Journey through Enterprise IT Services
In Journey through Enterprise IT Services, Nadhan, HP Distinguished Technologist, explores the IT Services industry, and discusses technology trends in simplified terms.

Monitoring applications is like maintaining cars

Remember Susan with the 1930 Pontiac Coupe who has recently had some problems with her electric utility?  When she was driving her pick-up truck one day, the right wheel suddenly wobbled and came off. Scary.

Truck Damage.jpg


Reminds me of how applications are similar to cars. Applications also encounter problems and have to be "repaired." However, reacting to a single vehicle is one thing. Imagine the same happening in an auto-racing environment where you have several cars going at ridiculously high speeds. That is the type of applications environment that enterprises have today. And then one of them encounters a problem—a  car breaks down.


Here are the top 5 similarities between monitoring applications and maintaining cars.


1. Diagnosis. Problem diagnosis is key. There are many moving parts in a pick-up truck, for example, the wheel mounted on the axle with the nuts and bolts holding it together. If something happens to the wheel, a spare tire is an interim solution at best. Like the car analogy, when applications encounter problems, the root cause of the problem has to be determined. You can’t just pop on a ‘spare tire’ and ignore the underlying issue.


2. Accuracy. Once the root cause has been determined, the problem must be resolved the right way. In Susan's case, the pick-up truck was repaired with an incorrect set of lug nuts which could have caused the same incident to happen again. Fortunately, this error was detected early and fixed once and for all. Even if a problem is diagnosed right, incorrect resolutions can lead to the application exhibiting the personality of a Problem Child.

Truck Repaired.jpg


3. Process. Auto-racing teams do in a matter of seconds what usually takes a few hours. They have a well-defined process that they continuously automate and improve to reduce the overall time consumed. Sound familiar? Applications management environments have to continually go through a similar process improvement with a healthy dose of automation baked in.


4. Metrics. Capturing the metrics around the types of problems that recur is key to gleaning intelligence through patterns analysis. Such intelligence determines the type of preventive maintenance to be performed. Cars have a whole set of such preventive measures defined in the auto-racing environment. Applications management environments must do so as well—driven by their respective service-level needs and the seasonal peaks and lows.


5. Time. It all boils down to time, which translates into service levels. How long does it take to resolve a problem, for the car to get back into the race, for the business process enabled by the application to resumed? The technical aspects of the problem encountered do not matter to the business users. They care about the business outcome that gets impacted by the application in question.


Even though auto-racing is strikingly similar to the applications management environment, there is a fundamental nuance that separates the two.


At the end of the race, all the racing cars come to a full stop and are taken back to their respective homes. Applications, on the other hand, run forever!


How about you? What does your applications landscape look like? What kinds of cars do you have to deal with? What are some of the preventive measures you have taken to proactively address these issues? Please let me know.


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Paul Hodges on ‎12-19-2012 01:20 PM - last edited on ‎12-19-2012 01:26 PM Nadhan

Great article!

Nadhan | ‎12-19-2012 01:28 PM

Thank you, Paul.  If you liked this one, you might like the one about Applications Parallel Parking themselves even better!


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