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Wily Technology: Communicating the Benefits of Application Management to Senior Management
Wily Technology: Communicating the Benefits of Application Management to Senior Management

www.wilytech.com

If you are reading this Solutions Guide, you are most likely someone directly involved in developing, designing, or managing online applications. So, for you, the needs for J2EE application management tools may fall into the "preaching to the choir" category. You live with J2EE applications, understand their complexity, and appreciate just how hard a job it is to keep important online applications available and high performing.

You also recognize the need for specialized tools which can monitor your applications 24x7 and give you the visibility inside the application needed to rapidly diagnose problems.

However, to purchase and use these tools you need to secure the budget and approval of senior IT managers. You need to understand and communicate the benefits which will accrue to all of IT and to the line of business as well.

To communicate the need for application management tools, prepare a presentation which covers the following points.
1.  Assess the Need for Management. You probably have many online or shared infrastructure applications which you believe need to be managed. Don't forget major internal and vendor-facing applications. To understand and communicate the scope of the challenge you face, Wily suggests a tool called the Complexity/Criticality Curve (see graph). Plot your applications on this chart. Once completed, this chart illustrates that your team is managing a portfolio of applications of varying criticality and complexity. If applications are complex, your team needs specialized J2EE tools which provide monitoring visibility into all of the components which make up the application. As applications become more critical, your team needs to monitor them 24x7 in production so they do not impact revenue or customer satisfaction. Frankly (and this is heresy from a management software vendor), not all of your applications need to be monitored and managed. There will always be some which are neither critical nor particularly complex. Plan to manage these last. Important note: Several Wily customers have pointed out that applications are not static - they migrate from less complex/less critical to more complex/more critical over time. Why is this? Consider an example. Your team writes a new app and you do a pilot rollout. The pilot is successful, so you do a larger rollout (making it more critical.) Users like the app so much that you add more functionality (thus adding to its complexity.) And so it goes. The point is that plotting your applications on this curve should be done periodically to re-assess the complexity and criticality of the portfolio.

2.  Compute the Risks your Organization Faces. Savvy IT teams know that an application is more than an assemblage of servlets, EJBs, connectors and servers. It is a vital element in the organization's strategy to serve customers, to sell products, to efficiently manage a supply chain, to make employees more productive. When applications fail, they are not just IT's problem. They impact your organizations business goals. A comprehensive application management process, backed up with specialized management tools, will significantly improve availability and performance. The risks your organization faces will be reduced. According to the 2003 Wily Benchmark Survey, average availability was only 88%. Wily customers reported average availability in the range of 96%. Ask the application "owner" to describe to your team the business model they had in mind when funds were budgeted in the first place. Goals may be expressed in revenue, customers served, orders placed per hour, bond trades per day, whatever. Take those goals and express them in terms of risks. For example, if an application was designed to generate revenue, it will be relatively easy to compute the cost of a day's downtime. Repeat this for the other applications in your portfolio. Even internal applications have risks attached to them in terms of inability to serve customers, delays in processing orders, etc. Other risks your organization faces include lost IT productivity, employee attrition, and excess hardware capacity. Wily offers a free set of ROI tools on its website, www.wilytech.com, to assist you in this step.

If you communicate your results to senior IT management, you will have accomplished several things. You will have improved your team's knowledge of your application portfolio. You will markedly improve your credibility within your organization. Finally you will likely achieve the management endorsement you need to find the tools your team needs to end the blame games and regain control of your applications.

www.wilytech.com

About IT Solutions Guide
IT Solutions Guide (ITSG), aimed at development and corporate managers, is a free quarterly supplement focusing on the most competitive tools, solutions, and services available in the IT and infrastructure technology world today.

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