The End-to-End Challenge

The term generates more questions than it answers:

? What does end-to-end really mean?

? Which part of end-to-end don’t we understand?

? Does any single product solve this puzzle?

? We bought an end-to-end product—why can’t we manage our applications?

A Multi-Dimensional Solution

Effective application management requires visibility to the application forest as well as the infrastructure trees. This requires depth of knowledge that encompasses both infrastructure and application performance. When IT relies primarily on people and their expertise for this knowledge, it comes as a result of cross-functional efforts among multiple technology teams. This is one reason why IT organizations have heavily invested in business process optimization projects, built around the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) or other best practice disciplines—and also a reason why IT administration costs continue to spiral upwards.

From the tools perspective, this depth of knowledge comes from building high levels of cross-functional expertise into automation. Long term, this is the most efficient and cost-effective way to manage increasing levels of application complexity. Short-term, some vendors, as well as some IT organizations, are having trouble making this transition.

EMA has worked with multiple IT organizations feeling the pain of the end-to-end challenge. With this in mind, EMA analysts specializing in application management, network management, and configuration management have collaborated to develop a cross-functional “End-to-End Application Management” model.

The model describes the vantage points and product categories necessary to analyze application execution in a way that provides a true end-to-end perspective. Combined, these vantage points yield the multi-dimensional application intelligence required to manage the broad spectrum of applications that execute in the enterprise today, in context with the infrastructure that supports them.

That being said, there is a world of difference between managing legacy applications running primarily on the mainframe, and managing SOA transactions executing both within and outside the enterprise firewall. While simpler applications might not require products from all five categories (see below), very complex application deployments very likely will. The model is designed to address this broad spectrum, with the expectation that most IT organizations are supporting multiple types of applications, and require the ability to manage all of them. It also assumes that, for the present at least, building this big picture will likely require multiple, interoperable solutions.

EMA’s Approach

The model defines a taxonomy of product categories, each of which contributes its own unique perspective to the management fabric. For example, element managers are still important for monitoring and gathering platform-specific health metrics. However such “vertical” components are of minimal value without context to the applications they support. Likewise, products that provide a transaction-focused perspective are of limited value without visibility to the infrastructure elements underlying the transaction. At its most granular, the model is designed to expose these relationships in an automated fashion.