What is Application Performance Monitoring?

September 28th, 2020  by Laila Mahran

Networks used to be comprised of dozens of applications. Today, it's more likely to be hundreds or thousands. As networks become far broader in nature, it becomes more difficult to track down poorly performing applications. The answer is Application Performance Monitoring — the ability to improve and automate application management.

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What is APM?

Application Performance Monitoring is the process by which the performance of applications, including resource usage and the user experience of these applications, is continuously monitored. It's increasingly critical for high-performance networks today.

Through APM, applications are continuously monitored in terms of their system-wide performance and their user-performance. Issues are reported, analyzed, prioritized, and escalated, so they can be resolved as efficiently as possible depending on how serious they are. APM, today, is critical for a network of any complexity. It can be augmented with advanced solutions such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, to identify trends and respond to patterns that would otherwise be missed.

What do APM Metrics measure?

Metrics are a mix of technical metrics and soft scores. An APM might include error rates, latency, request rates, and application availability. Likewise, APM metrics may also include user satisfaction scores. APM is about both whether the application is operating correctly on a technological level and whether it's operating correctly for users. This is part of what makes it so useful for organizations.

Benefits of application performance monitoring

Through application performance monitoring, companies are able to get a better look at how each individual application is functioning. They are able to pare down to the applications that may be causing the most resource cost or confusion on the organization, and they are able to adjust to the changes that the environment needs. Poorly performing applications are able to be identified, both in terms of technical issues and user experience, and changes can be made to either replace these solutions ore fine-tune and optimize them.

Truthfully, Application Performance Monitoring is something that is now non-optional for environments of any complexity. With so many applications being used today, a lack of Application Performance Monitoring can lead to a system that is slow, sluggish, and confusing.

ABM's best practices

Understandably, a field as complex as Application Performance Monitoring involves a lot of intricacies. But like many other networking concepts, following a collection of best practices can make the process easier.

  • Prioritize applications properly. Some applications are naturally a higher priority than others, and it's important that any issues with these mission-critical applications be addressed faster. Within mission-critical applications, there are also mission-critical processes.
  • Make sure end-user metrics are tracked correctly. Performance metrics are not debatable, but user experience metrics are. Keep in mind that systems that are more complex may get higher user score rankings, or user satisfaction metrics may relate to soft processes rather than the technology behind them.
  • Define custom reports. Custom reports and custom metrics are what makes any type of performance management and monitoring applicable to the business itself. Every network is different, and every environment needs a custom solution.
  • Continuously review results. Application Performance Monitoring shouldn't just be utilized when there is an issue emergent. It should be continuously monitored for trends, patterns, and issues, rather than being pulled out when there is an issue significant enough to cause problems.

As with other types of network standardization and policy, the goal is to ensure that your monitoring is as consistent as possible. The more consistent it is, the less likely you are to run into errors — and if your processes prove not to be effective enough, the easier it will be to manage change related to them.

The most popular APM tools

There are many popular APM tools available. Dynatrace, Application Inishgts by Microsoft, DataDog APM, Loupe, and Stackify all lead in terms of market share. For organizations using Google Cloud or Amazon Web Services, the Google Cloud Monitoring and Logging solution provides complete monitoring services — including application management. Within the Google Cloud, the APM solution is called "StackDriver." It's one of the 90 utilities that Google Cloud Services currently includes.

For any organization, Application Performance Monitoring is now an essential feature. Networks can now become sprawling, and it can be difficult to isolate unintended behavior, network slowdowns, and other issues. The right metrics can make managing and monitoring the system easier, and free up internal networking staff to concentrate on other issues. Wondering whether and why you need APM? Contact us today.

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