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What's in a Name?

With my focus on Application Performance Management (APM), I have a keen interest in getting to the "devil in the details." I always like to get the vendor to explain to me just what an application is and what they do to manage its performance.

When you look at and actually analyze what an application is, for many vendors of APM solutions, there are similar stories but not much consistency. Depending upon whom you talk to and the specific nature of their solutions, it could break down into different structures, ranging from Web to client/server and thin client to different product types such as Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) and IBM Corp.s (NYSE: IBM) WebSphere. Then there are the many different application types to be considered, ranging from Enterprise Resource Planning to Customer Relationship Management. Finally, the application could cover any number of protocols, ranging from HTTP to FTP, and ports, such as 80, 443, 1,214.

However, within an organization, an application is rarely, if ever, broken down into a single specific category. Therefore, a whole lot of work has to go into building associations between the business context of an application and its technical foundations. When you ask the vendors about this, they all say, “Well it’s real easy to fill it in,” or ”We have a wizard for that”… And so forth and so on.

This gets especially interesting for an organization that is attempting to orchestrate various performance management products – either from an information or control perspective. The information obtained from one system and the information from another might be describing the same thing, but you’d never know it when you look at the screen or report.

As I discussed in my last column, Knobs & Gauges, the introduction of a technique called Application Infrastructure Management is helping IT organizations understand the links among their disparate technology resources. With that in place, there is a clear need to develop a more business-oriented view of how those resources relate to each other, as well as to understand them at the transaction level.

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