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End-to-End Application Performance Management

By Mike Harding, APM Product Marketing Manager
September 21, 2007

Summary

Business-critical applications require end-to-end performance management protection to ensure uptime and peak performance. Symantec APM is an integrated solution that reduces the costs of IT troubleshooting, lost revenues, and lost end-user productivity.

Introduction

Organizations today conduct a growing portion of their business on complex, multi-tier applications. These are employed across industries for telecommunications, banking, securities, government, online retail, medical care, and more. When a problem occurs in the application, the costs can mount quickly – in terms of valuable IT staff time, lost revenues, and lost end-user productivity. According to research commissioned by Symantec, the typical IT organization spends 24% of its time troubleshooting; for a Global 2000 company, that’s a $30 million-per-year drain on its IT payroll.
The particular challenge of maintaining complex applications is that they cut across separate IT silos. An application will often include a Web tier, application logic, a database, and a storage tier. The successful execution of the application – let’s say, transferring money from a checking to savings account – requires the successful, coordinated execution of transactions within each tier. The challenge for IT is when a problem occurs and it’s not evident at which tier the problem exists. This leads to finger pointing and “blame storming” between IT teams.
Of course, companies understand what’s at stake, and they have been enabling their technology experts with tools and utilities that help them better tune their databases and optimize their code. In fact, the average organization uses over five different application management point products along with custom scripts (source: Source, Enterprise Management Associates Inc, September 2007). This, however, doesn’t necessarily lead to faster problem resolution, because hours or days can be spent just locating the problem. What is required is a single, end-to-end view that can pinpoint where the problem lies within the multi-tier application stack. And that, ideally, then enables the quick resolution of the problem’s root cause.

Symantec’s approach to performance management

It’s recognized that an enterprise-class application performance management solution requires a few key components: Complete end-to-end monitoring of all components, consolidated reporting through a single view, and an ITIL-aligned dashboard.
Symantec offers a comprehensive application performance management solution that matches this best-in-class approach. The Symantec Application Performance Management (APM) solution comprises three major product components:
  • Symantec Application Service Dashboard – Application Service Dashboard (ASD) integrates monitoring and business performance metrics into a single view that can be customized for application stakeholders. ASD is a cornerstone component of an IT Service Management portal effort.
  • Symantec Insight Inquire – Insight Inquire delivers 24x7 automated availability monitoring for business-critical Web applications. It uses synthetic transactions to monitor applications from multiple geographies without requiring real user data.
  • Symantec i³ – Symantec i³ is the core of our solution, delivering performance monitoring and management. Symantec i³ collects real user performance data from multi-tier applications, offers a single view of application status, and provides integrated tools for underlying environment tuning and rapid drill-down for problem resolution.

Symantec i³ version 8.0 enhancements

In August, 2007, Symantec released i³ version 8.0. Developers worked to deliver benefits within a few targeted themes, as follows:
  • Faster problem resolution – The most pressing need for customers was to reduce the typical $30 million IT payroll spent on troubleshooting by speeding up problem resolution. To that end, Symantec expanded SmartLink platform support. SmartLink is the i³ correlation engine that relates transactions from separate technology tiers within an application. It now covers SAP, .NET, and Microsoft SQL server. In addition, SmarTune – Symantec’s unique capability for tuning, bottleneck identification, expert advice, and what-if analysis – is now available for .NET, SQL Server, and was enhanced for J2EE. Finally, Symantec created in-context drill-downs – a unique feature providing a familiar tree view of a transaction path crossing multiple application tiers, so that troubleshooting can span multiple environments without requiring changing screens or products. Symantec now has this capability connecting SAP to Microsoft SQL Server, as well as for .NET to Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Easier deployment and administration – A Command Line Interface was added to i³, which is crucial for enterprise customers in order to offer finer administrative control as well as the ability to integrate automated provisioning solutions. Role-based Administration was also added to i³, providing better control over who can access managed environments or view data for managed instances.
  • Creating a performance management platform – A software developer kit (SDK) was added to i³ so that custom application collector agents can be developed for applications not currently supported out-of-the-box by i³. Symantec expanded platform support for i³, now spanning a matrix of 3,000 application, database, middleware, storage platform, and operating system versions. The next version of Application Service Dashboard will enable broad access to application performance metrics as well as support for IT Service Management efforts.

Conclusion

All types of enterprises rely upon complex, multi-tier applications in order to successfully conduct business today. These applications require end-to-end monitoring to ensure availability and performance. Symantec Application Performance Management, along with the enhancements in i³ 8.0, delivers faster problem resolution, easier deployment and administration, as well as a complete performance management platform. Symantec APM is a performance management solution adopted as a standard for data center-wide performance management.

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