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A Practical Overview of APM Tools

By: Simone Sandler
  |  May 1, 2023
A Practical Overview of APM Tools

In today’s tech-savvy world, apps not only add value to your brand but are also required to deliver fast responses and real-time problem solving with 24/7 availability. If your business relies on software applications for day-to-day operations, application performance monitoring (APM) is critical. APM tools allow you to pinpoint performance issues quickly, ensuring peak app performance.

What is Application Performance Monitoring?

APM is the practice of leveraging telemetry data and monitoring software to track your app’s critical performance metrics. These software tools help you understand app performance, troubleshoot usability issues and optimize resource usage, and may also help you ask for feedback from users. By utilizing APM tools constantly, you can easily see whether your apps meet performance standards and requirements and deliver a valuable user experience.

APM tools not only track your app’s availability and performance, but also help you deliver a productive and positive end-user experience. A good APM tool provides the data you need to troubleshoot, isolate and mitigate issues that can limit your app’s performance if left unchecked. The best APM tools provide actionable insights to optimize your app and guarantee performance, business growth and customer satisfaction.

Application Performance Monitoring vs. Application Performance Management

APM always gets confused with application performance management, but they differ. Application performance management is a broader process that entails managing your app’s overall performance, including its code, transaction times, dependencies and user experience.

APM is a smaller but critical part of application performance management. Through alert notifications, monitors point out issues that need to get resolved. Conversely, app performance management takes things a step further. It uses the alerts sent out by the APM tool to show you where and when users encounter problems while using your app.

For instance, the APM tool alerts you when users aren’t accessing your app. On the other hand, an application performance management tool helps you understand the causes and implement measures to address the issue. Therefore, it’s advisable to deploy APM and application performance management tools concurrently to gain visibility into your apps’ performance. It will also be easier for your team to pinpoint trends and respond when similar issues arise in the future.

What Performance Metrics Do APM Tools Measure?

Tracking your app in real-time is the key to optimizing it and supporting the user journey. APM tools work by:

  • Monitoring whether your apps are working as they should
  • Alerting you when apps don’t and collecting data about the source of the problem
  • Analyzing the data to determine how the downtime impacts the customer experience and your business
  • Adapting your app environment to pinpoint and mitigate similar issues before they affect the business
APM tools deliver great value as a critical piece of your app performance management strategy

Comprehensive APM tools track and aggregate data on almost all aspects of your apps. Some of the app performance metrics that APM tools monitor are included below.

CPU Usage

APM tools monitor CPU usage, disk write/read speeds and memory demands at the server level to ensure that usage has little or no impact on app performance.

Response Times

During downtime, the speed at which you respond goes a long way in helping to restore normal operations. Average response time is an app performance metric that indicates whether speed affects your app.

Error Rates

APM tools track how often your app’s performance fails or degrades at the software level. For instance, you’ll know how often web requests result in errors during memory-intensive processes such as searching a database.

Number of Instances

If you deploy elastic, cloud-based apps, it’s best to know about the number of app or server instances you have running. To achieve this, you may want to use APM tools that support auto scaling and help you to scale your app accordingly to meet user demand.

App Availability/Uptime

This performance metric monitors whether your application is online and available. Most people use this metric to monitor compliance with service-level agreements.

Request Rates

You can only optimize your app’s performance if you know how much traffic it receives, the number of concurrent users, spikes and inactivity. To do this, you need to monitor the app’s request rates.

Customer Satisfaction

Undoubtedly, this is the most critical performance metric. It measures how users feel about using your app.

Given that application performance monitoring entails tracking data across multiple silos, you need an APM tool that correlates the data into one dashboard. This will save you from the hassle of building synthetic monitors or browsing individual event logs whenever there are problems with your app.

Why are APM Tools Essential? 

Every business that uses an app in day-to-day operations should undertake the constant use of APM tools. They provide enhanced intelligence and visibility into your app’s performance. APM tools offer technical, soft business and tangible business benefits. 

The technical benefits of APM include increased app stability and uptime, faster resolution of performance issues, reduced performance incidents and better infrastructure utilization. The tangible business benefits of APM include improved operational and developer productivity, better user experiences, higher revenues, lower operating costs and higher conversion rates. 

Deploying APM tools may also offer soft business benefits in the long run. For starters, it will be easier for your teams to collaborate. An APM tool is an excellent source of insights that your operations and development teams can leverage to align easier and faster when problems arise. 

Tips for APM Tool Success

Application performance monitoring is only as good as the people, processes and tools behind it. For this reason, it’s best to choose the right tools, create the appropriate rules, and train the right people to manage your APM initiatives. Furthermore, everyone within your organization should understand the relationship between app performance and business success. 

Key Takeaways

Given that modern businesses deploy many technologies, it’s easy to lose sight of app performance. Your apps play a significant role in helping you deliver your services, and their performance needs to get monitored constantly. Doing so helps you avoid downtime and deliver quality customer service.

Making APM a critical aspect of day-to-day operations guarantees app availability, seamless user experiences, and ultimately, higher revenues. Since APM is always evolving, it’s essential to keep up with the changes and industry best practices. An easy way to do that is by investing in an APM tool with solid support from the vendor team.

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