Performance Management Takeaways from Gartner Data Center Conference

Performance Management Takeaways from Gartner Data Center Conference

The Gartner Data Center Conference is a key event for vendors like SevOne who value the face to face interactions with analysts and their presentations. Pete Cruz and I attended this year, and it was also great to go to Las Vegas in December vs. in July for Cisco Live when it was 100+ degrees outside. At this year’s Gartner Data Center (Gartner DC) conference, there was decidedly less cloud hype and more practical discussions on how cloud computing and mobility are impacting IT service delivery. SevOne’s focus is primarily on network performance and availability monitoring and service assurance, so we attended the sessions that were largely focused on application monitoring and mobility.

It is clear that the increasingly dynamic IT infrastructure and cloud-based delivery of applications components and applications themselves creates new challenges for the IT operations teams – and likewise, many challenges for the incumbent vendors. Some key sessions at the Gartner DC conference on this topic included “Achieving Proactive, Predictive, Business-Aligned Availability and Performance Monitoring” by Debra Curtis and Jonah Kowall, and “Net IT Out: Impact of Cloud Computing on Application Performance Monitoring,” by Kowall and John Enck.

A key question they addressed is, “Why should you care about availability and performance monitoring?” Their answer is because it helps one achieve a "management by exception" state and move toward the end goal of automatically responding to issues and correcting conditions before end users or business applications are affected. We certainly agree with this and further, we would like to see the Gartner analysts and the APM (Application Performance Monitoring) Magic Quadrant include a stronger focus on the network’s role in application delivery. While a key assumption appears to be that our networks themselves are increasingly stable and reliable, they do acknowledge the “blurring of the boundaries between higher level network services and applications” and the “rapid growth in the complexity and opacity of infrastructure and application components.” Further, networks are increasingly multi-vendor and fixed-mobile convergence is looming. Could the recent RIM service outages have been discovered and isolated sooner, or even prevented, with a stronger network performance management focus?

Today the network operations team has many avenues for increasing their awareness of services and applications crossing the network and how they are performing - including the end user experience - from flows, passive monitoring, and active latency measurements. The SevOne solution directly collects many metrics including flows from all devices, and also integrates with other management systems such as deep packet inspection probes to get end user or hop latency metrics, or with probe systems that do synthetic monitoring transactions. A key value that SevOne provides is the ability to have a global and uniform view of IT infrastructure and application performance. This enables the IT operations and engineering teams to proactively monitor network performance to ensure the infrastructure meets current service level agreements and addresses future demands.

With respect to cloud computing, Jon Oltsik of Enterprise Strategy Group summarized it well in a blog “The Network Performance Management Challenge,” earlier this year: “When it comes to server virtualization and cloud computing, network performance management may be an Achilles' heel.” Add to this the anywhere and anytime nature of using mobile devices (especially at work), and unified communications and fixed-mobile convergence. Bottom line, we see an increasing focus on the network performance management role, and that it is key to assuring application performance.

Back to the Gartner DC Conference, a couple of other stimulating sessions were, “Networking and Mobility Trends for the Next Decade” by Tim Zimmerman (e.g., wireless by default), and “Managing Mobile Devices in the Cloud” by Phil Redman. Jonah Kowall presents an interesting view from the life of an analyst and APM in his Data Center wrap up blog. I hope they pay him well for all of those meetings!

It would be great to hear your insights and experiences from the conference, especially on performance management so please leave a comment below.

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