“It is all a matter of perspective!”  This old adage rings particularly true when trying to solve a complex IT problem that spans mainframe, distributed, and mobile platforms. 

Mainframe programs are increasingly interfacing with distributed systems to support consumer facing web and mobile applications. When a transaction is initiated via a mobile phone, the path it takes from the edge of the Internet and deep into the mainframe and back is highly complex -- and ripe with possibilities for bottlenecks along the way.  Should a problem occur in any one of the platforms along the application delivery chain, teams typically lack true visibility into the offending transaction. An unfamiliar platform can quickly become a “black box,” void of any window into how an application is impacting its performance.  Without visibility into the problem, hard-to-answer questions ultimately lead to unproductive discussions and finger pointing.

The scenario above highlights the need to understand multiple perspectives. The teams’ understanding of “performance overhead,” for example, is based upon their own perspectives. From a mainframe point of view, performance overhead is primarily concerned with CPU utilization. To that end, the mainframe performance team would want insight into how the distributed platforms are driving mainframe workload.  From a distributed perspective, the insight is focused on end-user response time. So, the distributed performance team would want visibility into the mainframe that provided their transaction processing, and its impact on end-user response time.

Both the mainframe and distributed performance teams would benefit from a new generation of application performance management (APM), one that provides end-to-end transaction visibility, from the edge of the Internet, through distributed systems, and its backend processing by CICS and DB2.  A common view of the performance problem allows the distributed and mainframe IT teams to work together more effectively to solve issues.

The end-lesson here is that IT teams need to embrace multiple perspectives from the various platforms their applications depend upon.   Application complexity is increasing as mainframe programs are being interconnected with distributed systems.  Consumer-facing applications are driving additional mainframe workload.  The complexity and business importance of today’s sizeable, cross-platform computing environments is the “new normal” of large enterprises, and it’s here to stay.