Sunday, February 13, 2005

Who Manages J2EE and .NET Applications in Production?

We all talk about "Application Management", and at least some of us claim to truly understand what it is and how to do it properly. But putting aside the technologies, processes and all the hype surrounding the space, I want to raise a seemingly-easy question: if applications are being managed, it means someone is managing them. That's simple logic. In the application delivery phase (i.e. when the application is designed, developed and tested), the owner would always be the person running the application group. But when a home-grown application gets deployed into production, the picture becomes considerably more blurry. Traditionally, we have seen application development groups throw applications over the wall to the IT operations folks, who would then take over.

But how does this work with new distributed applications?

Well, I would claim that it just doesn't. Why?

Today's applications are incredibly complex. That means that no matter how good your testing team is, problems are imminent. Now can the average IT operator (a probable master in handling hardware, OS, network, firewalls, anti-virus, backup software and more and more) even begin to analyze a problem in an average J2EE application? I seriously doubt it…

What does all that mean?

Simply put, it means "developer power". If a J2EE/.NET application breaks, it would take a developer (or a developer-type of person) to fix it. How does this work? Some of the more advanced organizations that I've 'worked with have created a dedicated task force, sometimes referred to as "application support". This is a team of highly-skilled developer-level professionals who live and breathe the production environment. When the application runs slowly or crashes, they are there to fix it. Other organizations are attempting to bridge the gap between operations and development through process re-engineering and a bunch of new technologies. The other 90% are in trouble…

And what does the future hold for Application Managers?

Traditional walls will continue to fall… we will see a lot more application expertise in production, substantially increased cross-team collaboration, and new technologies to make this happen.

0.7999 probability :)

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