The Changing Dynamics of Application Performance Management

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In an era when companies are connecting with consumers through digital media and technology with greater frequency, maintaining high levels of customer service has never been more important for those companies that are experiencing significant increases in customer encounters through websites and social media connections. The day when a website was nothing more than electronic yellow pages advertisement has long past. In an effort meet their customer elevated expectations today’s websites have become far more complex and interconnected within the cyber-world.

Managing website performance is vastly more complex than it was in the early days of the web, primarily due to the introduction of mobile applications and multiple third party services. “Most web pages and mobile apps these days are composed of multiple services – anywhere from dozens to hundreds,” explains Jyoti Bansal, Founder and CEO of Dynatrace. “All of the moving parts may be working all right by themselves but there may be issues with how they interact with each other.” In a highly competitive digital marketplace, consumers are exorcising their power of influence to raise the bar when it comes to website speed, functionality and user simplicity. Application performance management (APM) is now all about the customer’s experience and no longer just the focus of the company’s team of IT professionals.

APM is a discipline within systems management that focuses on monitoring the performance of software applications and strives to detect and diagnose application performance problems in an effort to maintain an expected level of service. As the digital world becomes a more predominate vehicle where companies attract and interact with their customers, the APM industry is experiencing a rebirth and is challenged not only by systems complexities but with bringing digital professionals and IT personnel together.

Consumer expectations of website performance have never been higher. Users of traditional digital, and now mobile, are commanding faster and greater interactive levels of performance making effective APM more critical to a company’s bottom line. Today’s digital enterprises have only seconds to gain a customer’s loyalty and to keep them from moving on to a competitor.

However, the rapidly changing dynamics of APM is leading many business leaders to question its value, leading to delays in the deployment of the technology. The complexity in implementing and running APM tools, along with high upfront costs, are a concern to organizations leaders resulting in many of them to seek a more integrated approach to initiating APM. “As the approach towards model-driven, user-based app development becomes mainstream, APM will evolve into a priority for companies striving to meet high customer expectations,” said Frost & Sullivan Information and Communication Technologies Research Analyst Vu Anh Tien.

Solving the problems caused by the increased complexity of distributed applications operating in new environments like the cloud and mobile, will be challenging issues to for providers of APM going forward. An effective strategy will reduce the impact of poor application performance on business operations and create better IT convergence on business objectives focused squarely on an improved end-user experience.

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Jobs Report May Indicate it is Time to get back to Work

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Private sector employers have been steadily adding jobs for four years, and hiring has rebounded from a slowdown in late 2013 through the first quarter of earlier this year, but the report comes at a time when the labor force participation rate is at the lowest rate in 36 years. Average hourly earnings fell last month but the workweek increased to 34.6 hours prompting many workers to question when the reported recover will have a positive effect on their lives.

While the numbers are moving upward in the right direction, the feeling of uncertainty continues to temper any overt celebrations of optimism.  In their annual forecast, Indiana University Kelley School of Business economists were more optimistic than they have been in recent years, suggesting that 2015 could be the best year of economic recovery since the Great Recession. Bill Witte, associate professor emeritus of economics at IU said, “this favorable outcome is far from a sure bet; the level of uncertainty in the current environment is high.”

But a new report from Michigan State University is projecting some good news next year for all those college graduates still living at Mom and Dad’s house. Hiring for college graduates in 2015 is expected to jump by 16% and the numbers could go even higher according to Phil Gardner, director of Michigan State’s College Employment Research Institute (CERI), which conducted the survey. Last year the overall hiring increase for new grads was just 7%.

Hiring among telecommunications companies, motion pictures, broadcasting and publishing, will jump by 51% over last year with the second-fastest-growing category being Finance & Insurance. The “Professional, Business & Scientific Services” sector which includes jobs in management consulting, accounting, law, engineering services and computer design and services will round out those likely to be at the top of the hiring list.

IT hiring is expected to continue their upward trend next year, mostly in jobs associated with cybersecurity, cloud computing, business analytics, application development, wireless and mobile technology.  Starting salaries are expected to increase over 5% from 2014 numbers.

Whether the current trend in employment and economic optimism comes to fruition will depend on some stubborn uncertainties and world economic factors, but most will agree that they are tired of patiently waiting for meaningful and sustained jobs recovery. It is time to get back to work!

Are we prepared for a Cyber-attack of Nuclear Proportions?

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A new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project is revealing that more than 60 percent of the experts in technology and other related fields expect a major cyber-attack that will cause “widespread harm to a nation’s security and capacity to defend itself and its people, ” by the year 2025. Perhaps the best question coming out of the survey results isn’t whether or not such an attack is likely to occur, but who really thinks that it is going to be that long?  The recent persistent and rampant uptick in the number of cyber-attacks, and their exponential volume of pilfered data, begs reasonable minds to question to why anyone thinks it is going to be 10 years before practice makes it perfect and an adversary unleashes a major calamity.

J.J. Thompson, CEO and managing director of Rook Security says, “We are moving toward a connected world through not only the Internet of things, but through critical infrastructure. In the absence of adequate security controls, the results can be catastrophic.”  While the Pew Research Survey raises some genuine concerns, there has been significant progress in the threat detection and threat intelligence sharing spaces that has better readied us to mount a serious defense and minimize the damage such a major attack would cause. But mounting an effective coordinated defense will require increased collaboration and vigilance from both government and the private sector.

Admiral Michael S. Rogers, chief of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency believes, “as companies, governments and individuals continue to fear and deal with theft of their property by cyber-criminals, we have got to find a framework that we can use to bridge all the different players and bring them all together into one integrated team.” Forming an army of security professionals, sufficient in size and expertise, to successfully defend a major threat to info structure and the world’s information systems may be the most pressing and formidable challenge.

The reported shortage of cybersecurity professionals, both in the private and government sector, is a major concern for those responsible for security. A recent increase of government hiring of IT security professionals has compounded the problem. Cisco estimates that the shortfall in qualified candidates will exceed 1 million workers worldwide.  More than half of private firms say the lack of skilled professionals is a major reason for their inability to properly secure their data systems.

It would be easy to dismiss this heightened level of concern as just an over-reaction to a flurry of data system intrusions, but with the catastrophic impact a major cyber-event would have on today’s technology dependent societies all over the world, over preparation seems prudent and collective complacency foolish.

Admiral Rogers encourages us to ponder, “What if we had an Ebola-like challenge in the Internet? Not something actually infectious, but what if we had something equivalent to that in digital form, that could replicate on a global scale, with the potential ability to impact our information flow? That’s pretty amazing to me, but we’ve got to think about it.”

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Cyber-Breached Consumers May Be Short On Forgiveness

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According to a study released this week by CreditCards.com, more than 45 percent of the consumers surveyed indicated that they would either “definitely” or “probably” not shop at a retailer who mishandled their private information.  The price tag to Target so far has topped $148 million since the breach was announced last year, this new survey may suggests additional costs due to lost revenues going forward may increase the overall pain level for the giant retailer. It remains to be seen if consumers can be induced into a state of amnesia with creative marketing ploys and big discounts.

Financial institutions may be taking a lesson from retailer’s “How Not To” manual of experience.  A record 84 percent of financial institutions responding  to a survey by Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), listed cyber-risk as one of their top five concerns, an increase of 25 points since the last survey. It would be hard to imagine the negative financial impact on a Target or a J. P. Morgan if they were to experience another breach.

The increased volume of breaches and cybersecurity attacks this year, and the vast amounts of negative press that has followed each event, has Americans more afraid of becoming the victim of identity theft or other online crimes than they are of being shot, according to a new academic study. Chapman University in California released the results of its inaugural Chapman Survey on American Fears this week and although it found that people most fear walking alone at night, the next two most popular answers were “becoming the victim of identity theft” and “safety on the internet.”

With consumers so keenly focused on the potential miss handling of their personal financial information, retailers and bankers alike will need to be acutely and actively involved in efforts to avoid another major breach this holiday shopping season. “With major breaches being reported regularly now, it is critical for businesses of all sizes to make protection of their IT infrastructure their top priority, especially given the damages that arise from each successful targeted attack,” says Chris Doggett, managing director at Kaspersky Lab North America.

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