IBM SmartCloud Targets the Mid-Market:
APM for VMware

Cloud environments need application management as dynamic and intelligent as they are

Tivoli Beat. A weekly IBM service management perspective.

As IT moves forward into new business domains and architectures, IBM application performance management is moving right along with it—and these days, that means venturing into clouds.

Cloud architectures, by design, are incredibly dynamic; this means application monitoring and management must be as well. As new virtual servers are created, new instances of applications are created with them, and as overall application performance scales—sometimes in very short order—management solutions must be sophisticated enough to adapt in parallel.

That's why last year, IBM Tivoli launched IBM SmartCloud Application Performance Management. Thanks to the five different classes of insight it provides, this solution can help organizations effectively detect, trace, isolate, resolve, and even predict the causes of application performance issues in cloud environments. In fact, it can accomplish that whether the cloud operates via a public, private, or hybrid model—or even if the infrastructure is not yet a cloud at all.

For small or mid-market growing organizations, however, such a complete range of features isn't always essential—and the IT budget may not be available for an enterprise-class solution.

Yet the basic business need for application performance management remains. It's still critical to be able to track actual application performance against targets, isolate problems when they occur to root causes, and resolve those causes as swiftly as possible.

IBM now offers a lightweight, easy-to-deploy application management solution for mid-market organizations running VMware environments

Application Performance Management Entry Edition - VM Image automatically discovers logical elements of the collective environment, including virtual servers, operating systems running within them, databases, applications, and Internet services.

That's why in 2013, IBM is introducing a solution aimed specifically at meeting those needs: IBM SmartCloud Application Performance Management Entry Edition - VM Image.

This offering combines a broad range of features and benefits designed to help mid-market organizations get superior value from VMware-based environments by keeping overall application availability high, while also requiring relatively little effort to deploy or configure.

In fact, because it’s an appliance, the solution can integrate with the existing infrastructure almost immediately—and once deployed, it requires very little management of its own. Yet the insight it provides is comprehensive, spans different business and technical domains, and even extends to future problems via smart analytics and capacity planning.

Effortless deployment, yet surprisingly sophisticated capabilities

Essentially, Application Performance Management Entry Edition - VM Image is a turnkey bundle based on predefined virtual images that support established best practices in application monitoring and management.

If that sounds complex, it's not; once deployed, the offering automatically handles its own configuration. It integrates with the VMware environment, seeking out all the information required to understand how, and where, applications have been deployed—then combine and deliver that information to application managers in a clear and intuitive way.

Specifically, Application Performance Management Entry Edition - VM Image automatically discovers logical elements of the collective environment, including virtual servers, operating systems running within them, databases, applications, and Internet services. It then integrates this information so as to reflect how well applications are executing against target goals.

This rapid automatic integration with the VMware environment translates not just into quick time to value, but exceptional convenience, since the solution doesn't require exceptional technical knowledge or experience to use.

Track application performance in the level of technical detail and business context you need—anywhere, any time

Once the environment has been fully discovered, the application monitoring and management functions per se take place via integrated dashboards that give at-a-glance understanding of application performance relative to goals.

These dashboards are Web-based; any browser, running on any Internet device, will serve as a suitable workstation. They're also customizable, so that different job roles and duties can be supported by providing the right information, in the right context, for each case.

Thanks to color-coded performance metrics, it's easy to see how well (or how badly) applications are performing—in very close to real time. It's also easy to visualize just how those applications have been deployed in the VMware environment, should that information be necessary to resolve problems, because applications are correlated to their host virtual systems.

Another useful feature: Application Performance Management Entry Edition - VM Image allows application managers to oversee not just how users are using different applications, but also the physical resources allocated to those applications.

This insight can play a key role in helping resolve performance or technical issues of many kinds. For example, if a particular application is experiencing a performance shortfall, managers can see that easily via the dashboards, then assess what might have caused the shortfall by assessing recent logical changes to the cloud environment for a probable culprit.

Since the solution tracks inventory and changes, that’s relatively quick and easy to do; determining the root cause is much faster than it would be otherwise. The shortfall can be addressed, and the application brought back up to expected performance.

Crystal-ball insight helps you solve problems that haven't yet happened

Beyond that kind of problem-by-problem insight, Application Performance Management Entry Edition - VM Image even provides a prescient look into the future.

That's because, via the included IBM Cognos-based business intelligence reporting, it's relatively simple to spot patterns and trends that might affect application performance down the road, then plan—creating a roadmap that can steer around problems before they have a chance to occur.

Augmenting the business intelligence capabilities: VMware-specific capacity planning, directly on point in determining whether more resources (such as processing power, memory, or storage) will be needed for applications in the foreseeable future, or whether it might instead be possible to achieve the same outcome simply by reallocating/reconfiguring current resources.

You can even use this solution to consider different options in orchestrating and configuring the VMware environment (that is, workload sequencing). What-if workload assessment allows you to create an abstract model of the environment, make different kinds of changes to that model, and thus extrapolate the likely outcome those changes will yield. Through experimentation, it's possible to arrive at a significantly optimized arrangement for any given business or IT purpose. And since that experimentation never happened in the actual VMware environment, the organization is empowered to move directly to the optimized variation. Instead of taking on more risk via changes in workload sequencing, the organization will only get better-performing applications, characterized by higher business value and lower downtime.

And in terms of preparation for the future, one more solution strength is bound to please the CIO and CFO: Application Performance Management Entry Edition - VM Image includes a full year of IBM Software Subscription and Support for free.

That means every new release of this offering that IBM produces in the year after purchase will be free as well, instantly downloadable over the Internet, and deployed into production the same day.

So the overall architecture will always have the most current possible version of its application management solution, and applications will continually yield the highest possible ROI as a result.

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