What is Application Performance Monitoring?

Posted on by Aaron Binders | Updated:
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Application performance monitoring (APM) brings valuable solutions that companies can use to monitor if their IT environment fits into preferred performance standards. They can also identify issues or potential bugs and provide better user experiences by controlling their IT resources.

In simple terms, application performance monitoring is anything related to monitoring your app or site’s performance. 

For instance, the primary tasks of some tools are to check your site every minute to verify:

  • How long it takes for your site to load.
  • If your site is online.

Of course, this is the simplest variation of APM. Later on, we’ll focus on some more complex tasks these tools cover.

The Difference Between Monitoring and Management

Using the right APM solution provides valuable information on how IT teams can connect overall application performance to the final business outcomes or fix performance problems before impacting real users. In theory, it should reduce the mean time to repair (MTTR).

Let’s not confuse APM with application performance management, though. This is the strategy of managing overall performance excellence. It’s broader and contains more areas of focus, with monitoring as only one of them.

For instance, checking if your app works at all only tells about potential issues that occurred. Application performance management brings a broader context of solving disruptions and improving user experience quality in general.

Some of the things development teams need to manage and track when it comes to their applications are:

  • Traffic and usage of web applications.
  • App types (web, background service, etc.).
  • Performance elements (satisfaction score, response time, etc.).
  • Application uptime.

So, comprehensive APM solutions tell you where and when users get affected during their journey and why some issues occurred. They bring great value for IT teams because they open a way for proactive reactions and faster remediation in future work.

All in all, APM in terms of management includes proactive strategies. Simultaneously, monitoring refers to a set of reactive mechanisms one needs to solve application performance issues or bugs that occurred. 

What Do You Measure and Track With APM Solutions?

APM tools check if your apps are behaving normally and detect early warning signs that may cause further problems. They also observe real-time user sessions and simulate them to find problems before they occur. Data is collected about the source of the issue to alert IT staff. These tools adapt your app environment to identify and fix similar disruptions before there’s a chance for them to impact the business.

Here are some of the valuable metrics APM tools provide:

  • Error Rates: APM solutions also track how often your app fails, like when web requests are in an error state or go through memory-intensive processes such as digging through your database.
  • Response Times: Tracking your average response time means having insight into metrics that show if the speed is somehow affecting your app’s performance.
  • App Availability/Uptime: You can monitor an application and check how much time it’s available online.
  • Request Rates: These requests measure how much traffic your app gets.
  • Customer Satisfaction and User Experience Monitoring: Boosting the user experience is the essential goal of every business. For instance, an APM solution can include Apdex scores - a numerical measure that tracks the performance of applications, and thereby, the overall user experience. By tracking this, you get familiar with and deal with errors, downtime, or slowness. Two ways to do that are to synthetically simulate user transactions and test them proactively or analytically monitor the user experience of real-time visitors.
  • Transaction Tracing: This refers to instrumenting byte-code while the app is still running and analyzing the flow of your transaction. That way, you can see what caused the slowness or other errors.
  • App Code-Level Diagnostics: When you realize your business transaction is slow, the app developer needs to know if there are potential issues with the app code. This happens to be the root of 43% of performance problems. However, tracing the entire process helps pinpoint the needed line of code and fix the slowness problem.
  • Infrastructure Monitoring: Sometimes disruptions can occur in your app infrastructure, so having tools that will provide you with detailed visibility of the performance on all levels is a must. APM checks memory demands, disk read/write speeds, and overall CPU usage at the server level, determining if the usage affects application performance.
  • Garbage Collection (GC): Term garbage collection stands for a form of automatic memory management. When you have an app written in Java or some other programming language with GC, you know about issues that may appear from its heavy use of memory. Increased memory usage is an overlooked factor but needs your attention.

How To Successfully Use an APM

APM used to be an optional addition, but it has become a must-have in the IT toolbox over time. In this section, we’ll talk about how to build up your APM skills and maximize the benefits of using this tool.

Get the Right Tools

Since the market is loaded with different APM options, it may be challenging to find the one that will suit your needs best. You want a solution that will:

  • Monitor the complete infrastructure stack.
  • Monitor general performance at the code level.
  • Show you the connection between app performance and outcomes.

Create Precise Rules

APM tools work best when you configure them to meet the specific challenges of your business. Create rules for monitoring disruptions based on how a normal app should behave.

Train Internal Users

Your key players in the APM implementation process are internal users. They are supposed to know how the application works inside and out and provide developers with valuable feedback to help them solve issues once they arise.

Skilled information technology staff, the collaboration between departments, understanding the relationship between application performance and business outcomes all maximize APM benefits and lead to long-term overall success.

Conclusion

Your apps are supposed to ensure satisfaction amongst end-users and boost productivity for both partners and employees. APM is a set of tools that gets that part together and helps with tracking the overall performance of your sites and apps.

The more you know about how your system operates, the better services you can provide to your customers. That’s where Liquid Web jumps in with 100% uptime, fully-managed hosting. 

Want to hear more? Our Support Teams, System administrators, and excellent Linux technicians are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for all questions you may have. Not sure which solution matches your needs? Check out our products page and reach out today via phone, support ticket, or live chat with any questions!

About the Author: Aaron Binders

Aaron Binders works as a Linux Support Technician at Liquid Web and focuses on resolving server-side customer issues. When not spending time with his family, he has a passion for sports such as football and boxing, as well as reading the latest ICT magazines.

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