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Revisiting Performance Management – What’s Changed?

By on September 15th, 2020


Nearly one year ago, Gartner updated and revised an earlier paper on performance management. Sanjit Ganguli of Gartner at the time updated and defined a five-layer model for performance management within the IT and applications sphere. So what have we learned? What has changed in the space of a year?

Enterprise Context Bridges Technical and Business Perspectives

Businesses commonly rely upon a number of point tools for supporting the performance management and functions necessary for operations to ensure the business is healthy. Without linkages, timing, flow, and context they are just dials on a wall and are all too often trailing indicators. Not only is knowledge siloed, but it can also be stale based on reporting windows.

All too often service level management at the IT level is not linked or correlated with Business Performance Operations. Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Summit (BTOES) and Technology & Business Management (TBM) Council are two organizations that are providing clear paths and methodologies to bring these together in true enterprise architecture.

Yet, many IT & Operations (I&O) leaders struggle with monitoring dashboards that lack visibility across multiple domains. These interfaces can be challenging to use and forgo the ability to easily navigate across various workflows for triage and remediation. Finding a platform that can integrate information into a single point of control is a common challenge decision-makers face.

Goals of Performance Monitoring Dashboards

Ideally, performance monitoring dashboards should combine datasets and tools into a comprehensive view of business-critical services. In addition, they should provide oversight of the various underlying applications and infrastructure throughout an organization. Many groups continue to rely upon individual dashboards designed specifically for domain-specific tools.

According to Gartner, performance monitoring dashboards should strive to achieve a number of broad-based goals including:

  • Depict current conditions across the organization
  • Provide access to historical data for analyzing trends and planning purposes
  • Deliver actionable insight and predictions for driving efficient operations and preventing future issues
  • Pinpoint or narrow down root cause during outages and degradation of service

From a functional perspective, a performance monitoring dashboard should be able to provide top-level perspectives, based on roles, as well as data drill-downs as necessary. The platforms should be simple to use for all users regardless of skill level or position. A single point of control system can allow silos to collaborate as a means of remediating potential performance issues and this is called Connected Intelligence.

What Most Performance Monitoring Platforms Lack

For instance, performance monitoring systems typically consist of complicated dashboards that are difficult to navigate. Also, they tend to lack cohesive navigation and linkages that encourages the sharing of information across silos.
The absence of a unified platform makes it an arduous task for teams to adequately support operations. Many performance monitoring systems fail to provide both top-level information all the way down to raw data access. In order for IT teams to sufficiently monitor the health and performance of services —they must bridge domain silos together from various sources.

The same Gartner report (linked at the bottom) states that the goal of an ideal performance monitoring dashboard should be to unify silos together using a common location and source that presents performance and health data. Building a five-level dashboard hierarchy can help teams operate strategically in a more efficient manner.

Building and Connecting the Instrumented Enterprise

Organizations use a variety of dashboards for their performance monitoring needs. Integrating data from a variety of sources has proven to be both nuanced and challenging. Many companies operate using dashboards specifically designed for individual domains. The ideal hierarchy addresses both top-level concerns and contextual drill-downs as a means of achieving mission-critical priorities and strategic business objectives and consists of the following layers:

  • Top-level: provides first-level business support and is crucial to all members of the team. It focuses on the end-user experience and provides high-level viewpoints that can be easily understood by all users.
  • Triage dashboard: allows teams to identify degradation issues related to servers, networks, or various applications. This layer breaks down top-level metrics into component categories across various silos.
  • Dependency-mapping dashboard: links application, network, and server infrastructure together to provide common views across business silos. Like the triage level, it’s purpose is troubleshooting performance issues.
  • Application drill-down/network drill-down/infrastructure drill-down dashboards: each of these dashboards cater to specific teams and provide a look into underlying performance and health issues.
  • Raw data: for detailed analysis, raw data gives insight into deep root cause problems. Access to this level of data is not necessitated on a daily basis, but it should be made available as needed in an intelligently presented manner.

Technical and Business Architectures Are More Relational, Hence We Need Performance Management To Go Farther

The Gartner dashboard hierarchy provides an intuitive, layered approach to operation planning; yet as we are learning in data management and AI, graph models based on stakeholder needs provide better intuitive linkages than a hierarchy once you are below the top executive layer. Linking and understanding causal relationships and responsibilities will drive the right information and ability to move to the right information in a single move. While a hierarchy provides an important fast, first step, don’t get too comfortable. You will want to and should go further as more and more of our business becomes software-defined. The dynamics of software-defined everything will require a flexible approach as portions of our business dynamically configure.

Combining views from multiple point tools can be a challenge for many organizations. Gartner cited edgeTI as one of the few capable firms of solving this issue, yet we do much more to automate and coordinate activity. We suggest you read the Gartner Report for their full take. If you would like to learn more about Connected Intelligence and how to build your Ideal Performance Monitoring Dashboard, please contact us for a demonstration or discussion.

If you want to revisit the keynotes from this blog, make sure to watch our video blog.