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The need for application-aware infrastructure

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By Rishikesh Kamat- Product Head – Managed Security & IMS – NTT Global Data Centers and Cloud Infrastructure, India

Digital initiatives are accelerating across the board, with every company launching a series of apps. User expectations from apps too have been higher than ever before. At the backend, enterprises struggle to put across the required IT infrastructure that is desired to meet high performance needs and expectations. In a diverse and complex IT landscape, customer experience can be impacted due to a number of reasons. While enterprises try to improve IT infrastructure to improve application uptime and performance, it often becomes difficult for enterprises to find out the root cause of application downtime or low performance.

With more people accessing digital applications today, the business of an enterprise depends completely on the user experience. Finding ways to connect IT resources and application performance to business outcomes is difficult as applications become more distributed, diverse, and interdependent. Modern application architectures, micro-services, and multi-cloud environments, combined with silos that create gaps between business, DevOps, and operations teams, make it nearly impossible to manage applications and infrastructure complexity at scale and expose the business to unnecessary risk. There is hence a need for enterprises to bridge the gap between applications and IT infrastructure and continuously optimize the environment to support better business outcomes. To fulfill this objective, an application performance monitoring (APM) tool can be perfect and can help in enabling an application-aware infrastructure.

How APM tools can help

APM tools can help enterprises deliver flawless digital experiences by connecting end-user experience and application performance to business outcomes. APM tools can monitor, correlate, analyze and act on application and business performance data in real time. This automated, cross-stack intelligence enables developers, IT ops, and business owners to make the mission-critical and strategic improvements that help in delighting customers at every moment. These superior levels of insights allow enterprises to watch every line of code and understand its impact on user experience and application performance.

The APM tool can discover and map business applications and study how they use IT resources. These insights can be provided to a workload optimizer which can then orchestrate and drive actions in the IT landscape to help ensure that application components get the computing, storage, and network resources they need for workload placement, capacity, and scaling. Together, these intelligent tools replace sizing guesswork with real-time analytics and modeling so that enterprises know how much infrastructure is needed to allow applications and business to keep pace with demand. With traditional infrastructure monitoring, the application and its components are essentially a black box. This is where APM tools can help by enabling an application-aware infrastructure, which is made possible by gaining insights into application resource utilization, composition and performance in context to the infrastructure.

The key areas where APM tools make a difference 

Providing Visibility: For application-aware infrastructure optimization to work, the first thing enterprises need is visibility into all four layers of the stack: the application and business layer, the infrastructure, the network, and security. An APM tool can provide the single pane of glass needed for that holistic visibility across public and private cloud environments.

Providing Insights: When combined with AI and machine learning algorithms, an APM tool can make correlations between the time series and events data from each layer of the technology stack, plus any alerts and APIs that enterprises are using to create a unified dashboard. These insights can be useful for taking into account both infrastructure metrics (CPU, memory, data storage, etc.) and application performance to make decisions on how to optimize the IT environment.

Taking Action: If the APM tool detects business and application performance issues and the correlations between them and correlates these issues to underlying constraints in the IT infrastructure, it can take action to rightsize the infrastructure environment for specific needs. Enterprises can also use APM tools to automate workload placement, scaling, and capacity to drive continuous health and assure performance while maximizing efficiency. They can also quickly model what-if scenarios based on real-time conditions to forecast capacity needs. Additionally, if the APM tool identifies app code hotspots driving up infrastructure costs, it can provide insights into underutilized infrastructure that could be optimized for cost efficiency and performance. As one can see, an APM tool is vital for creating an application-aware infrastructure.

In summary, the performance of all applications relies on allocated infrastructure resources. An APM tool can help in providing the right insights to enterprises to enable them to better size the infrastructure while simultaneously continuously analyzing application resource consumption and compliance costs to dynamically allocate resources in real-time when they need them. With a common understanding of horizontal (application) and vertical (full stack) dependencies, an APM solution can better align IT infrastructure to create an application-aware infrastructure.

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