Enterprise Performance Management Managing application performance over the network

Dennis Drogseth, Network Services Practice Leader and Vice President, Enterprise Management Associates

In July 2006, Dennis Drogseth, Network Services Practice Leader and Vice President with analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates, made the following observations:

"Managing applications across the network is accelerating in importance to a degree unimagined in the past because of the increasingly distributed nature of working, the growth in application complexity… managing application delivery over the network will require tightly-knit team dynamics supported by management technologies that allow application and network specialists to see the world consistently… the notion that managing application delivery over the network can be done effectively by a group of enclaved individuals with siloed tools - no matter how good those tools are - simply won't work when so much is at stake and when the levels of interdependency between network performance and application performance are so high."

Application performance problems cause ripple effects throughout a business, from reduced employee productivity to increased customer dissatisfaction and loss of business. They also significantly reduce IT department efficiency, as staff members are repeatedly pulled away from development projects to troubleshoot performance issues.

Why monitor application performance?

Companies have many reasons for monitoring application performance. A multinational supplier of engineered materials, natural resources, and technology-based services relies extensively on its mission-critical network to connect its many locations.

A MPLS migration was planned to support a global rollout of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application that would touch nearly every function of all its businesses. They needed a solution that could provide in-depth WAN insight, create utilization baselines, and help in properly prioritizing and managing the growth of applications on the network.

A major US commercial bank values good application performance because it maintains end users' productivity - so when problems do occur, the bank needs to troubleshoot them efficiently. "We were spending a minimum of 20 hours a month sometimes up to two or three weeks - trying to diagnose the cause of application slowdowns," says a network engineer. "We just didn't have the staff to keep doing that."

A particular problem, he notes, was trying to determine if a slowdown was a network issue or a server issue. "When our network team thought it was a server problem, the server team would often claim it was a network problem," he said. "It was difficult to pinpoint the exact trouble spot." Fluke Networks to the rescue.

Both of these companies have found Fluke Networks' Enterprise Performance Management solutions provide accurate, detailed insight into application performance throughout the enterprise. As a result, IT staff can quickly determine whether a problem is network, application, or server related and can rapidly resolve the issue.

For example, the CIO of the multinational supplier stated, "Visual UpTime Select was instrumental to the success of our multi-million dollar ERP initiative because it gave us the knowledge and confidence that our MPLS network was fully optimized for the rollout. With Visual UpTime Select, we could see how our ERP application performed on the network by viewing application throughput in real-time and we could quickly detect and troubleshoot traffic anomalies.

As we made our migration from frame relay to MPLS, the technology once again proved itself by providing us with the functionality to ensure the migration and the ensuing ERP deployment was quick and painless." Today, their network is served by three major carriers and supported internally by a handful of individuals. The company's network challenges are increasingly focused on managing the wide array of traffic - ERP, Citrix, email and Web, among the most notable - traversing its network.

In fact, the organization has seen a 35 percent growth in application utilization in the past few years across its 70 global sites. "Using Visual UpTime Select, we are able to pinpoint network traffic anomalies before they disrupt the flow of business," concluded the CIO. "This technology is the core component in our WAN management solution. It saves us significant time and money and allows us to deliver an exceptionally high level of WAN service at a reasonable cost."

While this organization needed complete WAN-based visibility into each of their locations, other companies have found that a data center-based approach to performance management is a better fit for their requirements. Fluke Networks provides its customers a variety of performance management options - creating unique solutions for unique needs.

The commercial bank finds SuperAgent's performance monitoring capabilities make the IT department more proactive, identifying and resolving problems before users are even aware of them. The tool's enhanced troubleshooting capabilities save them at least 20 hours a month.

Plus, it has made a big difference in the relationship between the network and server teams, replacing finger-pointing with cooperation. "Now the server team comes to us when they have a problem and asks us to monitor their servers," says a network engineer. "We also get requests for troubleshooting help from other business groups in the main office. They all think SuperAgent is fantastic - they are overwhelmingly impressed with its reports."

He also describes a case where slow performance of a vendor-hosted application was causing a department to fall behind in its work. SuperAgent identified the vendor's server as the source of the problem, and the vendor - who hadn't previously been aware of the difficulty - was able to quickly fix it. "We just couldn’t do any of this without SuperAgent," concludes the bank's network engineer.

For more information, please visit www.flukenetworks.com Tel: +44(0) 1923 281 334 or email: sales-uk@flukenetworks.com