The Problem with Infrastructure Operations Managing Applications


For many organizations, infrastructure operations are responsible for running hardware infrastructure associated with the application platform.  The application manager is in charge of managing the application, which includes functional configurations that support all of the underlying business processes.  Most of the time, the application owners are responsible for user management, security, staying on top of the product roadmaps and how they can use their application to drive business value.  In summary, one group provides the “ping”, “power”, “compute” and the other group ensures the application is functional and provides business value.

Murky Waters

Here is where the delineation of responsibility starts to get murky; the end users productivity is being adversely affected because the application is not performing up to standard.  This can take the form of slow logins, search results being slow or not pull back complete results, uploading or retrieving information that takes forever, timeout errors or reports that take forever to run.  A person can only get coffee so many times in a day while they are waiting for their report to run or the document to finish downloading.  The end user now calls the help desk.  The help desk resource begins their troubleshooting steps.  A vast majority of the time performance is looked at strictly as a CPU, RAM, storage latency, or network connectivity issue.  These are the metrics that network administrators deal with on a daily basis.  How do you determine slow with it being such a subjective term?

Baseline Environment

For many situations the performance issue isn’t hardware related, it is related to proper application and database maintenance that hasn’t been performed.  There is value in establishing a baseline of your environment so that you can quantify subjective terms such as “slow”.  This helps determine an end users “slow” vs. another end users “normal” application performance.  Second, maintenance for both the application and database needs to be performed on an on-going basis so minimize the software bloat syndrome.  (I am sure that everyone can relate to the fastest their computer ever worked is the first day that you use it.)  Last, of all, it is important to have monitoring capability to help you ascertain where the bottleneck in performance is originating.  This helps cut down on the “pass-the-trouble-ticket” like a hot potato around the help desk and involving database administrators, infrastructure ops and the application vendor to get the issue resolved.

Infrastructure Operations Conclusion

In my experience, the vast majority of network administrators are not trained to perform this level of maintenance in the application environment.  Most application owners do not have the technical expertise to execute maintenance routines, use application monitoring tools, or interpret the results.  Your options are to either have the application owners or the technical staff receive training on how to execute the maintenance routines, then determine what will be measured, how often it will be measured, and a 360-degree communication plan.  Alternatively, your other option is to hire a service to manage the maintenance function end to end.


Next Steps

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