It feels like every week a new, clumsy acronym is thrown our way and we're expected to instantly recognise how this new technology or strategy can transform our everyday work.
Frequently, these acronyms drift away after a short spell in the limelight, but one new kid on the block - Application Aware Network Performance Management (AANPM, but also referred to as NPMD from 'Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics') - has already been valued as a $1 billion segment and looks set to last the course.
Roger Holder, marketing manager at Fluke Networks, told us what we need to know about this new trend.
TechRadar Pro: Why do you think Gartner has decided to develop a report and Magic Quadrant on Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics (NPMD) – wasn't it covered by other areas of their research?
Roger Holder: I believe it's because customer needs are changing, and they've recognised the importance of network performance to the business.
Traditionally the performance of networks and applications were monitored separately, using different systems run by different teams, but at Fluke we recognised some time ago that customers want to understand how applications interact with the network in order to solve performance problems quickly.
Gartner first started talking about NPMD more than a year ago, when one of their analysts blogged about 'the underserved network monitoring space'.
Their decision to develop the NPMD report highlights the growing importance of this market and emphasises just how vital network and application performance management is to helping enterprises achieve their business goals.
TRP: How is Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics different from Application Performance Management?
RH: NPMD, which is also referred to as Application-aware Network Performance Management (AANPM), takes user-centric view of everything happening across the network, providing end-to-end visibility of the network and applications and their interdependencies across Levels 1-7.
It doesn't look at applications from a coding perspective, but in terms of how they're deployed and how they're performing.
In contrast, Application Performance Management (APM) solutions typically support the application development team, providing auto-discovery of applications, together with transaction analysis, application usage analysis, end-user experience analysis, user-defined transaction profiling and the basic functions to monitor the health and performance of all configured application infrastructure assets.
However, if an application is running slowly they find it difficult to identify if it's a network or application problem. This is where NPMD/AANPM comes into its own.
TRP: How big is the potential market?
RH: According to market analysis conducted by Gartner: "At an estimated $1 billion, the NPMD market is a fast-growing segment of the larger network management space ($1.8 billion in 2012), and overlaps slightly with aspects of the application performance monitoring (APM) space ($2 billion in 2012)."
Gartner, Inc. ""Magic Quadrant for Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics"" by Jonah Kowell, Vivek Bhalla and Colin Fletcher, March 6, 2014
TRP: What does an NPMD solution do for an organisation, and what are the benefits?
RH: An NPMD/AANPM solution provides an integrated view of networks and the applications running on them. It uses data from both application and network performance, which helps all branches of IT to work together to solve problems and ensure optimal performance.
According to the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of data centre downtime is $5,600 per minute, so solving problems quickly is vital.
As well as providing faster problem-solving, it offers enhanced productivity, an improved user experience, cost savings (because you only need a single system), more time and data to support infrastructure optimisation, and it helps IT and business executives to understand the cost of running critical applications and the associated impact if they go offline.
TRP: Why does an organisation need an NPMD solution - can't their existing tools for managing the network do the job?