Using Proactive Change Management to Maximize Application Performance – SolarWinds Briefing Note

Application performance degradation can significantly drag on business productivity and the internal, as well as external, end-user experience. In the event that an application is not performing up to business requirements, it is important for IT to have effective change management processes in place to remedy it. However, the manual-intensive updates and ad hoc, spreadsheet-based recording that are characteristic of many existing change management processes do not fit the bill.

In today’s application-driven economy, application managers sit on the front lines of reacting to quickly evolving end user requirements and market opportunities. Many organizations are embracing DevOps to increase agility and the pace at which they develop and evolve applications, as well as facilitating closer and more strategic collaboration between applications and line of business owners. Against this backdrop, lengthy troubleshooting of application performance degradation is a significant pain point and costs highly valuable productivity that the business cannot afford to lose.

Meanwhile, underlying infrastructure has become more heterogeneous, as IT employs a mixture of on and off-premises resources to best meet application-specific performance requirements, security needs, and other features and functionalities. This adds complexity and lengthens the time it takes to troubleshoot an application performance issue.

IT managers are in a position where they must identify issues such as bottlenecks before they impact the application’s performance. To do so, IT managers should consider a proactive approach to change management that sets application-specific service level agreements, and that applies a global dashboard for centralized, simplified management and visibility as well as compliance with application-specific service level agreements (SLAs).

SolarWinds Web Help Desk Change Management

IT operations management and monitoring software provider SolarWinds has integrated rule-based, automated change management workflows into its Web Help Desk software to simplify and enable more proactive change management. The platform focuses on automatically associating request approvals with service requests and on streamlining communication to accelerate service fulfillment.

Specifically, Web Help Desk complements SolarWinds’ deep visibility across server, storage and networking systems as well as databases with an ability to automatically associate service request types with approval and change processes. Processes for creating, assessing, approving and implementing changes are customizable and may be as simple or as granular as the business requires.

Approvers may be specifically designated, or they may be dynamically chosen based on location, department or type of request, to a Change Management Board (CAB). Approvers may have varying approval levels, and they vote in a panel fashion to accept or reject a service request. Approval or denial of requests is conducted through an easy-to-use Web interface and email, and communication between approvers and requesters regarding the status of the request is automated. Once the change request is approved, Web Help Desk automatically assigns tasks to IT technicians.

At its core, Web Help Desk increases standardization of procedures. This stands to not only improve service quality and to reduce the impact of changes on the business, but it also stands to increase the productivity of IT and lines of business alike. As a result, it can help the business to collaborate more strategically when it comes to preparing for changes, and when it comes to better aligning the roster of IT services to business objectives.

StorageSwiss Take

More proactive change management better positions IT to react to the influx of new infrastructure resources, as well as dynamically changing business processing. One of SolarWinds’ key value adds to the change management conversation is its ability to provide a centralized view across the hardware, virtualization and application stacks, and as a result visibility into component dependencies. This visibility facilitates a deeper understanding of how an issue in a particular element of the infrastructure stack can impact an application’s performance. For instance, IT managers may compare key metrics such as I/O hot spots and peak hours to identify patterns and the root cause of problems. Better understanding an application’s performance in the past can help IT managers to predict how an application will perform in the future. It can also reduce time to resolution in the event of an issue with performance.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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