey.

Interestingly, the results were similar. Of the 430 organisations, 73% of them were finding out about end-user problems and application performance from the end-users after the outage and not actually from the measurement tools.

“The Middle East survey and our global results are not too dissimilar, which shows the issues on the whole are the same. Right now SLAs are just a perception because [most] IT centric organisations are reactive to end user needs. What is the point of implementing SLAs if they can’t be measured whether they are being met,” questions Allen.

Although over 60% of SLAs from vendors, systems integrators and service providers offer monetary credit or pay penalty fees for failure to meet service commitments, businesses have no way of actually measuring, if not monetising application performance and to see how IT is performing for the business.

As such uptime and utilisation are traditional methods of measuring IT, but provide little visibility into how IT is actually performing. “They are various tools to measure the IT infrastructure performance such as bandwidth, server uptimes, CPUs, disk usage their usage versus the availability. But every department is measuring their own silo, while most users continue to get unsatisfactory service. Service levels should measured from where it matters the most i.e. the end-user against their expectations,” says Allen.

Compuware isn’t alone in this approach. Even other vendors such as Peregrine, Mercury Interactive, BMC Remedy, CA, HP Open View and IBM Tivoli. are now tightly integrating their traditional network management tools with help desk tools to now offer IT service management (ITSM) tools.

“Service-level management/business service management (SLM/BSM) technologies represent one of the two fastest-growing submarkets of the infrastructure management technologies market in 2004 — and will continue to do so through 2006. As a result, traditional infrastructure tool vendors will increasingly dominate the SLM market,” says Thomas Mendel, principal Analyst, Forrester Research.

By SLM, Mendel is refering to the process of measuring the service quality, reporting results and taking action to ensure the quality stays within agreed parameters. Taking this approach one step further by mapping the actual business processes to the underlying IT infrastructure is BSM, which is still in its infancy.

While these tools offer extensive snapshots of the network infrastructure and help manage it, they do not offer a granular level tracking at the application level from the end user’s perspective claims Compuware’s Allen. “Measuring end user response times, which can be presented from an IT, business and end-user perspective, is far more insightful. If the end-user is aware that they can expect a five second response from a particular application, they will have a greater understanding of what can be expected from IT.”

The 31-year old vendor is targeting regional enterprises through its application service level Vantage View suite. The software, which measures performance across clients, applications, servers and the network offers a web-based portal view to simplify access to the products and their reported data by consolidating them within one place.

The cross platform suite also comprises of three products specifically aimed at enabling smart application growth management. For example, Application Expert shows how changes in network latency, bandwidth, and load will affect end user response times. The WAN provisioning module further extends the capabilities of the App Expert by helping developers determine if their applications will perform within SLAs on the current network infrastructure. The Predictor product, like the name implies, lets users set specific parameters and then measure application response times. This directly aids in capacity planning and grow management claims the vendor.

With the price for Client Vantage, Active Agent and active agent script developer alone starting at US$33,600 for site locations, Compuware’s products could well be out of reach of most regional enterprises, still content with basic network management. But Allen is quick to add that the importance of IT to the company should make the case for deploying such SLM tools, rather than the price alone.

“Even if you are a small company, but with high revenue value generated through IT and absolutely dependent on it, such as e-businesses then if the performance of the online isn’t measured the customer will go else where. For large companies the more IT users, they internal or external…there is a greater need to service them well. It depends on the criticality, dependance on IT and the area of the business,” he says.

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