What does APM stand for? On the one hand, it is application performance monitoring, which is the monitoring of the software applications provided by your business. On the other hand, it is application performance management, which is the management of the software applications provided by your business. These two work hand-in-hand to ensure your web apps and other apps are not only always available but are also always performing at their peak. If you’re going to have any control over your business apps, then you need to know what you should measure and how to interpret the results you get.
What is Application Performance Monitoring and Management?
Applications have evolved a great deal from the standalone packages of the 1990s and early 2000s what they are today. We have client-server apps, cloud-based apps and even distributed apps, all of them running in very complicated ways. In such a world, application management has had to keep up.
Whenever we speak of application performance management, we are talking about the management of applications such that we know when their behavior is normal and when it is abnormal. We should also be able to figure out the root cause when something does go wrong and solve the problem quickly.
There are many aspects of an application that we can observe at any given time:
- The hardware the application is running on
- The virtual machines the application is running on
- In the case of a web app, the container the application is running in
- How the application is behaving
- Any supporting infrastructure, such as legacy systems, external web services, caches, databases, network communications and so on
We would ideally get performance metrics from each of these sources and then correlate and interpret those metrics in terms of how they impact the transactions of our business. This is where APM comes in handy. The most reputable APM vendors out there will hire the very best experts in the different fields of technology to get a deep level of understanding of each performance metric involved in every system. They will then use this understanding to draw an accurate but unified and easy-to-understand picture of your system.
Once you have this picture, you can use it to compare the performance of your application against what is supposed to be normal. All in all, APM software carries out one or more of the following functions:
- It collects performance metrics across the entire environment of your application
- It interprets those metrics in the context of your business
- It analyzes those metrics against what is normal
- It collects relevant information when it detects abnormalities
- It alerts you of abnormal behavior
- It tells you how to react and adapt to abnormal behavior
What Makes APM So Important?
How do you explain the importance of APM to someone who doesn’t have a tech background, such as your chief financial officer or chief executive officer? The best way to see why APM is so important is to think about how life would be without it. If you don’t have APM, what would you do with your applications? You would probably either try to troubleshoot manually or wait for the customer care calls to start flooding in. You could also build synthetic transactions. These are transactions that you use to measure the performance of your application by executing them against it.
That does not solve the problem, however, as there are many factors not considered. It could work on your machine and not anywhere else. It might malfunction when you’re out of the office, and you might also have no idea what to do when you detect a problem with your system. You won’t even know if it’s a problem to get worried about or something that is a normal part of the system. Also, detecting a problem is only one aspect of the solution. Now you need to figure out what the root of the problem was. How do you figure that out quickly without APM software?
Of course, there are other options you have, but the fact is, most companies that don’t have APM software only know of a problem when the customers start to complain. That is not right.
You could potentially try to figure out the root cause of the problem by reviewing runtime logs or trying to recreate the anomaly in a test environment. However, this might not work when the problem isn’t the kind that throws an exception. In that case, you will just be confusing yourself further.
To put it in summary, APM is crucial to you if you want to understand the behavior of your system and detect and resolve problems in good time. It will help your business to become more efficient and improve customer satisfaction and your overall profitability.
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