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The enterprise's transformation from analog to a digitized, software-defined environment raises a host of new challenges for IT from a management perspective. Network management systems, in combination with application performance management tools, may hold the key to overcoming some of these challenges.
Traditional siloed approaches to IT administration are quickly rendered ineffective, as application performance is increasingly linked to end-to-end transactions often conducted across highly virtualized, distributed environments. With minimal tolerance for subpar quality, the pressure is on the IT organization to find new methods to optimize enterprise performance.
IT has a seemingly endless rotation of management tools from which to choose to track, troubleshoot and address performance issues. These products traditionally gauged performance from either the application or network infrastructure vantage point.
While this tactic might have been sufficient for managing a largely physical and logically contained environment, the rise of software-defined networking, network functions virtualization and the cloud requires IT to have a more holistic picture of a highly virtualized application environment.
Simply put, switching back and forth between separate consoles for network and application performance monitoring to isolate and resolve a performance issue isn't going to cut it. As IT personnel work across disciplines to try to get a better handle on application performance, they are pressing vendors to merge the previously discrete infrastructure and application monitoring capabilities to support a better orchestrated environment. An improved set of network management systems are needed.
Over the course of the last several years, both network-centric and application performance management (APM) platforms started to incorporate metrics gathered from their counterpart's discipline. The expectation is this will help IT draw a more accurate performance picture to identify issues, such as inefficient resource utilization or stagnant performance. Having a consolidated application and infrastructure view and using network management systems should also allow IT to more efficiently resolve problems.
On paper, these products can read as very advanced and innovative. However, in a production environment, it can become very apparent that big gaps still exist. Organizations are also frequently left having to cobble together legacy tools, often to a disappointing effect.
Just as IT roles will continue to evolve over time to work across practice areas, network and APM tools will also continue to unify capabilities. This won't happen overnight, but progress with network management systems is very much underway to support more effective IT management for the digital enterprise.