Infrastructure management in the application economy

CA Technologies

By Stephen Miles, VP, Service Assurance, CA Technologies Asia Pacific and Japan
Monday, 20 October, 2014

Infrastructure management in the application economy

The application economy is driving a software revolution as the delivery of business value is increasingly taking place in digital interactions facilitated by applications. It’s a fundamental shift that should be on every business leader’s agenda, because success in the application economy will be the difference between growth and decline.

This is the key result from a recent study we conducted in Australia. The study - The Geeks Were Right: How to Thrive in the Application Economy ­- reveals that Australian businesses realise the importance of the application economy, with 72% of business leaders in Australia saying that custom-built applications are either very strategically important or fundamental to the organisation’s success.

However, only 30% believe they are ready to meet these expectations, while the rest are either only just exploring the application economy or don’t currently have a strategy in place.

So what should these companies be considering in order to get a strategy in place?

Application success is more than just writing code - it’s about making sure the code runs magnificently in production. IT leaders who want to ensure their company’s success in the application economy must therefore rethink infrastructure management.

Here’s why:

The job is tougher. Applications run in hybrid environments that encompass conventionally provisioned back-end systems, virtualised on-premise infrastructure, external cloud resources (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc) and any number of external networks.

Monitoring and troubleshooting application delivery across these hybrid environments is extremely challenging, because they have multiple parts moving across multiple domains.

Traditional approaches to infrastructure management are incapable of delivering the end-to-end, real-time insight necessary to successfully safeguard application delivery 24/7 in this new world.

Expectations are greater. Today’s user has a ‘Google mentality’. That is, they experience a site every day that distills a search result from the entire web within a fraction of a second - and which is never down. These users have little patience for anything less.

Most IT organisations are not equipped to fulfil those kinds of expectations. So things obviously have to change.

Resources are limited. No company has unlimited resources to throw at the new challenges of hybrid environments and Google-based expectations. In fact, companies are less inclined than ever to invest in infrastructure management - which is perceived as a low-value ‘keeping the lights on’ activity.

This makes it essential for IT to radically improve the resource efficiency with which it manages infrastructure.

The stakes are higher. Once upon a time, the only consequence of subpar application performance was some lost productivity. In the application economy, however, downtime or poor performance - even briefly - means you will lose revenue, alienate customers and damage your brand.

These are not acceptable outcomes. But they are what companies will suffer if they stick with the status quo.

These factors and others make it imperative for IT to reassess the approach to infrastructure management. Key questions to consider include:

  • Are we trying to force antiquated management tools to address the requirements of a hybrid, virtualised future? Is this sustainable?
  • Will the economics of our current approach to infrastructure management - including the costs of skilled staff, management software licences, etc - scale as our application delivery requirements continue to expand?
  • How long does it take our current management model to respond to new and/or upgraded applications? Is this tenable as our company moves to DevOps and continuous delivery?
  • Are our processes and tools able to scale to meet the increased quality of experience expectations for a rapidly increasing estate of business-critical applications?

IT leaders who ask these questions now will be in a superior position to compete in the application economy. Those who don’t will find themselves overspending and underperforming - with potentially disastrous results.

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