There may have been a day and a place when payment networks were relatively straight-forward. Private lines, hub-and-spoke topologies, centralized management, operated by a single IT team, single-purpose built, only a few device types. Basic diagnostic tools resolved the typical problems. Expectations were low or at least reasonable.
That may have been a faerie-tale world. Maybe it was never quite like that. But it certainly is not like that today.
When the end-user presses the button to confirm a payment or cash withdrawal, the subsequent cascade of individual transactions takes on a distinctly complex character. The path from here-to-there is no longer straight and more sideways than forward. ATMs and POS networks have been outsourced as 3rd party services; alternative payment mechanisms abound, driven by the Web, Cloud and mobile technologies; identification and authorization have been augmented with fraud analysis; bank networks are inter-connected; rewards programs are integral to many payment methods; data centers are increasingly outsourced…..
Moving a dollar from A to B means that it passes through many more hands before it is finally authorized. That means many more dependencies, many more 3rd parties, many more applications, many more protocols, and many more network hops.
Now – troubleshoot that!
In a radically simplified turn-of-phrase, this is the multi-hop complexity problem. To keep up with the times, we have introduced so many more factors into the equation that it is practically impossible to keep all the systems running fault-free. And yet we manage – lots of smart engineers designing and implementing, lots of support people taking calls, lots of technical folks sorting out the information from device and service logs, lots of calls back and forth between enterprises, customers and third party service providers. Lots of people. Lots of tools. Lots of time. Lots of money. Lots of inefficiency.
That multi-hop problem is a different kind of beast. As Einstein, so insightful, said:
The significant problems we face can not be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
Different kinds of solutions are needed to slay this technological Hydra. Or at least to tame it. Here is where the thinking has to transcend the usual device-oriented and component-based management. There are too many pieces, too many players, and too many paths, to even attempt managing it all piece-meal.
One answer – inter-application communications – provides a critical alternative. Monitoring what is being said between all the different applications. Constructing the end-to-end transaction. Providing granular transaction intelligence along the entire span of the exchange.
Hard to do? Definitely! It is simply a technological marvel. And it is at the heart of the value of business transaction management (BTM). That is the reason that it is one of the fastest growing sectors of the management space (well, after cloud management – even then, BTM is tightly intertwined with the Cloud).
For a deeper understanding of how business transaction management, also known as business transaction monitoring and application transaction profiling solutions, can help you manage complex, multi-hop transaction environments, read this new whitepaper from INETCO titled, “Adopting the BTM Point of View – A Holistic Approach to Monitoring Distributed, Multi-hop Enterprise Environments”.
To learn more about multi-hop environments, take a few minutes to watch these two short videos from Loki’s Cryptex: Unlocking the Secrets of Transaction Complexity:
Monitoring your Globe-Trotting Payment Transactions
Multi-link Muse: A Growing Dilemma in your Banking and Payment Processing Environments?