IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: A New Way of Thinking About APM Solutions with Thad Eidman, Knoa SoftwareSeptember 13, 2012 1 Comment
The evolution of Application Performance Management is more apparent today than ever before.
In the below interview, Thad Eidman from Knoa Software outlines some of the biggest APM changes that have occurred over the past few years, and how companies can reach beyond traditional APM solutions to optimize productivity and improve the end user experience.
Q.There seems to be a new way of thinking about APM solutions today as opposed to several years ago. Can you explain a bit about what you’ve witnessed within this evolution, and where you think it is heading?
A. The change that is in progress is very interesting. The APM market is still growing so you would expect broad satisfaction with these products. That is not the case. We conducted a survey at the end of a recent webinar on our views of Application Performance Management. About half of the respondents were unsatisfied or extremely unsatisfied with their APM toolset. Less than 25% were using any form of analytics or business intelligence to view the information from their APM tools. About a third noted that they had performance problems with new release deployments (change management) over 50% of the time. Clearly there is an opportunity for significant improvement.
There are three areas where we are seeing innovation to address these issues. One is the “60% of the functionality for 20% of the price” approach. A lot of the “left out” functionality is the harder stuff to implement and maintain. So even though there is less functionality, there is a higher execution success rate. The second area is the elimination of custom scripting by vendors such as Knoa. Customers simply cannot afford the initial implementation cost and ongoing maintenance of scripted products. Third is the realization by customers that there are different classes of products for different use cases. If you want back end in-depth monitoring don’t come to us, go to a traditional APM player. If you want in-depth end user performance monitoring, don’t go to the APM players, come to us.
Q. How does the ability to provide performance metrics on the end user experience help to “bridge the gap” between IT and business performance?
A. Today most of the CIO’s and information technology teams are flying blind when it comes to real user experience. This is both from the perspective of the infrastructure performance (end-to-end response time from the time the enter key is depressed to the time the screen is refreshed with new data) and the user performance and proficiency. In order to connect the business to IT you must have business context. Business context can’t be obtained by monitoring the HTTP stream in the network. You need to have the context of the process and all of the user’s actions. What was the user doing before, during and after the issue? You can start to immediately understand what the user is experiencing – for example, the interrogation typical of the IT service desk and functional support process is no longer required. You can see clearly the types of errors the user experienced and exactly how they interacted with the system. You can see that perhaps when one user says, “the system lost the transaction” that in this instance, the user failed to push enter on the save button. You can see all of the system errors, user errors and most of the time, master data errors. Now, IT and the business have a common language to use to determine the nature of the issue and the function that should be focused on fixing it. Remember, that more than 65% of the time we find that performance issues have NOTHING to do with the application or IT. It’s the users.
A perfect example of this gap today is the trauma associated with service level agreements. User experience management brings IT and the Line of Business together with a common viewpoint and framework for exactly how the systems are working, user by user, transaction by transaction, function by function, process by process, for their user community.
Q. How do Knoa’s solutions reach beyond traditional APM tools and work “outside of the box” to reduce cost, improve productivity, and optimize the end user experience?
A. APM tools are really designed for objective measurement of the IT infrastructure – the performance of devices. Over time, they now include the performance of transactions, primarily WEB transactions. But these metrics in many cases have little to do with the performance of the end users. These metrics don’t match, in many cases, the actual experience being encountered by the actual end users. How many times does the business hear user complaints about system performance and it indicates that all systems are “green”. This is because the picture is incomplete.
UEM takes it a step further – now we can see the performance received and achieved by real users from actual desktops. Most APM tools have no visibility to this information let alone understand the dynamic content at the desktop. So Knoa provides a view of both the infrastructure performance (application) and the user performance (user derived issues). When you put these two kinds of metrics together then magic happens – you have both the IT and the business context in one language and one set of metrics.
For example, British Telcom uses our system to understand user performance in the Call Center. They have told us they save over 1.5 million pounds per year in hard operating financial benefits. McKesson, a very visionary customer, is similarly saving millions of dollars per year in harvesting the benefits of User Experience Management.
Thad Eidman serves as Chief Executive Officer of Knoa Software. Thad has extensive experience in the information services and software markets that is a unique blend of entrepreneurial and corporate experience.APPLICATION INTEGRATION, Fresh Ink, Inside the Briefcase