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In the Software Defined Data Center, application response time trumps infrastructure capacity management

Gary Kaiser, Dynatrace | April 25, 2016
With applications consisting of a plethora of services delivered from a range of resources, End User Experience (EUE) is key

It’s unlikely you care about the number of VMs used, the utilization of these VMs, or the network congestion in the tunnel between the app and DB server tiers. You don’t want to hear about throughput on Salesforce’s REST API to KiteDesk. Instead, you care about the experience of your end users. How long does it take to login to the application? How responsive is site navigation? Are users encountering errors or availability problems?

This example illustrates how the service quality of a SaaS application can be abstracted to end-user experience (EUE). And as your private SDDC increasingly facilitates the delivery of applications as services, it holds a valuable lesson – service quality is in the eye of the consumer.

This doesn’t mean that data center monitoring is passé. You will still need to monitor infrastructure and application services, at least as a means of refining automation behavior and policy definitions. But insight into EUE does provide a lens through which to qualify these internal metrics.

As another example, let’s say a new app server is dynamically added to help support increasing demand, connected to the DB tier via a new network tunnel. The new location of the app server adds a few hundred microseconds to the tunnel’s latency. Could this be a problem?

That depends.  For some applications there would be no noticeable difference in EUE. But for others, even a few hundred microseconds of network delay at this tier might degrade the user’s experience to something on the wrong side of tolerable. Clearly, one scenario can be ignored, while the other demands immediate attention – to fix of course, but also to ensure that policies are adjusted to prevent recurrence.

Only EUE can put service quality into meaningful perspective.

While EUE has become popular over the last few years as a shared business and IT metric – a “nice-to-have” view – the abstractions and complexities of the SDDC will make it a critical metric for applications delivered as services.

Just as the applications rely on multiple platforms and stacks, so do your end users. Browsers and mobile apps may dominate the news, but there are many applications that use different client types, ranging from Oracle Forms and SAPGUI to RMI and virtual desktops infrastructures.

As such, you’ll need to choose appropriate EUE monitoring approaches to ensure all of your important applications (at least) are represented. Four popular approaches include:

  • JavaScript injection for browser-based apps
  • Synthetic monitoring (generally for browser-based apps as well, although some include non-web)
  • Probe-based monitoring, where the network probe includes transaction-oriented decodes with an understanding of end-user operations
  • Code injection (or “decoration”)

As IT continues on the path towards service-oriented IT, IT’s role must shift to become a competitive provider of application services – and EUE will become the overriding quality metric used by successful organizations.

 

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