What is an Application Workload?

An application workload is the computing resources—including CPU, memory, I/O, and network—and the amount of time required to perform a specific task or produce an output. Important characteristics of application workloads include:

  • Performance: How easily the computer handles the workload
  • Response time: The time between a user request and a response to the request from the system
  • Throughput: How much work is accomplished over a period of time

Because computing requirements are varied, so are the workloads.

Types of Application Workloads

Some of the typical application workloads you might find in a hybrid cloud environment include:

  • Batch workloads, which tend to process huge volumes of data.
  • Transactional workloads, which are often automated business processes such as billing and order processing.
  • Analytic workloads, where the emphasis is on the ability to analyze the data embedded in these workloads across public websites, private clouds, and the data warehouse.
  • High-performance workloads, which usually are specialized processes with scientific or technical requirements.
  • Database workloads, an extremely common type of workload, which must be tuned and managed to support the service(s) using that data.

Why Monitoring Application Workloads Is Important

Application performance management (APM) tools monitor business transactions as they move through an application and establish dynamic baselines. These tools can track every line of code and initiate deep diagnostics if performance wavers. Many can also monitor servers (CPU, disk utilization, memory consumption) and databases (performance metrics like resource consumption, database objects, schema statistics). This enables companies to focus on revenue and conversion rates rather than on application performance issues alone. However, if you have 1,000 applications, you might license and instrument APM to monitor only 10% of them—just the business-critical applications. For budgetary reasons, you wouldn’t have APM instrumented for the remaining 90% of applications, which may be tier 2 and tier 3 and may include commercial off-the-shelf applications, like backup or authentication, where code-level visibility does not offer much value.

Furthermore, while your application management tools monitor applications, virtual servers, and databases, they can’t see the underlying SAN or storage infrastructure. The shared SAN infrastructure could, however, be used by a “noisy neighbor” application which adversely impacts the SLA of a tier 0/1 application. Therefore, it’s also important to implement infrastructure performance management (IPM) to get a deeper visibility into what’s happening and all the factors that might be affecting application availability and performance.

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