What is APM?
Application Performance Monitoring, or APM for short, describes the use of various metrics to ensure performance monitoring for more complex software. The goal is productivity, faster performance and a better user experience.
Application Performance Monitoring (APM) is a method of performance monitoring . Developers can thus ensure that software remains efficient without users ever having to come into contact with the actual problems and bottlenecks.
Application performance monitoring is often mentioned in the same breath as application performance management , since monitoring and management naturally coincide in order not only to analyze errors, but also to correct them immediately.
What does application performance monitoring include?
Application performance monitoring is a concept that cannot be absolutely outlined. Therefore, it must be clarified in advance what APM should measure and optimize in practice for a company, for a development team and for software.
In practice, this is also a question of what application performance monitoring is actually used for. After all, the performance of a web app must be subject to different measurement points than the performance of a server. For web applications, for example, Gartner Research’s conceptual subdivision is a good standard, as it provides detailed metrics to ensure performance monitoring. Which includes:
- User experience
- Discovery and modeling of the runtime architecture
- Business transaction management
- Monitoring of the individual components
- Data analysis
For other applications, other data sets can be more important, which is also a question of the development status of the software. For example, a performance profile at code level is more relevant in the early stages of the development cycle than for older applications. Server metrics, memory and CPU usage, error codes, performance of the dependencies and performance counters (such as JMX mBeans) also play a role here.
Ultimately, however, every form of application performance monitoring results in monitoring actual use. Finally, software is programmed for the user and evaluated by the user with regard to its performance losses.
Application performance monitoring is also such a difficult process because it has to assess the underlying hardware as well as identify problem areas at the code level. From slow servers to corrupt code in the backend, many sources of error can make an application respond more slowly than expected.
Other relevant metrics and questions are:
CPU and memory usage: How much system resources do apps use and does this affect performance?
Error rates: To what extent do errors occur and do errors accumulate in resource-intensive program parts?
Response time: does the average response time affect the speed of the application?
Number of instances: How many instances are running in cloud-based applications and does autoscale behavior affect performance?
Availability and uptime: How available is a program and does this correspond to the conditions of the user and the profitability of the company?
Garbage Collection: How much data garbage accumulates in programming languages with GC (e.g. Java ) and does this have a negative effect on performance?
Satisfaction and tolerance: How satisfied are users with the performance of the application or how tolerant are they of (possibly) inevitable performance losses?
Find the right application performance monitoring tools
While application performance management has long been the domain of larger IT departments in companies, the corresponding software tools are now so widespread that even smaller teams and individual developers can pay more attention to performance monitoring.
Which tools can be used depends on various factors, including:
- Support of the selected programming language
- Functionality and ease of use
- Price point
- Weighing up between on-premise use and software as a service
- If necessary, cloud support
- Weighting on the use of IT department vs. development
The available monitoring programs include, for example, Stackify Retrace, Scout, TraceView, Dynatrace, Application Insights or Microsoft System Center Operations Manager.
Continuous improvements and faster releases thanks to APM
Application performance monitoring is less about freeing an application from gross errors and sources of crashes, but primarily about improving the user experience (UX) and making it faster to access . Accordingly, APM does not make software more stable, but more powerful and therefore more competitive.
This is particularly relevant in highly competitive segments such as web development. A slow web app for corporate customers can mean that end users drop out due to poor UX. Application performance monitoring is therefore just as important before the release of an application as it is during operation of an application. This is the only way to ensure that the user experience is consistently good, remains good even under changed circumstances or even improves continuously.
Software used at company level must also be subjected to constant and robust application performance management, since underperforming software here simply means a loss of productivity. The task of application performance monitoring is to identify the problem areas so that they can be eliminated in the subsequent management process.