One of the biggest challenges facing IT today is understanding how the myriad of systems across your organization fit and work together to identify the source of a problem when it occurs. In many cases, it takes a patchwork of programs and tools to understand just what’s happening and even then, it’s a difficult prospect. That’s when having good application performance monitoring (APM) tools can help in a big way.
In most instances, you probably have a clear idea of when a process fails, but it’s much harder to see the impact that failure has on your business. If you are a ecommerce web site, how much money are you losing? If you are an internal web application, how much productivity are your employees losing while the application is down?
These are difficult questions to answer, but become much easier with APM tools. Suddenly it’s not just the information that the process has failed — you probably hear your users screaming at you as soon as that happens — but the ability track all the way back to those individual users and exactly what they were doing when the process failed.
This ability to focus on the source of the failure is one thing, but the ability to see the impact across the system or to trace problems across your entire hardware, software and network enviroment is even more important, and this type of vision is a huge competitive advantage.
And it could help nip problems in the bud before they become news stories. Consider the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) recent problems with its IT systems as reported on the Retail Banker International web site.
CBA probably had no trouble learning that it had problems. I’m sure their customers who were having trouble getting cash from the ATM let them know about that in no uncertain terms soon enough, but it’s entirely likely that without good APM software, CBA could very well have had difficulty tracking the nature of the problem across its IT infrastructure.
The fact that according to the article, CBA was bragging how its new SAP system would it years ahead of the competition only adds to the embarrassment here. It’s something that many IT departments can probably relate to because these types of problems can strike anyone at any time.
The trick is to have good software in place to help you track the nature of the problem so that you can fix it as quickly as possible. Who knows how many customers CBA might have lost because of bad publicity. They certainly aggravated those existing customers who couldn’t get cash when they needed it (and weren’t likely to singing CBA’s praises to their friends).
These types of problems can have a spiraling effect on your company, especially when the problems affect outward facing customers, and even more so when the customer can hop on their social media tool of choice and complain to a wide network of friends and colleagues. The sooner you can identify the problem, the better and APM software can get you from recognition to resolution faster before the situations spins out of your control.