APM: The CIO’s best friend for remote work… and beyond?

APM: The CIO’s best friend for remote work… and beyond? - SolarWinds

One thing is clear as we continue through the fluctuation of lockdown measures around the pandemic: 86% of Australians express a keen interest to continue working from home.

Yet, while employers are becoming more open to the idea of flexible work, they must ensure their application infrastructure remains robust and secure enough to meet the needs of remote workers.

To flourish in this new reality, innovative companies increasingly turn to digital tools like application performance management (APM) to ensure round-the-clock uptime of mission-critical applications, tools, and services for their workforce wherever they are.

Throughout the pandemic, APM has proved invaluable to IT’s efforts to extend visibility and remotely track, trace, and rectify user application issues on-premises, cloud, SaaS, and at the edge.

Now, as the mandate for flexible, remote work grows, it’s likely to remain an essential tool in the CIO’s trajectory, especially for businesses wanting to keep productivity high and profitability up.

Its flexibility is also proving helpful to protect organizations’ future competitiveness.

Making remote work a distinct possibility

Today’s IT teams have little problem diagnosing and troubleshooting application issues on their carefully mapped business network.

The novelty of some remote issues, however, can cause tricky and time-consuming hiccups. User location, connectivity, device security, intermediate service provider issues—these are just a few external factors complicating troubleshooting from the business core.

APM flips that on its head, trading inside-out monitoring for outside-in visibility.

It works to collect application data and user states from the user endpoint all the way through the back-end application and infrastructure and centralising it for monitoring and analysis.

This gives IT teams the data they need and a common monitoring and troubleshooting view to decisively rectify the issue. APM can also help offload log and event data aggregation and analysis, finding the root cause of anomalies more quickly.

But the real value of APM is its ability to streamline management and performance of application stacks.

Forward-thinking IT teams have begun consolidating applications into clouds or even virtual containers as their application strategy; such moves simplifies monitoring and significantly reduces resource and financial costs.

Others have combined APM with DevOps methodology, using real-time data to debug applications and inform further development and design efforts for a better end-user experience. The result?

Better performance for remote users, more seamless and predictable customer experiences, and insightful data to accurately inform future digital efforts.

Getting APM off the ground

So why haven’t most businesses implemented an APM strategy yet? The fact is, up until relatively recently, APM could be a niche, complex, or expensive solution. Also, IT teams still had the advantage of diagnosing application problems on-site with root access to all elements.

But with employees now dispersed geographically, and dependent on local networks outside of IT’s control, the need for the edge-monitoring capabilities of APM is more salient than ever.

With these points in mind, one way for CIOs to kickstart the implementation of APM is with investment in training and hands-on experimentation with selected modern app stacks or ecosystems.

This would provide the business with tangible results that could build the case—and interest—for APM. Plus, the current trend toward remote work gives businesses a decent testbed for vendor APM solutions, allowing them to pick an intuitive solution aligned to their needs.

The CIO would do well to choose vendors offering highly modular and integrated solutions with flexible licensing policies and customer support. This would allow them to adapt their APM solutions with the ever-changing times.

Squeezing greater value from application data

IT teams may also take this opportunity to re-examine APM’s place within their digital stack and hybrid infrastructure.

Focus should be put into the value it can bring toward extending existing monitoring, data analysis, and event log protocols to supplement established processes.

Determine measurable metrics and actions, in relation to the monitoring of app ecosystems in the cloud or virtual containers. Discuss how the obtained data could help facilitate future DevOps efforts to improve the performance and resilience of business apps and services.

It would also be advantageous for CIOs to examine where modern APM’s predictive troubleshooting capabilities might help restore more pragmatic operations. It’s easy to have pivoted back to responsive posture in the need to address short-term critical business needs.

The other reason is as application stacks grow, it becomes harder or impossible to track the paths service requests may take using conventional infrastructure monitoring alone.

Consequently, back-tracing the source of app or network performance issues may be the only way to truly understand your applications’ real-world performance. The specific app data drawn from APM, allows developers and operations to proactively address issues before they cascade.

More than just keeping workers and customers happy, it helps power agile app development and reliably deliver improved levels of service for applications.

For now, the trend toward more flexible and remote work provides businesses with the opportunity to test run the viability of APM.

But strategic-minded CIOs would already be thinking ahead to how insightful application data may advance the customer experience and business profitability.

How businesses act in these post-pandemic months and years will set their future trajectory in uncertain times. A little investment in APM can help organizations add tools and data they need to make informed moves at just the right time.

Patrick Hubbard is the Principal, Head Geek, and Tech Marketing Director at SolarWinds.

APM: The CIO’s best friend for remote work… and beyond? - SolarWinds