IT Management

End-to-end application management and visibility are toward the top of the list for nearly every CIO. Why is this such a pressing problem, and why has IT been unable to solve it?

One major challenge is achieving end-to-end visibility of an application that provides a single point of control and a unified view of the application, regardless of the tools that IT staff employ to check or resolve application performance. The need—and the potential—for complete application visibility is even more keenly felt with the introduction of zEnterprise-class computing, which provides firmware-level integration across the IBM Systems p, x (x86), and z platforms through the IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager (zManager).

zManager makes significant progress in addressing IT pain points that include the need for:

  • Application visibility across platforms in IT infrastructures that are highly heterogeneous
  • A unified view of an application, regardless of who is tuning or troubleshooting it
  • Effective, cross-team communications during times of application troubleshooting and problem resolution
  • Performance optimization in the context of an entire, end-to-end transaction or process
  • Meaningful production testing and feedback on the application for application development
  • The ability to forecast capacity planning and predict when capacity limits will impact service delivery
  • Monitoring system components and investments back to the business
  • Tracking cost and Return on Investment (ROI).

Unfortunately, zManager alone can’t fulfill the quest for end-to-end application visibility in highly complex application environments. Instead, there’s a need for higher-level systems management software that can take advantage of the integration and Quality of Service (QoS) improvements that zManager delivers, leveraging these advantages into the higher levels of application abstraction needed to effectively manage transactions and applications end to end.

Evolution of the Visibility Problem

Over the past decade, companies have both virtualized and maintained physical computing assets in various architectures. Application development advances have enabled sites to acquire and develop applications that readily cross platform, network, and software boundaries on the way to delivering value to the business. These advances have made it easier for organizations to develop, modernize, and deploy applications, but they’ve also created a new set of business, operational, and cost challenges in end-to-end management of heterogeneous applications.

“Application visibility isn’t what it used to be,” says John McKenny, vice president of Worldwide Marketing at BMC Software. “Thirty years ago, it was easy to manage both visibility and application response time. All you needed to do was ask a CICS or IMS programmer to generate statistics for transactions, and the 3270 terminal gave you a direct window into what transaction response time was like from the standpoint of the end-user experience. There just weren’t a lot of ‘moving parts.’ Today, you’d be hard pressed to find IT folks who could tell you what the end-to-end flow of an application is. Once a customer clicks on an item in a Web browser, you can’t be sure what happens next. The transaction goes to a Web server and then might be routed to Oracle, middleware, DB2, IMS, or CICS. With the addition of many application components such as Web services, it’s usually even more complex than that.”

McKenny says applications are complex because there are many applications in a single organization and just as many different application architectures.

“Traditional tools for solving application problems are more silo-oriented, yet the need exists to consolidate information everywhere, whether it’s on the network, the front-end, or on the back-end of an application’s workflow,” he says. “An example is in insurance, where an application that supports policies has a significantly different architecture than one that processes claims. This means the tools and approaches to problem-solving will be different.”

Managing Applications in a Complex Environment

zManager is an exciting step forward in managing for complexity because it provides firmware-level integration and expanded compiler instruction sets that further integrate Systems z, p, and x resources in the “footprint” of a zEnterprise box. This provides a single point of management for cross-platform systems in IBM’s product lines and also a unified view of how these resources are performing.

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