Managing Mobile Apps in a BYOD Environment? SteelCentral Provides the Performance Metrics You Need


If you’re like most corporations embracing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, you may be facing a challenge in how to assure a quality user experience. How does IT guarantee an excellent mobile user experience on a device it doesn't own?

In the latest installment in the Riverbed blog series on End User Experience Monitoring (EUEM), Product Evangelist Mike Marks touches on how SteelCentral Aternity can help you provide excellent application performance to your users even when they're accessing business apps on their own phones or tablets.

We spoke with Marks to get more insight on how Riverbed can help you grapple with the realities of BYOD, and learned:

  • How enterprises can use Aternity to instrument apps on mobile devices owned by employees
  • What makes Riverbed's offerings unique in the world of mobile application performance management

As it turns out, the real value Riverbed delivers comes not just from instrumenting the apps that run on BYOD devices — but from the important business activity analytics that Aternity provides.

Video: Guarantee Excellent Mobile User Experience for Customers and Workforce

Curious about how Aternity works in practice? Check out this video to see SteelCentral Mobile APM in action for some key use cases. Watch now >

Making yourself at home on end-user devices

For a corporate IT department managing company-issued laptops or PCs, it’s simple to use an agent-based approach like Aternity for End User Experience Monitoring. IT owns the device, so the Desktop Services team can install the monitoring agent, just like they install the corporate owned productivity apps, VPN client, etc.

But many enterprises today allow the use of personal mobile devices to access company networks, apps, and data. And users expect to be able to choose the models and platforms that suit them. That diversity of manufacturers, devices, OSs, and carriers makes it challenging to manage. And that’s even before the privacy concerns users have about monitoring what runs on their own personal devices.

"You’re not going to put a piece of monitoring software on my device," says Marks. "I don’t want you tracking my location, or seeing what I do on my phone — I'm not giving you a look into my mobile banking, for instance. And I don’t want your monitoring software to slow down my device."

Instrument the app, not the device

The way around this limitation is to not instrument the user’s device, but to instrument your company’s mobile apps themselves. There are two ways you can do this with SteelCentral Aternity:

  • For apps you develop in-house, your development team can build in instrumentation using the Aternity Mobile SDK.
  • You can also use an Aternity Mobile Wrapper to instrument an app without tagging the code. Non-developers can apply the wrapper to either third-party apps or those you build in-house and still get the same level of monitoring that the SDK does.

Instrumented apps can then be distributed via your enterprise app store.

Figure 1. Instrumenting a mobile app for monitoring.

Using an SDK or a wrapper for performance monitoring isn't that different from the approaches that Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) vendors like MobileIron or IBM follow for management and security. But it's the performance information that Riverbed provides that augments these capabilities and delivers unique value.

What are you instrumenting for?

Most APM vendors can also instrument apps to let corporate IT know, for instance, if the app is experiencing excessive crashes, errors, or slow response times. "Those metrics are table stakes," says Marks. "But what Aternity delivers in addition is business activity analytics."

Imagine an insurance agent out in the field in a disaster-struck region, processing insurance claims on an Apple iPad. The agent relies on her corporate-issued claims management app to look up customers, fill out damage assessment forms, and send data to corporate HQ.

"Of course you want to know if that app crashes," says Marks. "That’s really important. But you also want to know if it's taking too long to process a claim, or to look up a record, or issue a payment. What SteelCentral Aternity does is monitor the response time of these business activities relative to performance expectations, tracking the key business steps, the units of work, that the mobile work force is using mobile apps for."

SteelCentral Aternity provides unique insights into the user experience on BYOD devices:

  • How long does it take for business activities to execute?
  • Are SLA targets for business activities being met?
  • How do variations in geography, OS, or device vendor or model affect performance?

And because Aternity provides the same business activity analytics on mobile apps that it does for any other type of app, it lets you compare productivity across platforms.

Figure 2. As illustrated in the dashboard above (1) SteelCentral enables you to monitor app performance by geography or department. Here it’s clear that users who work out of the Los Angeles office are experiencing trouble with the Order Execution app. (2) You can also track usage by OS name, version, or device type. Clearly the majority of Order Execution users are on iPhones. (3) SteelCentral also shows you the trends in app usage throughout the day so you know when your busy times are. (4) Not only can you track app crashes over time and drill down into the cause, but (5) you can also track the response time users see for the key business activities they perform within your app. Here it’s clear that the “Map View” and “Login” activities are failing to meet SLA thresholds for acceptable performance.

Get the data you really need

"The whole idea," says Marks, "is to go beyond crashes, hangs, errors, and expand the idea of what service performance means around business activity analytics. Because isn’t that the whole point — to make your workers more productive, whether they’re on a mobile device or in the office?"

If you're ready to learn more, check out our upcoming webinar on mobile APM. Or, better yet, you can get instant access to Aternity in our cloud environment and explore the mobile APM case yourself.