EXPERT ADVICE

The Lifecycle Approach to Shaping Up Flabby Mission-Critical Apps

“The 2008 Aberdeen Report: The State of the Market” reveals that investments in new enterprise applications are the top IT initiative for 2008. Aberdeen’s research also shows that, on average, organizations are using six business-critical applications and are planning to roll out four new applications over the next two years. The research also shows that 58 percent of organizations surveyed are unsatisfied with the performance of their current applications. The top pressures driving the adoption of application performance management solutions are:

  • The need to improve employee productivity (54 percent of all survey respondents);
  • The need to improve responsiveness to external customers (53 percent);
  • The need to effectively support plans for business growth (42 percent).

The research further shows that application performance issues impact overall corporate revenues by up to 9 percent. This impact is not only related to the customer-facing Web-based applications in business-to-customer (B2C) environments, but also to issues with applications that are being used by customer-facing employees such as CRM or ERP (enterprise resource planning). Issues with these applications impact the effectiveness of these employees and their ability to communicate their organization’s value proposition to customers and prospects and generate revenues.

The Lifecycle Approach

As organizations roll out out more applications and performance of these applications becomes increasingly important for achieving their business goals, they are taking the lifecycle approach for managing application performance. This approach starts with predicting application performance in development and pre-deployment stages and eliminating performance bottlenecks before applications are rolled out. The lifecycle approach includes development of capabilities for monitoring, analyzing and optimizing application performance in production.

Additionally, organizations want to improve visibility into application performance as well as to develop formal communication channels between different groups in organizations that are in charge of application performance, such as application development, network management, systems management, application Q&A and the business side of the organization.

Aberdeen surveyed 206 organizations between May and June of 2008 to examine best practices for managing application performance. These findings serve as guidelines to organizations looking to improve the performance of their business critical applications.

Application Performance Issues Impact Key Business Goals

All of the top concerns surrounding application performance could be summarized as: lack of network capacity, lack of visibility into network and application performance, the need for visibility into the quality of the end-user experience, and an increase in the complexity of enterprise applications.

In order to effectively deal with all these concerns, Best-in-Class organizations have developed a mix of capabilities and have deployed technology enablers to support their strategic plans for managing the full lifecycle of application performance. The selection of application performance management solutions and integration with business intelligence and business process management systems plays a crucial role in the ability to turn these strategies into profit.

  • Process: Ninety percent of organizations in Aberdeen’s survey reported that they are aware of what is causing application performance problems. However, more than 60 percent of these organizations reported that they actually do not have capabilities for analyzing application response times in pre-production and production stages. Best-in-Class organizations are nearly four times more likely to have the ability to predict application response times prior to the deployment as compared to all other companies, and they are nearly three times more likely to be able to identify the source of response time delays in production as compared to Laggards.
  • Organization: One of the top strategic actions organizations are taking to optimize application performance is to improve the usability of collected performance information. To achieve this, Best-in-Class organizations are combining the deployment of technology tools with the development of organizational capabilities in order to improve the effectiveness of these investments. Best-in-Class organizations are six times more likely to be using a single platform for monitoring all aspects of application performance as compared to Laggards. This approach allows them to collect in-depth information about interdependencies between applications on the network, interdependencies between applications, the network itself, and other parts of enterprise infrastructure, including information about application availability and response times.
  • Technology: Sixty-two percent of organizations in Aberdeen’s survey report that they use Web applications to support their employees, and 45 percent of organizations are using these applications as revenue-generating tools. However, more than a half of these organizations are not satisfied with the performance of these applications.

    Best-in-Class companies are nearly five-times more likely to have tools for optimizing Web application performance in real time as compared to Laggards and are also more likely to utilize tools for ongoing monitoring and load-testing of these applications as compared to all others. This approach allows Best-in-Class organizations to outperform their peers by significant margins. Aberdeen’s research shows that Best-in-Class organizations are five times more likely to reduce the occurrence of Web browser timeouts as compared to Laggards. Additionally, the Best-in-Class report an average of 106 percent improvement in application availability as compared to only 23 percent improvement for all others.

The top strategic action organizations take to manage application performance is a focus on managing the full lifecycle of application performance. It should be noted that this is the top strategic action for all Best-in-Class, Industry Average and Laggard companies. But the difference between the three groups is that Best-in-Class companies are two to six times more likely to deploy technology solutions for managing application performance in pre-production and for monitoring, analyzing and optimizing applications in production stages. Best-in-Class organizations are nearly four times more likely to be using a simulated network environment for testing application performance in pre-production stage as compared to all others.

Performance Management

Employee productivity and customer responsiveness are the top two pressures driving organizations to invest resources in application performance management solutions. Best-in-Class organizations are nearly twice as likely to be able to measure the quality of the end-user experience as compared to Laggards. Best-in-Class organizations achieve superior performance in metrics such as application availability, response times and the ability to prevent application performance issues due to the mix of capabilities they have implemented to manage the full lifecycle of application performance. These organizations are taking an additional step and are measuring application performance not only from the perspective of their IT departments, but also from the end-user perspective. These organizations are ensuring that improvements in application availability and response times are translating into improved employee satisfaction and productivity, and ultimately, improved customer satisfaction, mitigation of lost revenue opportunities and avoiding damages to brand image.

To read the entire benchmark report and find out more about what Best-in-Class companies are doing to achieve superior results in terms of Aberdeen’s key performance metrics, please click here.


Bojan Simic is a senior research analyst in network management at the Aberdeen Group. Tom Karol is a research associate in technology markets at the Aberdeen Group.


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