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Application Performance Monitoring – Tools and Best Practices
You may find thousands of applications for a single task. However, the success of an application heavily depends on its performance.
Therefore, it’s essential to keep track of how an application performs regularly.
What is Application Performance Monitoring?
Application performance monitoring (APM) is continuously monitoring the performance of software applications to ensure they meet the required performance standards. APM helps businesses track key performance metrics of their applications using different monitoring tools and identify any performance issues affecting app performance.
Nowadays, application performance management has become increasingly complex with emerging application architectures like SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, high usage of microservices and functions, and modern development practices like agile and DevOps. This complex and dynamic nature of software applications is one of the primary reasons behind the popularity of the APM market.
Why is it Worth it to Monitor Application Performance?
Application performance monitoring allows you to have an accurate view of what’s going on with your application as a whole. It also provides you with scores that your application obtains against different metrics. Those scores help to measure your application performance along different grounds.
Metrics such as response times, request rates, CPU and memory usage, server load, application throughput, and server health allow organizations to understand what contributes to the performance or failures of their applications.
Furthermore, these metrics bring clarity and help discover various performance bottlenecks, bloats, memory leaks, unnecessary execution cycles, and slow database queries in your application.
Some APM tools like ScoutAPM even track the root cause of these issues up to the specific code line. Thus, it saves the time developers spend on debugging.
This way, application performance monitoring brings numerous benefits to application owners such as helping resolve performance problems faster, avoiding interruptions, boosting performance, increasing conversion rates, and ultimately offering a great end-user experience.
5 Best Practices for Application Performance Monitoring
1. Ensure that you have selected the right monitoring tools tailored to your needs
There are several aspects you need to consider before choosing an application performance monitoring tool. You should analyze your application requirements, customers, and service level agreements (SLAs). Moreover, you have to consider some factors related to the tool, such as its features, cost, supported programming languages, flexibility, ease of use, technical support, and integration with other tools and services.
Some APM tools will target monitoring minimal yet critical functionalities, while others may surpass your expectations by offering an extensive feature set. So, having a clear understanding of what you expect from these APM tools will help you make the right decision regarding selecting tools.
2. Set proper metrics for monitoring
Application performance management may seem overwhelming with the abundance of available data. Therefore, it is vital to focus on proper metrics for a successful monitoring process. Following are some critical metrics that are helpful for identifying application performance issues.
- CPU usage – Monitor CPU usage to evaluate its effect on performance.
- Error rates – Track how often the app performance fails or degrades.
- Uptime – Track the availability of the application to verify the overall reliability and compliance with service level agreements.
- Response times – Check if the speed is affecting the performance of the application by measuring the average response time.
- Request Rates – Monitor the traffic for your application for spikes in traffic, inactivity, and the active number of users.
- The number of app instances – Monitor the number of app or server instances running simultaneously. You can scale your app with auto-scaling to meet the actual user demand based on that number.
- User experience – You can measure customer satisfaction or tolerance using a combination of SLA thresholds and Apdex scores. Thereby you can understand and improve the user experience.
3. Set up custom alerts and Notifications
Applications may differ in various aspects. Thus, you might need to set up your own custom alerts and notifications based on your requirements. When performance issues arise, team members should be notified about them and understand their impact before the end-user notices anything. APM tools enable you to create custom alert tools by defining thresholds on different metrics such as application response time, error rates, and ApDex score.
In addition to email notifications, some APM solutions even allow you to integrate these notifications with communication platforms like Slack. It helps IT teams to stay updated about performance issues and collaborate easily.
4. Periodically, manually analyze basic and advanced metrics and make conclusions
It is a good practice to manually assess some basic and advanced metrics periodically, rather than solely depending on APM tools. It will help you make some informed decisions regarding the applications that will positively impact your business outcomes.
5. Have a dedicated, responsible person for performance monitoring
You need to make some configurations to APM tools to properly utilize the numerous features they offer. Besides, you will need some hands-on experience and knowledge of the best practices to follow in order to get the most out of these tools. So it would be a wise idea to train an individual on your team on operating these tools and have a dedicated person responsible for performance monitoring.
Developing advanced applications we know how crucial aspect is performance. We advise our customers to plan performance monitoring and optimization matters from the very beginning. Thanks to that, the architecture and used technologies are closely matched to the future needs and scaling of the apps. As it usually happens – it is better to anticipate than to react to later events. CEO, ASPER BROTHERS Contact Me
5 Recommended Application Performance Monitoring Tools
With the growth of APM, many APM tools have been created to make the process more efficient by allowing for real-time and constant monitoring. These tools help IT teams detect anomalies, optimize performance and resource usage, identify trends, and troubleshoot performance problems before they impact end-users. Furthermore, these APM solutions provide you with valuable insights that can be used to the uplift end-user experience and drive business growth.
Following are the five best APM tools available in the market these days.
1. Datadog Real-Time APM
DataDog is a cloud-based infrastructure and application monitoring platform that offers excellent observability for modern applications. It is achieved by searching, collecting, and analyzing traces through distributed architectures. This tool offers a unified view of all your app performance metrics in one location.
Apart from performance monitoring, this tool allows you to analyze and isolate dependencies, reduce latency, remove bottlenecks, track errors, and improve code efficiency to optimize the performance of your application.
DataDog has a simple installation process, and you just need to install the metric collecting agent. Once the agent is set up, it will display all the monitoring metrics and server health through friendly dashboards. This tool provides standard alerts with the ability to reduce alert fatigue by setting conditional alerts using a combination of various metrics, events, and other data sources.
Collaboration is at the heart of DataDog, enabling team members to monitor different parts of their applications together. This APM solution also supports integration with many other tools.
2. SolarWinds Server & Application Manager
This is a reliable performance monitoring solution for virtual servers spread across on-premise, cloud, or hybrid environments. It offers a greater understanding of your server metrics along with application metrics based on your environment.
This tool is a perfect solution for server monitoring as well as infrastructure monitoring. It comes with outstanding features such as automatic monitoring of server services, remote server monitoring, server health monitoring, server process monitoring, and application motoring. It also covers applications, containers, and databases along with alerts and 1200+ dashboards.
3. ManageEngine Applications Manager
Applications Manager is an effective application monitoring solution capable of fulfilling all your tracking and analysis needs. It offers real-time and transaction-level insights into your apps as well as application servers and infrastructure. Furthermore, this APM solution provides statistical data on each component contributing to performance, uptime, and application delivery, enabling you to handle your end-to-end IT operations effectively.
ManageEngine also aids in measuring your application response time by offering comprehensive information for programming languages such as Java, .NET, and Ruby on Rails at the code level. Additionally, this tool helps you measure end-user satisfaction using Apdex Scores.
Manage Engine comes in three editions with excellent features and out-of-the-box support for over a hundred apps. You have to choose the right edition based on your monitoring needs.
Site24x7 is a cloud monitoring solution by Zoho Corporation. With over 10,000 customers worldwide, Site24x7 assists IT and DevOps teams at any scale in troubleshooting issues with their applications and infrastructure.
Site24x7 APM Insight is an application performance monitoring tool that allows you to optimize your application performance in real-time.
On the other hand, Site24x7 APM Insight helps you understand your application behavior and fill the gap between end user experience and application performance, offering a seamless digital experience for your customers.
This is a complete server performance monitoring tool capable of monitoring server metrics and server logs. Dynatrace comes in both SaaS (software as a service) and on-site models with the ability to address most of your monitoring needs.
Dynatrace is relatively easy to set up. It will quickly stream all your performance metrics such as CPU usage, memory allocation, and network health into a user-friendly dashboard. An exciting feature of Dynatrace is the ability to show network metrics at the process level. Apart from monitoring servers, this tool also uses artificial intelligence to gain a deeper understanding of your application architecture, including the availability and performance issues.
This performance monitoring tool is an excellent solution for monitoring your organization’s entire infrastructure spread across multiple clouds with the least complexity and operational overhead.
Most businesses opt for software applications to run their core business functions in this overly digitalized world. Application performance monitoring is critical for ensuring the stable functionality of these applications. Furthermore, it aids organizations in managing their applications efficiently. The end goal of APM is to provide end-users with a flawless user experience.
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