18 Ways to Ensure Mobile App Performance - Part 4
July 24, 2015
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Mobile apps are serious business, and mobile app performance is key. With this in mind, APMdigest asked industry experts – from analysts and consultants to the top vendors – to recommend the best ways to ensure mobile app performance. Part 4 of the list, the final installment, covers more production solutions such as NPM and ITOA.

Start with Part 1 of the List

Start with Part 2 of the List

Start with Part 3 of the List

14-A. NETWORK PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT (NPM)

You can’t improve what you don’t understand, so it really comes down to metrics. First, establish a quality-of-service baseline and trend data for the entire mobile application stack, from the platform out to the mobile devices. Next, use technology such as network performance management to start monitoring key performance metrics, including: network signal strength, upload throughput, upload latency, upload dropped packets, download throughput, download latency and download dropped packets. Then you must seek to understand how each key performance metric affects the overall experience of using the application so you can quickly detect, alert, pinpoint and troubleshoot a problem in the mobile application stack. For instance, signal strength may cause excessive buffering, while dropped packets may lead to jitter with real-time streaming media.
Michael Thompson
Director, Systems Management Product Marketing, SolarWinds

Monitoring the delivery of content rich, responsive mobile applications is predominantly performed using traditional, enterprise style APM products with the emphasis on application performance, server performance, application dependency mapping, transaction monitoring, using synthetic transactions and monitoring client performance (RUM). Within enterprise environments (where networks have much higher availability, throughput and redundancy than mobile networks) it is now widely recognized that networks are not perfect connectors of applications, servers and clients and that performance and availability problems are often hard to pinpoint as being solely in the application, server or networking domain thus making it difficult to improve performance and to resolve availability issues. When delivering mobile services across dynamic, high latency, low bandwidth mobile networks the need for timely, accurate and complete network management information spanning the full range of networking technologies is essential.
Jeff Roper
CTO, Entuity

14-B. Application-Aware Network Performance Management (AANPM)

Behind every enterprise mobile application is a multi-tier service delivery architecture. The mobile application stack is subject to the same perils faced by traditional web business applications, including network latency and congestion, application chattiness, server resource issues, and database performance. Addressing mobile application delivery issues requires management platforms with broader visibility horizons that include both network and application analytics, which is exactly what Application-Aware Network Performance Management (AANPM) provides. AANPM uses key data points from the network with application-oriented analysis, creating a system with cross-platform visibility and enabling IT to ensure high-performance delivery from the back end of the mobile application stack. AANPM solutions enable IT to quickly locate problems, regardless of their source and solve them as quickly as possible.
Bruce Kosbab
CTO, Fluke Networks

The best way to ensure outstanding mobile performance is to provide high-speed, robust (minimal dropped packets and timeouts) end-to-end network connectivity that includes LTE or high-speed WiFi. The operative words here are "robust" and "end-to-end", which spans from the mobile user to the application server. Assuring subscriber satisfaction means providing application-aware performance intelligence at all points across the infrastructure from the WiFi/LTE access point to the core. Application-performance awareness is important as different applications require varying network performance to deliver acceptable customer experience. For example, the streaming-video experience contrasts with simply downloading a web page. The first requires considerable throughput and is highly latency sensitive while the latter is much more forgiving from a network performance perspective – so long as the page content loads in a relatively quick manner, it's acceptable. But lag and buffering in a streaming video can ruin the whole thing. Augmenting this with backend data center insight including in-depth application payload analysis provides comprehensive service understanding.
Brad Reinboldt
Solution Manager, Network Instruments/JDSU

15. ITOA

Mobile apps are prone to impact from the unintended consequences of change, so the best way to ensure performance is to aggregate as many sources of data as possible – including user experience and usage – and identify abnormal patterns using advanced analytics. By detecting anomalies in datasets, companies are better able to identify problems they wouldn't otherwise have known existed – let alone have been monitoring for.
Mike Paqquette
VP of Security Products, Prelert

16. Reactive Data Layer

Today’s most performant mobile apps are capable of extreme data distribution, speed and scale, coping seamlessly with the huge amounts of heterogeneous data they need to pull from in order to work over the Internet. The best apps can do it without a single hiccup in performance. A reactive data layer is an emerging architecture that developers can leverage to vastly simplify the way an app processes these enormous swathes of data, which are coming from limitless sources in multiple languages. An RDL reduces the data’s complexity by rationalizing it into a single, live data model, allowing for responsive apps that push the envelope of performance.
Sean Bowen
CEO, Push Technology

17. Dynamic Rate Control with Feedback (DRCF)

Mobile application experiences can live or die based on congestion-caused latency and packet loss in the network. With so many congestion spikes occurring in 3G and 4G networks, the user experience is constantly under threat. Our field deployments with mobile operators have proven that the best way to ensure performance is utilizing dynamic rate control with feedback (DRCF) technology to detect data traffic congestion at the cell level and instantly take action that minimizes latency and packet loss.
John Reister
VP of Marketing and Product Management, Vasona Networks

18. MANAGE THE MULTI-SCREEN EXPERIENCE

The top focus of ensuring mobile performance is on optimizing the multi-screen experience. We are only at the beginning of a revolution happening around the mobile device, in many dimensions:
First, wearables, add-ons, fashion gadgets etc. are predicted to proliferate at stunning rates, expanding new user experiences on and around the mobile device. Second, the definition of a mobile device is graying out: users want continuous experience from any screen (/"glass"): their TV, Internet console, mobile device, tablet, iWatch etc. Since the users are sensitive to performance from the device they are using, setting visual KPIs that measure end-to-end response times including backend performance, client side process and rendering, are critical. Naturally, due to the sophisticated, but fragile nature of thick clients running on mobile devices, it is important to measure performance from a variety of screen sizes and hardware restrictions while reproducing real world conditions such as degraded network conditions, resource consumption on the device, access to sensors on the device, unscheduled events (FB message, stock alerts) etc.
Amir Rozenberg
Director of Product Management, Perfecto Mobile

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