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    Categories Industry InsightsPerformance Monitoring

Firefighting at Scale

As many of our customers have discovered, constant firefighting of performance issues is not a sustainable plan for growth. It’s a common predicament, though. In many data centers now, older legacy applications are running some business functions, while newer SaaS and web-based apps are running others. They’re on different networks, with entirely different architectures. But the goals of these old and new apps remain the same: to perform the many tasks needed to allow end users to do their jobs.

Enabling (and even pleasing) end users isn’t a simple goal these days. They’re accessing this range of on- and off-premises apps as needed, and are expecting them all to perform well. But from IT’s perspective, any number of performance issues can crop up in this motley collection of applications.

In this hodgepodge IT environment, adding new locations as part of corporate growth comes with a full complement of challenges for IT: setting up the local and wireless networks, connecting the central office or data center with the new location and trying to get some sense of how users are experiencing the new systems—ideally before they start flooding the help desk with tickets.

One of AppNeta’s customers, National Instruments, depended on traditional network tools, which only showed them basic information like network path health and metrics like response time, availability, uptime and latency. The IT team found themselves constantly patching existing tools, leaving little time to actually solve problems. Plus, those previous tools’ data was skewed by layered-on technology like a WAN accelerator, and the sampling data was averaged out, making it useless for business decisions. That old approach wasn’t exactly fitting into NI’s SaaS and cloud deployments of business-critical apps. They needed to modernize, but the old baggage of the data center was stifling their growth.

Tending Carefully to Business Growth

There’s so much to like about web applications, and they’re ideal for growing with a business. They scale really quickly and they’re easy to implement and use. IT can deploy them to users thousands of miles away, if needed, without much overhead or training needed. They also upend the traditional way that IT helps users get work done, and IT can lose sight of them immediately after deployment.   

IT can’t be the obstacle to growth when it’s responsible for the tech backbone of the entire operation, including established and new locations. Traditional legacy tools need monitoring, but the traditional monitoring tools that go along with them aren’t going to cut it when modern apps make an appearance. Key apps like Salesforce, Office 365 or Box can easily become black holes for IT teams, even as their users are spending much of their time using those apps. For those SaaS apps, 90% of their delivery path is beyond the firewall. Networking technology has to keep up, and so does monitoring technology. A modern monitoring tool can see the network all the way back to its hosting site to uncover any problem areas.   

In our modern era, it’s possible to achieve growth that seems smooth to users and the business side, and that lets IT ditch some of the juggling and firefighting they’ve been doing. Whether users are down the hall or thousands of miles away, IT teams can see how they’re experiencing an application with the right monitoring technology. If there’s any issue, IT can see where the problem lies—ISP? configuration tweak?—and fix it for good, not just temporarily while they attend to other issues.

National Instruments picked AppNeta’s monitoring tools to solve its chronic performance issues and prep for growth. Another customer, a healthcare organization serving multiple hospitals and practices, can scale to new locations in a streamlined, pre-planned way with its AppNeta deployment. Performance monitoring before a location is even up and running lets the central IT team assess the situation and plan accordingly.

AppNeta can monitor ISP performance, device data, wireless performance and availability of devices—all of which contain crucial information about infrastructure health, both at a central office and remote ones. Those details are the ones IT needs to know to scale systems without growing pains.

Christine Cignoli: Christine Cignoli is a technology writer based in Boston. She's written about storage, data center infrastructure, virtualization and enterprise apps for more than ten years, and has a master's in publishing and writing from Emerson College.