The IT management industry has been highly fragmented with great point products to monitor pieces of infrastructure. There are network management tools, application performance systems and a wealth of other products available to IT buyers.
The problem with this model is the point products provide an incomplete view of what and end user might be experiencing. This leads to what I’ve referred to as “swivel chair management” where an engineer plunks himself down in the middle of several management consoles, watches all the activity and tries to correlate the data manually to understand when problems occur. This is difficult, if not impossible, to do because there is simply too much data to try to analyze manually.
A proof point for these struggles: ZK Research studies have found that 75 percent of application problems are reported by the end user, not the IT department. Consider the significance of that data point—companies spend billions on management software, yet users find the problems three quarters of the time.
It’s important to understand the real problem isn’t outages; its performance. Businesses build their infrastructure today to be highly resilient, so one could flick off a router, switch or server and no one would notice because everything is built with redundancy in mind. The real challenge is finding performance problems. With performance issues, the dashboard can show every element is “green,” yet users call because things aren’t working.
Another interesting factoid from ZK Research is that workers say poor application performance reduces their productivity by 14 percent annually. Businesses spend billions of dollars on new IT projects to boost productivity, but if they could just make the apps they have work better, that could lead to a double-digit improvement.
Solving this problem is becoming more important in the digital era where customer experience will replace brand as the #1 differentiator for companies. In fact, almost 70 percent of consumers have changed providers at least once based on poor customer experience. In the mobile-first digital era, the application experience will ultimately decide how customers view companies, and a slow, inconsistent experience will cause them to go elsewhere.
Aternity fills the gap in Riverbed portfolio
One vendor that has taken an integrated approach to end-to-end infrastructure management is Riverbed. Its SteelCentral management suite provides a unified view of performance by monitoring the network, compute infrastructure and applications. The one missing piece of the puzzle was that SteelCentral does not have a true view of end-user devices.
This morning, Riverbed acquired Massachusetts-based Aternity to fill that gap. Aternity uses software agents to collect data directly from end-user devices. The agents monitor every application on any type of device, including physical endpoints, virtual desktops and mobile devices. The agents provide rich telemetry information, including device and application health, user behavior information and wait times.
The solution also provides an understanding of who the user is by providing the name, role, office location and the business activities they are responsible for, so IT can prioritize the CFO’s financial system performance problems over another problem, for example. It’s important to note that Aternity doesn’t just present data—it analyzes user interactions in the context of business processes.
The data and insights that Aternity provides become increasingly more important as businesses look to leverage public, private and hybrid clouds to run the business. In a cloud-first world, data and applications spread across multiple data centers and public clouds, so the ability to monitor the end user directly can provide a single view of the distributed environment.
Aternity is great complement to the existing SteelCentral suite. SteelCentral AppResponse provides network-based end-user monitoring, SteelCentral AppInternals uses browser-based data, and now SteelCentral Aternity will gather telemetry directly through the lens of the end user. The combination of these three will be rolled up, correlated, analyzed and presented in the SteelCentral Portal.
Understanding the end-user experience is paramount in today’s highly competitive, digital world. With the addition of Aternity, Riverbed can gather data from many sources, including the LAN, WAN, UC systems, application code, app servers, browsers and end-user devices, enabling its customers to quickly find sources of performance problems and fix them before they impact the business.
The acquisition of Aternity is expected to close in August 2016. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed