The Application Performance Management (APM) market consists of about 12+ vendors who all provide a variety of functionality for monitoring the performance and availability of applications. Selecting an APM tool can be a daunting task as many vendors provide very similar functionality. However, there are some capabilities that you should pay close attention to as it can make a difference in troubleshooting common issues and those pesky hard to find app issues.
Here are 5 key capabilities to consider when selecting an Application Performance Monitoring solution:
1. View Application Topology
A great APM tool not only depicts the entire application environment including dynamic microservices architecture but allows the user to easily pivot on certain aspects such as application, owner, location or business function. This requires advanced logic to be built into the map such as multidimensional database search and analysis features. A “Most Distinguishing Attribute (MDA)” would allow users to easily distinguish and pivot on a variety of map component and common characteristics but could also reflect characteristics that are unique to only their organization.
For example, if APM determines that a grouping of problems all share the common attribute of a specific AWS zone, MDA would suggest that the underlying problem is related to the AWS zone itself. By leveraging attributes; as customers supply more business-relevant information to APM, the better the analysis an APM tool can provide. This powerful search and analysis feature becomes critically important in those environments that are highly dynamic such as cloud, containers and microservice application architectures. It’s also important in understanding change that has an impact on app performance.
2. Understand Change
Many app issues are caused by a change in the environment such as new build/code, elastic changes, or performance degradations. The tool should be able to show change over time and its impact to performance, helping to speed application triage.
Overlaying change, performance and topology requires an advanced multidimensional database search and analysis feature as mention above. The APM tool should easily depict change, performance and the topological app components in one view along with the ability to be able to view what the performance and components looked like before and after the change occurred.
3. Comprehensive Coverage
With new apps being introduced daily it’s important to have a tool that scales and monitors apps from mobile, web, cloud and containers to the mainframe. APM tools should provide a variety of APIs to input, customize and extract data allowing users the flexibility needed to manage today’s modern apps. With new microservices architectures, APM tools need to adequately scale, dynamically adjust topology views and provide streamline monitoring techniques or agentless approaches that do not burden the resources of the already restricted container environment.
4. Optimize the Customer Experience
Digital transformation initiatives are causing a shift in many organization; forcing alignment across marketing, application owner and IT operations to deliver the best customer journey and experience across various digital channels. Seek an APM solution that combines user behavior (usage, retention, drop off rates, etc.) with performance data (crashes, transaction, CPU, memory, etc.) to optimize for the customer experience across all digital channels.
5. Built-In Intelligence
Many APM users are overwhelmed with the complexity and rate of change in their environment and simply providing better visualizations and tracking of change is not enough to manage applications effectively. Too often it becomes difficult to answer simple questions such as what is the performance and why is it bad? Look for an APM tool that turns data into actionable outcomes using a varying level of intelligence such as pattern recognition, algorithmic baselines, analytics and built-in expertise.
Make sure you select a vendor that meets all five key capabilities to speed triage and improve application performance.
Amy Feldman is Director, Product Marketing, at CA Technologies.