VMware continues to effectively position vSphere as the virtualization platform that has the features, performance and scalability required successfully virtualize tier 1 line of business applications like SAP, Oracle EBS, Oracle Siebel and the Microsoft suite of business applications. However, in many enterprises these applications are owned and supported by dedicated applications teams (and in the case of SAP – often times a “center of excellence”), that have historically had a great deal of influence and control of the capacity and the characteristics of the environment that these applications run in.

While IT Operations is in general eager to virtualize these applications in order to deliver more hard dollar ROI from server consolidation, and more operational savings through agile management – these applications teams often resist the virtualization of “their” applications. The teams that support these applications are rightly asking some tough questions:

  1. Today with our application deployed on physical hardware, if we see a performance problem or a capacity problem, we can easily add more hardware. Once the application is virtualized we will no longer be able to do that. How are you (IT Operations) going to ensure us that sufficient resources exist in your shared environment in order for our application to continue to perform well as we make changes and expand the user base for the application?
  2. If we virtualize our application, and we perceive a degradation in response times delivered to our end users, how can you assure us (and prove to us) that the problem is not in your virtualized infrastructure.
  3. Most importantly, if we agree to virtualize our application, how can you guarantee us that the performance (response times) of our key transactions are not going to degrade?

Of the questions above, #3 is the question that has to get resolved in order for the deadlock between the applications team and the IT Operations team to get resolved. There has to be some mechanism to measure the response times of the key transactions within the application before the application is virtualized, and then to continue to measure them as various layers of the application are progressively moved from physical to virtual servers. Furthermore, it is highly desirable that this measurement system not be affected by the virtualization process itself – in other words, it should remain a constant so that its data can be consistently compared across the physical and virtual implementations of the applications system.

Knoa_APM_Dashboard

The news is that Knoa Software has just announced a product that is designed specifically to address the issues highlighted above.  The unique aspect of Knoa’s product is that it is based upon an agent that you install on the end user’s PC. This is not your garden variety agent. The Knoa agent, is combined with a template that is very specific to each application and that actually understands each transaction inside of the application. So the Knoa agent is able to collect very granular response time data on a per transaction, per user, and per application basis. The fact that this is done from the perspective of the end user’s PC, means that as the back end server tiers get progressively virtualized, the measurement point is unaffected by this process – ensuring that before and after data represent a realistic and unbiased comparison.

The full Knoa announcment is below:

Knoa® Software, the leading provider of end-user experience and performance management software, today announced the availability Knoa Virtual/Cloud Experience Manager (VCEM). Knoa VCEM is the first truly ‘off-the-shelf’ product that monitors and manages real end-user experience for enterprise applications that are running in virtualized environments, delivered via SaaS, or provisioned via Cloud Computing.

All of these non-traditional delivery models represent a significant disruption in the provisioning model for the infrastructure on which applications run. In many cases, the benefits of increased agility, reduced costs and sustainability are lost as the new provisioning paradigms introduce business risk. According to J.P Garbani, vice president, Forrester Research, “Most enterprises seem to have taken a very cautious attitude toward “virtualizating” their critical applications. Virtualization poses a new series of management problems that require resolution within the existing framework of IT management. When a satisfactory answer is provided, the economic value of the technology will become clearer and have a significant impact on enterprise critical applications.”

Knoa’s flagship product, Experience and Performance Management(EPM)has been widely recognized as the industry’s most innovative end-user experience monitoring solution, in part, because it is the only end-user monitoring product that simultaneously meets the user performance needs of the business and the end-user experience needs of the IT organization.

Knoa VCEM extends this concept to the worlds of SaaS, Virtualization and Cloud computing with a streamlined, turnkey application designed specifically to support the management needs of the IT Operations team changing the provisioning model for business critical applications like SAP, Oracle EBS, Oracle Seibel and Microsoft.

“IT organizations are under tremendous pressure to continue to deliver the hard dollar ROI and operational agility benefits that come from virtualizing servers. Most large enterprises have virtualized their “low hanging fruit” and must now turn to business critical “tier 1” applications to deliver the next rounds of these benefits to their organizations,” said Bernd Harzog, Analyst – Virtualization Performance and Capacity Management, The Virtualization Practice. “However, many IT operations teams are finding resistance from applications owners due to perceived uncertainty on the part of the applications owners as to how their application will perform on a shared virtual infrastructure.”

Knoa VCEM is designed to mitigate the inherent risk to business continuity that any disruption to the back-end infrastructure raises, especially with the following capabilities

  • Dynamic Benchmarking, which enables the IT organization to compare system performance prior to the change with system performance before and after each wave of infrastructure transition. Dynamic Benchmarking is available for all system performance metrics including transaction response times, system errors and utilization.
  • Comprehensive Threshold alerting, which allows IT organizations to create and manage alerts based upon established Service Level Agreements. Alerts can be delivered via email or integrated into existing performance management consoles to provide the IT team with a “single pane of glass” for performance management.
  • Dynamic Base-lining, which allows IT organization to monitor when any performance metric (response time, quality or utilization) varies from short or long-term trends. Dynamic base-lining directly attacks the difficult issue of ensuring no performance degradation for the thousands of transactions for which meaningful SLA thresholds have not been set.
  • Advanced Root Cause Analysis, which allows the IT Operations team to evaluation the impact of end-user behavior and desktop resources and conditions on any performance anomaly.

“Knoa provides the only application monitoring solution that measures what the users actually care about, the response time of the transactions within the application, from the perspective of the actual end user workstations,” continued Harzog. “This allows IT Operations to provide a proven baseline of end-user experience to the applications teams before the application is virtualized, and then allow for continuous comparative measurements against that baseline as progressive layers of the application system are placed in the shared virtual infrastructure.”

Knoa VCEM leverages Knoa’s Universal Client Agent, a passive desktop agent, to capture its performance metrics. “With current trends in application methodologies (SOA, RIA) and infrastructure options (cloud computing, virtualization, SaaS), it’s become increasingly clear that the only relevant measurement point for any and all performance metrics is the end user’s desktop. You simply can’t do it from anywhere else, period,” said Lori Wizdo, vice president, Marketing, Knoa Software. “End-user monitoring provides one version of the truth so IT teams can identify real problems in real-time and can completely eliminate the impact of user perceptions about application performance. The end-result is a seamless transition to the back-end operational model that offers the enterprise increased agility, reduced costs and sustainability.”

About Knoa

Knoa Software is leading the performance management industry with end-user experience management solutions that reach beyond infrastructure and application performance to monitor, measure and manage how end-users are utilizing corporate software applications to optimize business process execution. Knoa customers not only know if core enterprise applications are delivering an acceptable user experience, but also, if application users are executing key processes effectively and efficiently – the key to achieving business value and ROI. Knoa was recently selected as a Gartner “Cool Vendor,” for its capabilities in end-user experience and performance management and was listed as a Leader in the “Forrester Wave: Passive Agent End-user Experience Monitoring.” Knoa is headquartered in New York, NY. For more information about Knoa, please visit www.knoa.com.

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Bernd Harzog (335 Posts)

Bernd Harzog is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Performance and Capacity Management and IT as a Service (Private Cloud).

Bernd is also the CEO and founder of APM Experts a company that provides strategic marketing services to vendors in the virtualization performance management, and application performance management markets.

Prior to these two companies, Bernd was the CEO of RTO Software, the VP Products at Netuitive, a General Manager at Xcellenet, and Research Director for Systems Software at Gartner Group. Bernd has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Chicago.

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