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Futurist: The Three Great Application Performance Myths

I am a long-time Futurist, and technologist. In my career, I have spanned the birth of personal computers, to the rise of Cloud Computing.

improving applications can be like telling when round pancakes are done...

improving applications can be like telling when round pancakes are done...

Does your dog bite?

In either, the second or possibly the third movie in the Pink Panther series, the Peter Sellers character Inspector Clouseau is somewhere in either Austria or Germany. Clouseau sees a dog; I suspect he believed the dog belonged to the Innkeeper. So Clousause asks the Innkeeper, does your dog bite? The Innkeeper responded with no. Cousineau then reaches down, and the dog bites him. Clouseau looks at the Innkeeper and says. "I thought you said your dog doesn't bite? "The innkeeper smiled and smiled and said, "that's not my dog." We often assume in life, seeing two things together and assuming they belong together. So my thesis is simple things in information technology projects we put together that don't go together. To finish out my initial pun, things that are dogs that bite!


I wanted to kick this off that I am frequently guilty of making the assumptions that I'm sharing today. The assumptions in question are widespread, and it does not mean I am making fun of other people. I am simply pointing out that sometimes we place technology components that don't belong together. I think of the old song from Sesame Street. One of these things doesn't go with the other. In this case, one of the two things doesn't go with the other.


Let's start with long-held beliefs in the Application Performance space. There are three assumptions in the concept of improving application performance. The first is to increase the processing power available to make the application faster. The second is to speed up the disk system used in the application to make it faster. The third is to throw more network bandwidth at the solutions. The assumption is that it is one of the three issues. The reality is it is likely two or more of the three issues. It could be that the application is not performing well today because it has issues in being able to process the information required to produce the result. The application may have problems because the disk subsystem used for the application doesn't affect the time frame needed to quickly get the answers to the user. Then the last bit is yes, sometimes the network and the latency within the network structure are causing the application to be slow. The assumption I stated above is to fix one of the three. I'm going to upgrade the physical hardware the application runs on. Or, for that matter, I'm going to upgrade the virtual infrastructure the application runs on in the modern world. I'm going to increase the speed of the disk subsystem the application runs on. Or I'm going to increase the available bandwidth to the network segment where the application is running. Sadly you may do any one of the three, and the application will still be slow.

My dog doesn't bite. But you are standing where his jaws are about to close!

My dog doesn't bite. But you are standing where his jaws are about to close!

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The three assumptions can kill your project, if you are wrong!

How do we make our application faster? Pick one of the three assumptions. Another information technology assumption often lumped together but didn't fit together is the always interesting reality of cost. Now cost is one thing, so it's pretty straightforward what something costs to operate in your infrastructure. I want to talk about the two components of costs that are often put together but have very different value propositions for an organization. Propose cost savings to a CIO, and their immediate response will be this cost removal or cost avoidance? Over the years, many vendors have presented these two different cost factors to me as the same thing. They are far from the same thing. The assumption is that they are the same; sadly, thereality is not. Cost removal means you're taking money out of my current budget that I was already planning to spend. Cost avoidance means that some future money I was going to spend I no longer have to spend. The risk of cost avoidance is that my budget may change between the time you offer the savings and the time my organization can consume it. Cost removal, on the other hand, happens right away. It is a big assumption that the two are the same thing they are not.

The last assumption is Value. In many cases, Value, particularly software applications, cannot always be placed into a simple calculation that produces a dollar value. The Value of that application is the cost of the application subtracted from the total revenue generated by the use. Quite simply a simple value statement. But the problem with Value to an organization is that some value is not extrinsic. Employee retention has a dollars and cents aspect but can't always quantify as money. Getting into a new market may be expensive and may not be profitable at first. Sometimes that Value can ultimately be measured in the Value to the organization in terms of the total or increased share price. The reality is people often assume that Value directly correlates to monetary gain in the organization.

Those assumptions happen every day. I run into them frequently. The reality is that if you establish common terms upfront, communication is easier. You will be able to communicate that when you say Value, you mean increasing the strategic organizational responsiveness of the company. Or you mean directly increasing the price of the companies shares. Yeah, you may not make money from a strategic move in five years. You may not make it in ten years. But the reality is if you move and make strategic moves, the likelihood of you being in business in the 10 to 15 years you may need to collect the Value is there. You may throw millions of dollars in improving an application only to find that you could have fixed one small thing, and the application would be better. And finally, the enthusiasm of cost is an argument that you will have over and over again. If you seek only cost savings that are cost removal, you will eventually succumb to not having a strategy. You see to bring the last two together and combine them with the first, the reality of organizational improvement involves making your applications operate better while providing both short and long-term value conversations and reducing your cost. Assumptions can be a good thing if you use them to your advantage.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 DocAndersen

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