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Chris Neal: Is the cloud ready for mission critical apps?

BlueStripe Software is a leading provider of Transaction, Application, and Server Monitoring Solutions for IT Operations and Support teams. BlueStripe’s flagship Application Monitoring software, called FactFinder, delivers Transaction Monitoring, Application Management, and Infrastructure Monitoring in a single tool, tracking transactions end-to-end across the data center and through the cloud. This transaction-centric approach allows IT Operations teams to know where Transactions go, where they get stuck, and why.

Rake Narang: How does a transaction-centric approach increase the efficiency and effectiveness of application management?

Chris Neal: Let me throw one word out to start: Complexity. Today’s application systems are growing in complexity. Even a simple “Login” to a system may cross 10 to 20 different servers and systems. Throw multiple operating systems, middleware, and hybrid-cloud into the mix and IT Operations has their hands full.

This complexity has led to management screens in the Operations Center being peppered with warning and error messages (sometimes thousands per minute). Honestly, Operations staff really have no idea where to even start when that happens. A transaction-centric approach allows warnings and alerts to be prioritized by showing which transactions specific systems and messages are tied to, and whether the transaction or application is experiencing any slow transactions.

Ultimately, transaction-centric management is the closest thing an Operations or Support team has to the actual end user use of the infrastructure, so it’s a perfect way to start a management strategy.

About Chris Neal

Rake Narang: What do IT Operations personnel need to do in order to identify application slowdowns, before they become an issue?

Chris Neal
: IT Operations teams need three things:

First, they need to understand the application architecture.

Just knowing which servers and processes make up an application’s ecosystem seems obvious, but it is actually rare. Going deeper - knowing where the individual transactions go truly enables the team to monitor for trouble, and quickly eliminate problems.

Second, IT Operations teams need to know where individual transactions get stuck.

At a joint webcast with BlueStripe, Forrester Research discussed how most of the time spent eliminating production problems is figuring out where the problem occurred. The best way for Ops teams to do that is end-to-end, dynamic transaction monitoring.

And third, they need to know why transactions get stuck.

Getting to the root cause of problems is the job of IT Operations management software. What I mean by this, though, is break through the usual root cause hand waving (“Hey, the database is slow. Fix it, please”) and implement the ability to drill down right from a problem transaction into its infrastructure layers, finding the true CAUSE of the slow database (whether it’s a CPU allocation issue, an un-indexed table, or a storage bandwidth problem.

So to summarize: IT Operations Teams need end-to-end Transaction Monitoring.

Rake Narang: With the ever increasing complexity of today’s application environments, is efficient real-time transaction monitoring realistic?

Chris Neal: It is – with the right toolset. Part of the complexity of the systems comes from dynamic infrastructure. Servers are loosely connected, SOA principles are shining through, and we’re seeing a big increase in hybrid-cloud application topologies – with core components in the datacenter and web tiers pushed out to Azure or other cloud environments.

Dynamic architectures result in lots of rapid changes. Systems that require edits to the management tracking when the application changes fall out of date fast. Goodbye transactions. Hello late night problem-solving sessions.

Operations teams love their transaction monitoring systems, but only if those systems can adapt in real time. Fortunately, there are ways of dynamically discovering and updating transaction paths (and application topology maps) without requiring any coding, or special instrumentation.

So as long as the transaction monitoring tool doesn’t require any custom tagging or manual mapping, it will handle the most complex applications – even in hybrid architectures.

Rake Narang: Is the cloud ready for mission critical apps?

Chris Neal: Definitely – but with two caveats.

First, for the immediate future mission critical apps will use a hybrid-cloud environment. This will give IT teams the best of both worlds – the flexibility they get with on-demand cloud services, and the security & control they achieve by running critical back-end systems on data center hosted servers.

Second, moving mission critical apps to a hybrid-cloud environment requires that user transactions be managed end-to-end, with cloud-based systems and datacenter systems tied together from a performance management perspective.

With proper management and an effective hybrid cloud deployment plan, companies will finally be able to realize the promises of cost savings and efficient scaling offered by cloud-based implementation. One final thing – BlueStripe’s FactFinder delivers hybrid cloud transaction monitoring – tracing transaction performance hop-by-hop across both the data center and cloud-based infrastructure components. This capability is becoming a must-have tool for any mission critical application being deployed in a hybrid-cloud.

Company: BlueStripe Software
2803 Slater Road, Suite 125, Morrisville, NC 27560 U.S.A.

Founded in: 2007
CEO: Chris Neal
Public or Private: Private
Head Office in Country: United States
Products and Services: FactFinder
Company's Goals: BlueStripe’s FactFinder monitors many of the world’s most critical applications. Enterprise IT teams use the software to detect and fix bottlenecks before users are affected. With FactFinder, they can track transactions anywhere they go—across the datacenter and the cloud. BlueStripe also adds dynamic application maps and Service Level alerts to Microsoft System Center 2012.
Key Words: Application Performance Management, Business Transaction Management, Business Transaction Monitoring, Application Management, Transaction Monitoring, IT Operations Management, IT Performance Monitoring, APM, BTM, System Center 2012, Operations Manager.

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