Application Performance Management 

ICT job shortage in Europe: A problem of E.P.I.C. proportions?

How CA Technologies E.P.I.C. APM tool can help address the ICT skills shortage in Europe and what’s needed from the education system to improve the situation down the road.

Recently, more and more we hear about an ICT skills shortage in Europe. Employers in the EU are struggling to find qualified candidates they so desperately need to play a role in today’s application economy.

Some estimates suggest that Europe will face a significant shortfall of almost one million ICT professionals by 2020. Recently, a software company decided to close its development center in The Netherlands, costing 300 jobs, because it couldn’t find enough qualified people locally. In The Netherlands alone, there are currently 34,000 vacancies for IT specialists.

The UK, Germany and Italy each have over 60 percent of all ICT vacancies in Europe. And even if we assume that this is currently 25 percent of the 1 million vacancies we expect in 2020, we are still talking about 150,000 people jobs in these three countries.

Where did we go wrong?

Part of this problem is the education system; we don’t train people for the jobs employers are looking to fill. We also don’t cover enough IT in mid-level schools. Where we do (i.e. high school and universities), we don’t teach them things they are able to use immediately.

But it will be a long process to solve this. In the meantime, we have to look for other solutions – one of them is to use the time we spend on developing applications more efficiently. In other words, “Do more with less.”

One-quarter of time spent on coding?

In my experience, and I tried to look for proof but unfortunately could not find any scientific evidence, developers spend less than 50 percent of their time on actual coding.

So where do they spend their time then?

Well, they spend a lot of time waiting and searching: waiting for hardware that is not available or servers that are not configured with the right operating system, database or application. For testing capabilities, they wait on other programmers to finish their bits on data from the network, database, application and hardware teams to help them solve performance issues.

So imagine if we could cut that by half. We would have 25 percent less coding vacancies, right?

There is no single solution that can solve all of this – service virtualization can help solve a lot of the waiting and this is an area where huge improvements can be made. And it may sound strange, but application performance management (APM) is another area where we can find huge time-savings.

The importance of performance

In today’s application economy, good performance should be a number one priority. Every step in the lifecycle of the application, from the initial architecture to coding and testing, should be moved into different environments with new functionalities. If we do all the right things, it will almost guarantee a solid performance once the application move to production – right?

The benefit of APM tools

Unfortunately, most application developers have no idea how their code performs once they hand it over to other departments for testing, QA and production. And it is very important that we get it right from the start and use APM solutions because this is not only the time where the baselines are set, it’s also the time where most of the performance bottlenecks can be found and solved in the cheapest possible way.

Another advantage of this is that, when the application is released, we have the right monitoring in place from the start and this gives us real insight in the performance as well as the bottlenecks of the application in the most critical phase: at release time when we expect most new users to sign up. And you don’t get many chances to get it right; a website or app that doesn’t perform well will be simply ignored.

What makes this so hard is the fact that any app these days is a complex assembly of components running on different platforms and connected by different internal (i.e. TCP/IP) and external (i.e. fiber, cable, wired, wireless and GPRS/4G) networks and protocols.

So any tool we expect to give us a complete and in-depth view of the real performance that the end-user is experiencing should support everything from the DB2/Oracle transaction on the IBM z Series to the moment he clicks a mouse or taps the screen to make the app do something. Only then we will know how well we’ll, and more importantly, we’ll know when the performance starts to degrade before many of the users start experiencing it.

How APM makes problem solving easier

Those of us who ever have worked in the Application Performance space know how satisfying it is when you can solve a performance problem or increase the performance of an application. We also know how frustrating it is when something, somehow seems to disappear in a black-hole, only to come out of it after four seconds, knowing that exactly these four seconds are causing our users to complain.

More importantly, we know how much time we spend finding the exact problem – sometimes days! That is why it is so important that integrated APM solutions can monitor and measure every component that your application touches in context.

CA Technologies E.P.I.C. APM delivers a solution that is Easy, Proactive, Intelligent and Collaborative (E.P.I.C.) across the application lifecycle.

Easy: Simplify management for thousands of agents with a central repository of all agent configurations and meta-data across all your APM clusters.

Proactive: View both mobile and synthetic transaction data in a single APM dashboard and link those transactions to the underlying infrastructure.

Intelligent: Automatically collect transaction traces when a problem occurs – no need to re-create the issue – with patent-pending analytics that remove the need for application expertise.

Collaboration: Enable better communication between Dev and Ops specialists to resolve problems faster by utilizing the same production tool in development with a unified view of the infrastructure and apps that affect business services.

So, if you can’t wait for the education system to fix their problems, there are other things you can do to make your IT people more effective. To find out more, download our white paper.

Marcel is principal for product marketing EMEA for CA Technologies, mainframe solutions and is a…


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