Discover Performance

HP Software's community for IT leaders // October 2012
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Get ready for mobile application monitoring

There’s more at stake than ever. Here’s how to rethink the way you collaborate so you’re ready for the brave new world of mobile.

Most enterprises have begun devoting more budget share to the development and support of mobile applications. But few have realized that they need to start investing more mindshare in mobile apps, too. In the next several years, the balance of operations will shift heavily toward supporting mobile applications over any other type, and that requires a new way of thinking.
 
Why should Ops be concerned? Because the world of mobile applications has everything that the Ops team has been sweating about for years: limited visibility, reliance on third-party services, skyrocketing user adoption, and socially active users whose complaints echo far and wide through the web. Ops teams need to start reframing the way they think, making mobile monitoring the rule and desktop apps the exception. Then they need to rethink how they collaborate, from the ground up. Here’s how.

Step 1: Anticipate your blind spots

Mobile app monitoring is all about blind spots. First, your users are anywhere and everywhere around the world. They’re on myriad device types running different operating systems. The dev cycle is lightning-fast. You’re pulling things like geo-location services from third parties. And you’re at the mercy of content distribution networks and wireless service providers who might have their own issues that affect the way users experience your app. It doesn’t matter who is causing the problem; to customers, the problem is that your app doesn’t run. There are two practical ways to remove the blind spots:

  1. Instrument the mobile app with JavaScript from your monitoring vendor to provide transaction tracing across the complete value delivery chain; and
  2. Monitor your mobile apps from multiple locations so you can pinpoint problems like wireless service issues.

Step 2: Collaborate with the lines of business

To manage the unknowns, you must stay ahead of the curve and be prepared. One key area to focus on is the pipeline. Have regular planning meetings with the lines of business and especially your marketing peers to understand what’s coming your way. You need to know when to expect spikes in usage so you can prepare to support and monitor them. You also need to consider the things that might go wrong and create a contingency plan. The day your users increase from 10,000 to 100,000 is not the day to figure out how to handle the traffic. Designate one person on the Ops team to serve as your single point of contact with your CMO and marketing team.

Step 3: Collaborate with the apps team

Once you know what the lines of business have in mind, collaborate closely with the apps team. Make sure they’re doing the right kind of testing for the kind of monitoring you’ll perform, including performance, load and functionality testing. Be clear about what standards you expect the app to meet before you’ll consider it ready for prime time. When the organization’s reputation is on the line, you don’t want any surprises from apps. Hold a short “release” meeting with Dev so you get “acquainted” with the application to understand the requirements/functionality, performance and security.

Step 4: Find stability

There’s no question about the need to bring down the wall that traditionally separates the Ops team and Security team. But if you haven’t made much progress down that path, it’s time to speed up your journey.
 
Security is critically important in your mobile apps, because you’re probably dealing with a higher volume of sensitive information than ever before: personal messages, credit card data, address books and location data. Users are accessing your app from networks around the world, including ones that aren’t well-secured. They might be installing your application alongside apps that haven’t been well-vetted and could present a security threat to every other app on the device. To prevent breaches in your own apps, you must collaborate better with the security and quality assurance teams to test for security defects.

Start planning now

In the mobile world, it’s not enough to do a better job of monitoring the mobile apps that land at your doorstep. You can’t do your job effectively if you don’t know about and plan for those apps long before they’re your responsibility.

For more on mobile monitoring, visit hp.com/go/mobilemonitoring.


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