What Is Application Performance Monitoring?

Application Performance Monitoring, often referred to as APM, is a term thrown around by numerous tool vendors and major names across the industry. You’ve probably read multiple articles featuring the term APM or Application Performance Management. What’s the difference, though, and what is APM to begin with?

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Knowing the fundamentals along with the difference between the two is vital if you plan on using these tools to troubleshoot your app issues. This article is all about defining the two and helping you utilize both in a way that benefits your apps and your business.

Basic Application Performance Monitoring

The key word in this title is monitoring. APM, in broad terms, is anything that monitors the performance of your applications and websites. In its simplest form, an APM tool checks your website every so many minutes to see how long it takes your pages to load. These tools allow you to see when your site is running slow or if it is down.

That’s the simplest form, however. Basic application performance monitoring is best for monitoring the CPU of your servers, tracking app error rates, and tracking a few key metrics from SQL to Elasticsearch. All of these basic features are covered by Google Analytics, but none of them explain the “why” behind slow performance and down times.

Receiving an alert when a problem arises is great, but identifying an issue is only the first step to solving the problem. You’ll need specific tools, gathered data, and more insight if you want to solve the problem. That’s where more advanced APM and even Application Performance Management comes into play.

Advanced Application Performance Monitoring

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Now that you understand the basics behind APM, it’s time to look at the more in-depth side. The first change from basic to advanced is end-to-end monitoring. Instead of simple averages, these tools provide precise metrics and traces to help you solve more complex problems.

With end-to-end, you can isolate outliers and trends to dig deep into the root cause. Eliminating the gaps in monitoring coverage also adds more data to your charts, giving you accurate percentiles for service instances. If you’re a developer, then you already know how important advanced composite metrics are for analytics.

Transaction tracing is another advanced feature. The link between user impact and buried bottlenecks are identified via a trace, tying together entire requests. This allows you to view individual requests in real time, view the impact of both upstream and downstream resources on N tiers, and debug your performance impact.

Next, advanced monitoring allow you to track numerous languages and frameworks. Basic models may cover one, two, or three, but when is that ever enough? Developers need to monitor .NET, Ruby, Java, and everything in-between to keep an app running as smooth as possible for the best user experience. Better yet, the latest in APM can do so without the need for manual configuration. Time saved is money saved, right?

Finally, the use of unified dashboards is common in advanced APM tools. This eliminates communication breakdowns between APM and infrastructure metrics, allowing you to cross-reference server, infrastructure, and APM in one location. With your troubleshooting efforts streamlined, finding a solution to app errors becomes an easier, quicker process for everyone involved.

For more information on advanced APM tools, check out: https://www.appoptics.com/application-performance-monitoring

Application Performance Management

The combination of monitoring and management tools allows you track the environments in which your applications run from pre- to post-production. Here’s a short list of what the two can help you manage when used in tandem:

  • Error rates
  • Application type, such as web or background service
  • Performance indicators from response times to satisfaction scores
  • Installed location and the number of server instances
  • Web application traffic and usage
  • Application availability or uptime
  • Deployment history

As you can see, the combination of monitoring and management allows you or your team to fully understand what is happening within your application. Picking up affordable APM solutions and integrating them into a DevOps culture gives development teams everything they need for proper management.

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That isn’t all, though. Incorporating a management solution also allows you to isolate code level performance data. That means long running service calls, slow SQL queries, and other common problems can now be accurately identified. Tracking the performance of all common app dependencies and frameworks is a benefit that cannot be understated.

This aspect of management is often made simple via snapshots or tracing, giving development teams the ability to visualize errors within the app’s code. Isolating individual transactions gives insight to low-level details, explaining exactly what the code is doing as any given point in time. With the right team, that means near immediate solutions for down time and slow running apps.

Why You Need APM

Both ends of APM, monitoring and management, are vital to the success of your app and your dev team. They create a strategy that sets you up for success, resulting in a better user experience and a more hands-on approach to error solving. Sure, you could always cut the corner and go without, but employing APM strategies to your apps is the only way to stand out amongst the competition with a near perfect application.