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WHILE much effort is being put into ensuring that the data centre and its associated infrastructure run efficiently, enterprises are unknowingly facing gaps in managing IT, especially at the service management level, according to Compuware Corporation.
The Detroit, Michigan-based application performance management software player contends that today’s enterprises are too focused on managing the challenges within the data centre, without giving regard to arguably the most important part of the service – customer satisfaction of an application’s performance.
“There are discrepancies between what is being measured at the data centre level with its promise of 99.999% availability versus what users may be experiencing in their access to their applications in real life,” said Koh Eng Kiong (pic), Asean regional director at Compuware.
“When I speak to CIOs (chief information officers), what I find out is that many of them say they spend a lot of time managing their data centres with a huge team, ensuring all the applications and databases are up and running.
“But they really have no clue as to whether their customers are having pleasant experiences interacting with the application or not, and will often leave it to users to tell them if they’re good or not.”
Koh said this challenge stems from the fact that the typical CIO has spent too much time managing the data centre without optimising the application’s performance management. This leads organisations to focus too much on the back-end, leaving the front-end to languish without proper monitoring.
He said Compuware is getting feedback that big organisations cannot answer fundamental questions such as who are accessing their websites, what kind of devices they are using to do so, when they log in, and how long it takes to access the services they want to get to.
“For example, when a person goes to a government portal to check summonses or an online banking portal to access their accounts – do they get through or do they get an error? Organisations may not know this but there may be anywhere between 200 to 2,000 people who can’t get through [at a given time].
“Far too often, when the users experience problems, an enterprise IT department will only react to examine their log files and take some time to find out the problems,” Koh said. “Meanwhile, users are getting frustrated with their bad experiences.”
Real dollar losses
According to Jerry Tan, Asean marketing manager for Compuware, the frustrations faced by end-users aren’t just technical in nature, but such experiences can cause hefty losses in terms of business, especially with e-commerce websites.
Citing an Aberdeen Research Group study commissioned by Compuware, Tan (pic) noted that every one-second delay in webpage response time decreased conversion by up to 7%.
“In terms of end-user experience, what we see is that for every 100 persons interacting with an e-commerce site, a one-second delay in the website can cause up to seven people to drop out of a transaction.
Tan said the report commissioned also noted that the average availability of the website studied stands at 97.8%.
“So if you think that 98% is a good availability figure, think again. When it comes to absolute revenue, a website generating US$100,000 per day, based on 98% availability, will [suffer] about a US$760,000 revenue loss and about eight days of outage a year.”
Addtionally, Tan said that based on Compuware’s experience, only 3% to 5% of users actively complain to the organisation concerned, leaving over 90% who do not.
“But in today’s world, they will likely do so on social media and if these complaints go viral, the damage to the organisation will be immeasurable,” he said.
Koh said compounding this challenge is the fact that IT is normally measured in terms of percentage availability but this means nothing to the business user.
“When it comes to applications, why are we tolerating more than 5-second delays? In telephony, we’ve come to expect high quality of service and non-delays, and similarly, we need the same kind of quality of service when interacting with web services.”
Asked what can be done, Koh pointed out that the only way to address these challenges is to be able to track in real time what users are clicking on, monitor when and why these transactions have failed, find out the root causes as to why they’ve failed, and how many users are impacted.
He claimed the solutions offered by Compuware have helped a number of local organisations enhance their application performance management. These include Maybank, RHB Bank and the Employees Provident Fund.
Koh said that in Maybank’s case, the largest bank in Malaysia wanted to proactively monitor real-user traffic. It also needed to be able to trace and analyse transactions and to isolate the issues as experienced by end-users for faster problem resolution time.
Using one of Compuware’s solutions, Maybank’s application team could integrate data from existing third-party component monitoring tools to provide high-level information, such as capacity and availability. The result of this implementation sped up its time-to-resolution by 50%, the bank claimed.
“Compuware helps enterprises monitor the service level from a user perspective; every user, every click, what kind of response time, and what kind of availability there is,” he claimed. “If there are issues, we can detect where the problems are and investigate the root causes in a proactive way, rather than in a reactive way.”
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