I have a confession to make....I'm not a very good writer. I'm essentially an engineer at heart. However there are some very talented people at CA who are. These unsung heroes can turn what we say into to what we actually want to say and I for one have no hesitation in calling this out. Why? because its a perfect example of collaboration. So here's an update of my previous blog re ABAP PWP with some significant assistance from Adam Frary. Its still not ready for external publication but I thought it interesting to show how these things develop.
Imagine if application users could see behind the serenity of the well-crafted – or sometimes cobbled together- user interfaces that deliver the “seamless” user experiences envisioned in white boarding brainstorm sessions, agile big room planning or countless hours invested in flow diagrams?
They would likely have an eye-popping moment as they grasp the modern application architectures and come to understand the range of technologies working across on-premises and cloud infrastructures, middleware, APIs and microservices to present data, ensure security, optimise availability and performance and, be readily adaptable to address new business requirements. It’s a truly remarkable feat. Oddly, none of this happens seamlessly; instead, there are countless seams that must be forded and managed to abstract a “seamless experience” for users.
And, none of this complexity is delivered overnight. It accumulates over time. This causes the next challenges for IT:
- How do we monitor performance across the full expanse of a modern application?
- How do we know our customers are getting the best value and experience from the application?
- Do we have the information needed to precisely isolate issues when they arise? Is the data in a meaningful actionable context for each group of stakeholders?
- Are teams using the data, remediating issues and learning over time?
To deliver desired capabilities, modern application management systems bring the disparate technologies together for developers, testers and operators. To deliver desired performance and user experience, application performance management (APM) needs to work across technologies in a similar fashion, and also present data and insights in a context meaningful for developers, testers, operators and product owners. APMs must collate and provide user views with timely, precise, accurate and actionable insights. By interpreting, baselining and differentiating <missing word>, APM brings value to all levels of application ownership; not just the developer who can interpret the raw data. All this is quite reasonable until one looks at a complex application ecosystem such as an ERP solution where the complexities can expand exponentially.
Consider an SAP environment for example.
With a mix of programming environments, (Java and SAP Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP)) for SAP, customers often use multiple tools to manage performance. As a result, specific issues may be overlooked or not monitored by the right stakeholders and, more importantly, context for the issue may be lost or not clearly conveyed.
Many SAP customers use a combination of SAP Extended Diagnostics (SED) and Solution Manager (SM) based components to capture and independently present performance metrics and transaction data. Think of this as using a cross-platform “swivel chair approach” with users of the data pivoting from issue to issue – not seeing the full ecosystem in a context-rich, coordinated way. This approach can be time consuming, frustrating to stakeholders and difficult to sustain over time. The worst scenario is that teams responsible for performance lose focus and incorrectly limit the scope of what they monitor due to the effort and complexity of using many tools.
Context helps teams learn. Since modern applications increase in complexity during their lifecycle – with few exceptions, teams can benefit from an APM approach that provides context which helps connect performance data to actionable insights and outcomes. For the SAP example, teams benefit when they can see cross-application transactions traces that traverse Java, J2EE and ABAP environments - something for all ERP shops to get excited about!
This makes for a much better user experience when trying to diagnose an issue when it’s not clear exactly where the issue lies.
Stay tuned…in my next blog I will provide some technical detail focused on SAP/ABAP performance management, Java, PHP, .NET and Node JS.