Many of my customers have benefited greatly from this hard-learned truism: If you don’t measure anything, everything that happens is significant. And if you measure everything, nothing that happens is insignificant.
To get full value from your business services and the software that facilitates them, it’s important to measure business services. The difficulty lies in creating a reasonable yardstick that allows everyone from the CIO to the mailroom clerk to measure how business services contribute to revenue generation and/or the organization’s goals.
That’s not the only nuance of measurement. As we covered in my last post, each business service has several components—switches, routers, database servers, web servers, application servers, etc. When I work with a company to implement CA SOI, our first order of business is to determine which business services CA SOI should monitor, and drilling down, whether all or some of a service’s components should be monitored.
Here’s a scenario: To have a fighting chance of competing with its major competitors, XYZ Airlines wants its ticket-buying process to be as easy as possible. Like 9 out of every 10 companies that ask for CA Services’ help with monitoring, XYZ is currently not monitoring any of its business processes. XYZ’s assumption is that monitoring the network is the logical place to start.
Has your company had discussions along these lines? Rather than help you monitor the network, which either is the environment for business services and/or one component among many components of business services, I encourage customers to adjust their view and understand why it’s important to create and monitor business services.
The best way to play out the above scenario is this: A CA Services SOI expert works with the company to identify each step of the process for purchasing a ticket on XYZair.com. (The exercise can be replicated for each step in other business service processes, such as getting seat assignments and buying products onboard the plane.) The questions we ask include, “Do we need to monitor all steps? If not, what steps are already monitored, what steps need to be monitored and what’s the best monitoring tool for each step?”
Many things have to happen on the back end for a customer to buy a ticket. The customer’s request goes to one of three or four ticket processing servers that back up one another. To create a viable business service, the Services expert needs to know how many servers there are and whether they are backed up round-robin style or lay in wait for a server to break down. The ticket purchasing software may have to go to a database to pull data from or to another website. Encryption and firewalls are necessary. Many parts of the network infrastructure are relied upon to deliver packets to and from websites, servers and databases.
The next step is to determine the metrics. What is the SLA for each business service component? The SLA is the litmus test, the quantification of each component’s importance. If the website takes 10 seconds to load a ticket, it might as well be 10 years. That needs to be flagged. Tools like APM, ASM and Spectrum quantify that response time and give alerts on response times that fall outside of the SLA. Other elements that can be measured are tests, APM calls, traffic on the network, and routers that have gone down and cause traffic to be detoured all over the world before getting to its destination.
Next up is determining which tool is the right tool for measuring each component. One of the reasons I’m so passionate about CA SOI is that it doesn’t require us to understand or plan for every contingency from the start; in that sense SOI is unique. We can start at 60,000 feet with the basic components, and as the team starts to understand the components of a business service, such as credit card processing details and other back-end intricacies, we can add devices that deal with those steps. All of these things have to work in synchronicity to create a great user experience, but with CA SOI, we don’t have to start in the weeds. The more you develop your business service, the more accurate the SLA becomes.
It’s a waste of time for a group of IT people to put 80% of their effort into finding the 20% of issues that cause 1% of the problems. The big issues are usually the issues that bring a system down. Prioritizing issues is key to success, and that’s where CA Services can help.
Learn more about CA Services and CA Application Performance Monitoring and Management.
Please comment with your experiences, questions or suggestions/requests for future posts.