The Butterfly Effect in IT

The “Butterfly Effect” theoretically describes a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings weeks before. This highlights a sensitive dependence on environmental conditions where a small change at one place (Dev Env) can result in large differences to a later state (Production).

Consider the possibility that a small innocuous code change could go undetected, promoted through Development & QA, and then have catastrophic effects on performance once it reaches production. The environmental variants need to be minimized and closely monitored to prevent the anomalous behaviour.

Depending on transaction volume and performance characteristics there will be a certain level of noise that will need to be squelched to a volume level that can be analysed. This is the precipice where Application Performance Management (APM) intersects Capacity Management and advanced analytics opens the door to predictive modelling. The ability to ascertain how the physical and virtual environments will react to a “what if” scenario is why optimizing the application life cycle is so important.

Consider the challenge of monitoring any new application brought into the environment being similar to predicting the behaviour of a new child that enters the classroom. There is a sensitive dependence on initial conditions based on their own predispositions, which creates interdependencies on future actions that can be difficult to predict.

Using the same technologies in a consistent manner to manage all environments has a tremendous benefit for minimizing anomalies, just as consistent classroom management provides a framework to reduce errant student behaviour.

Conclusion –  I’m suggesting that expanding an APM solution to cover all environments across the application life-cycle will help lay the foundation for providing an amplified feedback loop to improve application performance and the customer experience.


Larry Dragich (LinkedIn) Director of Customer Experience Management at a large insurance company. He is actively involvLarry_Dragiched with industry leaders sharing knowledge of Application Performance Management (APM) best practices, resource allocation, and approaches for implementation. He has been working in the APM space since 2006 where he built the Enterprise Systems Management team which is now the focal point for IT performance monitoring and capacity planning activities.  Larry is also a regular blogger on APMdigest, and a contributing editor on Wikipedia focused on defining the APM space and how it ties into the critical ITIL processes many companies are now using.

This article first appeared at LinkedIn and has been reproduced at Practical Performance Analyst with permission from the author.

Related Posts

  • Application Aware–Infrastructure Performance Management – Virtualization PracticeApplication Aware–Infrastructure Performance Management – Virtualization Practice For years, Gartner has insisted that if an APM tool does not cover each of its “Five Dimensions of APM,” one of which is deep code analysis, then it is not an APM tool. Gartner has therefore defined APM to be relevant only to custom-developed applications. Well, it has finally woken up […]
  • Distilling Performance PatternsDistilling Performance Patterns Introduction: Application Performance Management (APM) has many benefits when implemented with the right support structure and sponsorship. It's the key for managing action, going red to green, and trending on performance. As you strive to achieve new levels of sophistication when […]
  • Predictions For 2014: Technology MonitoringPredictions For 2014: Technology Monitoring This article was posted by John Rakowski at Forrestor's Blog - Link My new report went live this week for Forrester clients - Predictions For 2014: Technology Monitoring. Normally I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to predictions, especially in regards to technology, because while […]
  • Application Monitoring : Comparing OptionsApplication Monitoring : Comparing Options What happens when mission critical Java applications slow down or keep crashing in production? The vast majority of IT Operations (Ops) today bury their heads in log files. Why? because thats what they’ve been doing since IBM invented the mainframe. Diving into the weeds feels good, […]