Industry watchers debate performance measurement

* Application performance optimization debated at Interop

At Interop last week, a popular subject dominated analyst discussions. With its tracks on application networking and performance optimization, the show covered the area of application performance optimization on local- and wide-area nets. (Click here for all the Interop headlines.)

At one panel entitled "One size fits all: Is there a universal metric for success?", industry analysts shared with attendees their thoughts and best practice approaches to how to determine and then report on application performance from an end-user perspective.

Dennis Drogseth, a vice president with Enterprise Management Associates, Peter Sevcik, president at NetForecast and Eric Siegel, a senior analyst with the Burton Group debated the issue under the moderation of Alistair Croll, vice president of product management at Coradiant, which sells products to monitor real-time sessions for data center applications. (The vendor announced at the show a new appliance for small and midsize businesses priced below $20,000.)

During this discussion, the analysts tried to narrow down approaches to measuring application performance.

Siegel suggested coupling "weighting," meaning applying a measure of priority or performance to specific applications based on their relationship to the business, with statistics to determine when problems could arise, before an end-user calls the helpdesk.

"You want to get in place an early predictor to potential application performance problems," he said.

Drogseth warned attendees to never hope to get application performance measurement down to one single metric, but rather a series of numbers.

"The first question people have to ask is what do I want to measure and be accurate in that description," Drogseth said. "You need to deploy a single methodology so that the accuracy of the method remains consistent."

Sevcik touted the benefits of its Apdex Alliance organization, which was launched at last year's Interop and works toward developing a standard measurement for application performance from the end-user perspective. The group's Application Performance Index provides a scale with which to measure performance, Sevcik says.

"Apdex does not propose that any organization can get performance metrics down to a single number because different dimensions need to be taken into account," Sevcik said. "But it can offer an approach to achieving a scale against with to measure quality."

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