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Managing availability in an app-centric environment

By Suaad Sait

Today’s ‘always on’ attitude or the clichéd ‘anytime anywhere’ work environment is continuing to blur the lines between work and play across businesses in EMEA. Companies are increasingly reliant on the support of applications to function, and if a service such as email, VPN or Microsoft Office goes down, huge amounts of revenue can be lost.

In fact, a recent survey by SolarWinds has found that in the UK, 94 percent of business end users believe that application performance and availability affects their ability to do their job, with a further 44 percent deeming application performance and availability to be absolutely critical. These findings are replicated across EMEA; of the 300 German end users surveyed, 57 percent deemed application availability to be business critical. Similarly, 85 percent of Danes surveyed indicated that application performance and availability affects their ability to complete a task.

Poor visibility into converged infrastructures and outdated management of the application stack can make or break a business – and the ultimate responsibility for application performance falls on the IT department. Ensuring the consistent availability and top performance of applications is far from a simple task, and it’s not getting any easier.

There are many ‘moving parts’ associated with modern applications, and problems with any one component can impact performance. With this in mind, there are a few simple steps that can be taken to streamline the application stack and reduce pressure placed on the IT department.

Remove traditional IT siloes

IT has traditionally functioned in siloes, managing servers, storage and other infrastructure elements separately for decades. However, thanks to the omnipresent consumerization of technology and emergence of BYO-everything, consumers now expect anytime, anywhere availability of apps over any number of devices.

To enable this, traditional capabilities have been overlaid with cloud and virtualization technologies. It isn’t uncommon to see organizations running a set of critical services on premise, another set of services on hosted infrastructure and additional services on public clouds. Multiple vendors, platforms and environments converge and can make what used to be management of a simple application increasingly complex. When this complexity is added to an already stretched infrastructure, app performance can suffer.

To better troubleshoot issues between the many moving parts of an application stack, IT pros need to move beyond the siloed mind-set and adopt a more holistic, app-centric view. They must seek a full view of the technologies supporting applications, and connect the dots between the full application stack; that is, the application code, software, and hardware components required for an application to operate at peak performance.

Concentrate on each individual app

Similarly, with the opportunity to be leaders of change in an app-centric world, IT pros should aim to minimise time spent identifying and remediating problems. How? Consider the following first:

  • Assess performance vs financial cost: for many organizations, a shift to a cloud model is often a purely financial decision. However, an application-centric IT department should consider performance as much as finances when it comes to compute, storage and networking technology, to avoid issues later on;
  • Combine the overall infrastructure: the more partners involved, the longer it takes to troubleshoot problems inside an application. IT pros should try to consolidate as much of the infrastructure as possible under internal management;
  • Enhance your infrastructure visibility: take control across the entire stack and ensure complete visibility of the infrastructure. Reliance on partners’ monitoring capabilities means that performance is on their terms.

With more and more businesses across Europe transitioning to the cloud and employees increasingly relying on application performance to do their jobs, understanding the app centric environment is essential. By breaking down traditional IT siloes and understanding how critical apps are becoming for business, IT pros can transition into the full application stack view to truly optimise performance: not only for the IT team, but the business as a whole.

The author
Suaad Sait is EVP products and markets, SolarWinds.

•Date: 11th November 2014 • UK/Europe/World •Type: Article • Topic: ICT continuity

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