by Greg Ferro

Mapping Expectations To Deliverables

from the human-intelligence-required dept

The area of greatest complexity for Application Performance Monitoring is the mapping of business expectations to the deliverables from the technology. When a business spends capital on a monitoring system, they do so in expectation of solving a business problem, but oftentimes the software does not readily provide status reports that are completely meaningful.

For example, let's consider using Cacti for monitoring network performance. Cacti is an open source package, and it's usually one of the first monitoring systems deployed when network monitoring is needed. In a real sense, Cacti and its widespread use sets a base standard for Performance Monitoring -- a standard that is regularly exceeded by commercial tools. Cacti, in a basic install, can deliver only graphs of performance information. That is, by polling devices or servers in the data center at regular intervals, it can populate a circular database with the values. The data points can then be plotted onto a simple graph, and the software can poll the current CPU utilisation of a firewall. This value is typically the instantaneous CPU value at time of poll, and gives a very good view over time of the utilisation of the firewall CPU. Cacti could also be configured to poll the number of concurrent connections, also a key indicator of firewall performance. And charting the number of concurrent connections over the period of day, weeks and months will give a baseline suitable for budgeting the next replacement firewall. However, despite all this data collection, an experienced engineer also knows that these criteria are not the only factors that determine firewall upgrades. Other issues relating to firmware upgrades, growth in firewall rules and new security features are more likely to have a major impact on firewall performance.

Based on this example, it can be seen that Application Performance Monitoring can be helpful in understanding the performance of devices, but the deliverables (eg. Firewall Performance) requires interpretation and expertise to get an answer that the business requires. This means that Application Performance Monitoring requires both tools and knowledge to meet the expectations of the business.

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