By the end of 2014, nearly three billion people will have access to the Web. With 40 percent of the world accessing the Web, the way we receive and share information, interact with each other and in particular, how we conduct business has been completely revolutionized. Enter the Web app.
Evolving Web, Evolving application development
The Web is in a constant state of evolution, and that involves more than just infrastructure. How, when and where we use the Web are also in a state of continuous change. And with the proliferation of cloud computing, IT convergence, BYO-everything and the digital transformation of business, there has been widespread adoption of Web applications for mission critical business functions, from document storage and collaboration to customer experience and relationship management.
Not only are these emerging trends driving mass adoption of Web-based applications, but they’re dramatically changing the way Web applications are developed and managed today. For example, Web developers are moving away from traditional application languages such as Java and .NET, and they’re leveraging other, more elegant languages like Ruby and PhP, which confer flexibility and availability through open source and cloud computing.
Cloud and mobile are changing business applications
Also, the proliferation of cloud technology has made Web development simpler and accessible, leading to businesses adopting software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications that help offload the management of applications such as CRM. Because companies can more rapidly assess applications via SaaS, they are also able to more quickly integrate functionality from said applications into their composite application.
Traditionally, business applications have only been available to end users on-premises. Today, however, SaaS applications allow end users to access applications through any computing device at any time via the Internet. The accessibility of SaaS applications has made them an attractive option for business end users.
Similar to the cloud and SaaS, mobile devices are disrupting the business landscape today as end users are becoming increasingly dependent on their devices to work. Mobile devices are ubiquitous, and with business end users constantly on the move—whether they’re working from home, traveling or stuck in traffic—the expectation is that they can use their mobile devices for everything from productivity to communication.
Managing Web applications
Applications—whether mobile, Web-based or SaaS—are here to stay, and will continue to evolve, impacting the way businesses work now and in the future. Monitoring the performance of these applications is essential to business productivity and the end user experience. In fact, a recent SolarWinds survey shed light on how business end users view application performance and availability. Nearly all respondents (93 percent) said application performance and availability affect their ability to do their job, with 62 percent saying it is absolutely critical. The survey also found end users expect a quick resolution to application performance issues from IT, down to just minutes in some cases.
Like all applications, Web applications are actually much more than just the applications themselves; they involve databases, servers and more. Therefore, when an end user reports a Web application is slow, there are a number of factors that may impact why the application isn’t performing properly.
Without a holistic view into how these various components fit together and the performance of each layer, it can be very time consuming to isolate the root cause of the performance issue. Often, IT will simply monitor the server’s performance, but won’t look at database or site performance. So, if the performance issue stems from the site performance, IT is left scratching their heads trying to figure out how to troubleshoot the problem.
Another key characteristic of the Web application of today is that it is very data driven, and collecting and accessing data quickly is critical. Therefore, database queries become a critical process, impacting the performance of the database itself.
More complexity, more problems
When it comes to mobile and SaaS applications, additional considerations need taken into account, which can add to the complexity of performance management.
For example, when it comes to mobile applications, in addition to monitoring the application stack—the servers, databases and other infrastructure that all support the application—for performance issues, it’s also important to consider which mobile devices are the most problem-prone and which devices are using the application the most, all while also monitoring the carrier’s performance.
On the other hand, SaaS applications require a different approach to monitoring. Since end users will likely spend an extensive amount of time with the application, it’s important to monitor overall user experience and users’ interactions with the application. This in turn will enable analysis of performance from the end user’s perspective, so when drilling into an issue it can be determined if the problem is related to a specific page and location.
In summary, the rapid pace of technology change is impacting the performance of Web applications that have become critical to business. To manage the Web applications of today and prepare for the Web applications of the future, it’s important to understand that serving the application means serving the business and enhancing the end user’s experience.