Application Performance Monitoring Software:
Features and Capabilities
Applications grow more complex each year. But how should teams manage the mounting complexity of their app environments? APM software is essential for getting complete visibility into the health of your apps, enabling you to quickly identify the cause of an issue. Need a deeper dive into APM?
A quick overview of APM software
Application performance monitoring (APM) software gives you the ability to track, measure, monitor, and optimize the health of your entire application ecosystem. With this comprehensive visibility, businesses can get ahead of performance issues that could otherwise jeopardize the end user experience.
Many IT teams use APM software to identify the root cause of problems like latency, outages, and other availability challenges. Historically, APM tools have given IT teams the ability to stay ahead of these kinds of problems by helping to establish baseline performance metrics for various parts of your environment. However, modern solutions take APM one step further, enabling you to take a proactive approach to managing application performance.
Now let’s take a deeper look at the reasons why IT teams might leverage APM software.
Why use application performance monitoring software?
APM software offers a suite of tools that make the lives of IT administrators easier. With APM, you can detect and resolve issues quickly and efficiently, before they impact the end user. These tools save application teams time by delivering key data and metrics on app health, automating checks on performance, and proactively solving problems as they occur. Here are some other benefits of using APM software:
Stay ahead of mounting complexity in IT environments
As we mentioned earlier (and you probably already know), the needs of applications are ever-changing — whether it’s with innovations in artificial intelligence to help admins gather app data 24/7, or it’s in strengthening application security to detect threats in real time. The result is increasing complexity. This makes APM software a must for maintaining the health of not-so-basic applications and automating processes like continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).
Monitor and measure performance no matter where or when
APM software gives teams a comprehensive look into how applications are performing, no matter where in the world they’re being used, or on what kind of device. This means no more worrying about your end-user’s mobile experience, for example. Say your customers are having trouble adding items to the shopping cart on their phone — this issue can be easily identified and fixed using APM software.
Ensure the reliability of business-critical apps
One of the greatest benefits of having APM software at your disposal is that you can monitor the applications that are most important for your business. Using key business metrics to prioritize your workloads will tell you which issues to address first.
For example, e-commerce companies looking to optimize the digital experience throughout the checkout process can use APM to stay ahead of bottlenecks on the back end. By analyzing and optimizing the health of your environment, you’ll deliver more flawless experiences on the front end. IT teams also stand to benefit from modern APM solutions that provide a view of performance through the lens of the business — this means being able to report on and stay ahead of the transactions your C-suite cares about the most. It’s simple: less downtime and faster load times equals more business transactions.
Deliver a delightful digital experience
At the end of the day, APM tools are very much about delivering the best digital experience to your end user. As any IT person will tell you, the worst way to find out about a problem with your application is from a customer. Even worse? A post on social media that can potentially damage your brand.
But with APM software, IT teams can stay one step ahead of issues and prevent bigger problems from popping up. Fast load times, regardless of device or location, are always expected by the customer. Not to mention, they expect their data to be secure and actively protected from threats. Using tools like synthetic and real user monitoring, you can identify an issue with your app before the customer is even aware of it.
What are the key features of application performance monitoring software?
A well-rounded APM tool can help you troubleshoot a number of application performance issues you may be experiencing. The software will provide performance insights, logs, and metrics to present you with a comprehensive view of your app’s health. Better yet, APM software can help you to resolve any performance issues quickly and efficiently, so you can move on with your day.
Get diagnostics on your code that are immediate and automated. APM tools serve as an early warning system to identify and diagnose issues, and should work with most popular programming languages like Java and .NET. By giving you all the application data you need at your disposal, even down to the individual line of code, these tools help you identify the root cause of problems quickly and efficiently.
Business transaction monitoring
A business transaction is essentially when an end user completes a transaction for your app’s intended use. Want to follow a customer’s purchasing journey from the moment they enter your site to when they’ve checked out? APM software helps you gain a high-level view of your business performance by each transaction, as well as a more granular view into each purchase. Use APM software to determine the average length of a typical transaction, how many errors your customers encountered with the app, and for transaction analysis.
Database visibility helps to provide metrics on how your database is performing, and gives you the ability to troubleshoot performance-related issues. Collect performance metrics on your database instances and servers, and identify sources of latency and server-level errors within your app.
Infrastructure and cloud visibility
With the rise of cloud-based software in the digital sphere, an effective cloud-monitoring strategy is critical. Good APM software gives you essential visibility into all layers of your infrastructure, including the network and servers. With these views, you can monitor the flow of traffic to your app, the health of your organization’s cloud-based assets, connections to the server, crash data, and more. APM’s cloud monitoring features allow you to view metrics at a granular, code level.
What are APM monitoring software capabilities?
Runtime application architecture discovery, modeling, display
Real-time insight into your app’s delivery infrastructure is essential. With application runtime architecture discovery, modeling, and display (also known as bottom-up monitoring), you can create a map of all your application’s components, including external dependencies like third-party APIs, to see how they interact. This capability allows you to easily identify any problems between your app’s components via transaction path snapshots. It allows you to have up/down monitoring in place for all nodes and servers in an app’s environment.
Using automated machine learning capabilities, anomaly detection alerts you when an anomaly occurs during a business transaction. Automated anomaly detection in APM software uses an algorithm to detect any abnormal readings for errors per minute (EPM) and average response time (ART) metrics. It then normalizes the metric data to ensure all readings are accurate before letting you know of any abnormalities. By getting the alerts in real time, you can be prepared to address any abnormalities as they occur instead of losing time trying to locate the issue. Over time, the algorithm learns what constitutes “normal” application behavior and baselines your environment accordingly, helping to reduce alert storms.
Root cause analysis (RCA)
This is the next step after your APM tool has detected any anomalies. Root cause analysis helps you figure out exactly why your application is behaving abnormally, so you can better understand your environment and reduce your mean time to resolution (MTTR). RCA also helps you triage issues to the proper team in your organization so they can be resolved more quickly.
Just like in anomaly detection, AI is also used to automate the analysis of any suspected anomalies, giving you the most accurate picture of what’s causing the issue. Using metrics to identify the fault domain, as well as an analysis of all the affected components, root cause analysis gives you all the information you need to get your app’s health back on track.
End user digital experience monitoring
There’s a reason this capability is placed at the very top of Gartner’s APM Conceptual Framework: Businesses that prioritize the digital experience are more likely to stay ahead of business-impacting events APM tools provide you with two main methods of end user monitoring, depending on your organization’s needs. Synthetic monitoring uses AI to simulate traffic to your app, while real-user monitoring gives you insight into the experience of active users. Both synthetic and real-user monitoring can be used concurrently to quickly identify and resolve any potential issues your users may experience, such as slow load times or crashes.
You can use end user monitoring (EUM) to:
- See where around the globe the majority of your traffic is coming from
- See how quick your end user response times are
- Find out how your app performs for mobile users vs desktop
Some APM tools will also include an experience journey map so you can follow the experience of your users as they navigate through your app (and what issues they may encounter along the way).
End user experience monitoring is one of the biggest benefits of a solid APM tool. Why? Because providing a positive experience to your app’s users means that they’ll come back, and recommend your app to others. A positive user experience sets up your organization for continued growth.
APM software allows you to see the health of your applications through the lens of the business — meaning you can leverage business analytics to put your application’s performance in a business context and see how your customer’s journey impacts your bottom line.
For example, you can see how many active customers are on your site in real time, as well as response time and error rate. You can prioritize custom KPIs for your organization, like conversion rate and abandonment rate, to maximize business performance. Use a transaction flow map to see where customers are experiencing errors, or monitor traffic to your app during a critical campaign or promotion.
Analytics and dashboarding
If you want to really impress the business leaders within your organization, this capability will become an important tool in your arsenalis. APM software analytics can help answer a number of business-oriented questions, like how much potential revenue was lost due to an app failure, or how many of your users were unable to complete a transaction in the past 24 hours because of app performance issues. These are critical questions that APM analytics can provide answers for and present in a way that makes sense to the C-suite, so they can see just how important application health is for business success.
Oganized and comprehensive insights into your application’s performance are not just a nice-to-have. Any good APM software will give you the ability to customize a complete view of your applications no matter the complexity of your environment. You can work with your provider to build out a dashboard that’s best suited for your business.