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Streamlining application performance issue tracking
A guide to social collaboration tools in HP Performance Anywhere
By Boris Korenfeld, HP Software Products and Solutions Engineering
When tasked with ensuring the ongoing performance of enterprise applications, effective monitoring is only the first step. As issues are identified, application owners in Operations need to have a consistent and trackable process that enables efficient ways to work with others in the IT organization to investigate and resolve application anomalies or bugs.
A critical part of these processes are the established collaboration protocols between application owners and the development team, as well as other subject matter experts (SMEs) in Operations. How is information shared, and with whom? What information is required to resolve issues? DevOps is a method that forges stronger links between Development and Operations so they can work in concert to improve overall IT performance, and collaboration plays a key role.
This guide demonstrates how HP Performance Anywhere integrates social tools to enable DevOps collaboration, streamlining workflows between team members and ensuring the right information is at the fingertips of the right people so that performance issues can be resolved as quickly as possible.
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Investigating Performance or Availability issues
When an application support engineer detects on his Application Overview dashboard a problem, he will begin investigating the anomaly by drilling down into Analytics Overview. This analytics dashboard provides a high-level view of the relevant application components. Viewing a specific report on latency or CPU metrics, for example, helps to narrow the possible causes of a specific problem.
For example, if Dev had recently pushed code changes in the application, the code change will be listed under "Top Causes" in the Analytics Overview (with integration of HP Diagnostics and HP Application Lifecycle Intelligence). The application support engineer can review the content of the build that was pushed to production, including:
- Build number
- Deployment time
- Names of developers who worked on the build
- Code changes
Build content can also be accessed from other areas of the software, including the Diagnostics screens.
Opening a defect in HP ALM
Performance Anywhere integrates with both HP Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) software and its SaaS version, HP Agile Manager, providing a direct channel between Operations and Development.
If the application support engineer determines that a defect is present, he or she can quickly submit it to Dev using Performance Anywhere and have it automatically assigned to the relevant R&D manager and developers. By selecting "Open Defect", a description from the Analytics Overview is automatically input; the engineer needs to only define its priority and severity, and if necessary, fine tune the defect submission from a list of advanced inputs (includes Detected in Version, Closed in Build, Reproducible, Caused by Code Change, Defect Type and Subject).
Collaborating with Activities
An application support engineer may decide he or she needs to collaborate more directly with one or more developers or Ops SMEs. This is a practical example of DevOps in action.
An Activity is a kind of collaboration ticket that participants can use to track conversations about a specific anomaly or bug. Participants can add images, logs, files or structured data that are relevant to resolving the issue.
An Activity can be created from anywhere in the application, simply by assigning it a name in the field directly above the main window.
The Activity owner
Whomever creates an Activity is its owner. This individual can define policies related to who can add new participants and whether the Activity is private to participants or publicly visible to others who are registered for Performance Anywhere.
Keeping an Activity private can be important for well-defined escalation processes—especially in large organizations—allowing for a full investigation to occur prior to making a decision to notify a larger team of an issue.
To collaborate with a member of the development team or an SME from a different domain (ex. Network or Database), the engineer opens the collapsable conversation chat stream, which slides out from the right side of the window. By clicking the "Participants" tab at the bottom of this window, he or she can search for specific users, as well as select from a list of Recommended Participants
By typing into the chat window, participants receive notifications via email. The most recent chat update also appears on the Activity itself in participants' dashboards for quick review of its status. In this example, the Activity owner can request that a developer look into an anomaly that he has identified.
Capturing screen images
To help quickly share important information about an anomaly or other issue, an Activity owner and others can add screen-capture images to the Activity, which is often faster than describing it. Simply click the camera icon in the top right corner and the image is added to the conversation stream.
As previously noted, a member of the development team who is added as a participant to the Activity will both receive an email notification. This email will contain the entire conversation thread, and a reply will be automatically appear within the Activity's conversation stream on Performance Anywhere. The Activity itself will also appear in his or her dashboard.
When a participant opens the Activity, they are presented with the conversation stream as well as any screen images that the Activity owner captured and other related logs or files, allowing a developer to quickly get up to speed on the specific issue that the Activity owner identified.
Participants can also respond in the chat window, which notifies the Activity owner.
Archiving and reminders
In some situations, owners or participants may not need to actively monitor the status of particular Activity. To remove the Activity from their dashboard, they simply select "Archive", and the Activity will only reappear on their dashboard when a new update is posted by another participant.
A reminder can also be set so that if no further updates are made to the Activity in question within a specific timeframe, the Activity is reactivated on the dashboard.
Once an Activity is resolved, it can be archived. All Activities, active and archived, are part of a searchable knowledge base of Performance and Availability issues, so that issues can be cross-referenced and identified more easily. A member of Dev or Ops teams can perform a search based on specific terms as well as the content of conversations.
Performance Anywhere also automatically identifies related Activities to quickly cross-reference issues or anomalies that may be been opened by other users.
Experience Performance Anywhere
Want to learn more? Visit the product page to get all the details about what HP Performance Anywhere offers.
To evaluate how social collaboration and other features of HP Performance Anywhere can improve how you monitor application performance and availability, register for our beta trial program, and check out the Performance Anywhere community site, where you can post questions, enhancement requests and share your feedback with us.