Last time, I mentioned a recent report called \u201cWhy Performance Management Matters\u201d distributed by Ashton, Metzler & Associates and published by IT Business Media. In the study, Jim Metzler, co-founder of the research firm, detailed why network managers need to demonstrate the connection between business applications and the infrastructure supporting them.It\u2019s the IT staff\u2019s responsibility to demonstrate how their department makes the others run better.\u201cIn order for an IT organization to show value to business unit managers they must implement a more unified approach to performance management,\u201d Metzler writes.To start, IT managers have to gather management data from multiple sources on a wide range of traffic types and applications. The data then should be used for distributed service reporting and management. Next, IT managers need to eliminate the stovepipes (network, server, storage, applications, etc.) and have all the relevant management tools access a unified data repository.Collected data usually will fall into one of three classes, Metzler says: elementary management data from network devices such as routers and switches; more advanced data from industry-standard probes, or from switches and routers that support functionality such as NetFlow (a Cisco data export protocol); and the most advanced class of data, from probes designed to capture performance information from a wide range of well-known, custom and Web-based applications.The first class of data provides data link layer visibility across an entire enterprise network and captures parameters on packets and link utilization. The second class can be used to identify which network users or applications are consuming bandwidth and to what degree. The most advanced class of data can be used to measure the end-to-end performance and report on the response times of critical business applications.Because network managers need all the data to optimize their infrastructure to support applications and ultimately business services, Metlzer says a unified industry standard that incorporates all of the data is needed.\u201cWe need an industry solution that provides the ability to easily capture all three classes of management data in a common format, and which allows a wide variety of performance management tools access to this data,\u201d Metlzer says.Metzler concludes that distributed performance management is a prerequisite to delivering optimized IT services.