Resource Monitoring vs. Application Performance Monitoring (APM)
How Middleware Resource Monitoring is Different from APM
November 14, 2016

Ted Wilson
SL Corporation

Share this

Is middleware resource monitoring the same thing as APM? No – but it is highly complementary with APM and organizations generally need both for complex, large-scale application environments that depend on middleware.

End to end resource monitoring is fundamentally different.


We see four general categories in the enterprise monitoring landscape:

1. Low level infrastructure monitoring, often open source or low-cost

2. Domain-specific admin and monitoring tools including database, server, log, and vendor-specific tools

3. Application-aware resource monitoring of infrastructure

4. APM, including transaction tracing and end-user monitoring

APM, and especially transaction monitoring, has its place. It is an important capability for some types of users such as developers who need to understand the behavior of their transactions and how they are performing. It is also very good at identifying code-based problems. If your problems are in the code, then APM can help. But what if the problem is not in the application itself but the infrastructure that supports that application? Most application performance issues are not code-based problems.

Oftentimes, the problems lie in the middleware tiers, servers and other resources. These are equally as important to monitor.

The Complexity of Middleware

Middleware components are usually distributed, clustered and shared across multiple services and applications. Many organizations use middleware provided by multiple vendors across multiple tiers, on-premise, in the cloud, or hybrid. And a single middleware technology, such as TIBCO EMS, requires real-time and historical metric gathering for the EMS Servers, topics, queues, and destinations to really understand performance. An effective monitoring system will also provide information about other interdependencies. Is a problem with pending messages really occurring because of a CPU issue with a VMware host?

This all makes holistic monitoring tricky. So when an application problem lies in a middleware tier, your application support and middleware support teams require specialized tools to proactively identify the problem before the application is affected. If they are relying on end user or transaction monitoring for this type of problem, chances are the middleware components are going to be a black box. APM tools just don’t provide adequate visibility into the middleware.

So before you increase spending on APM tools, be sure you have the middleware tier covered and those support teams have the tools they need to be proactive in resolving the infrastructure level problems.

Ask yourself how you solve the majority of your Sev 1 incidents today. Are you using tools that help you understand the performance of your clustered middleware? Or are you using tools that help you understand your transactions and transaction throughput? The answer may help you in prioritizing your monitoring investments.


Ted Wilson is Chief Operating Officer at SL Corporation.

Share this

The Latest

May 25, 2017

According to most industry perceptions, application performance management (APM) and application portfolio management (APM) might seem to be worlds apart — or at best connected by a very thin thread. In this blog, I'd like to highlight three areas that are bridging the APM-to-APM divide: digital experience management, application discovery and dependency mapping (ADDM), and agile/DevOps lifecycle planning ...

May 24, 2017

In today's digital world, it is possible to gauge the cost implications of an IT outage on employee productivity, revenue generation but it is usually much more tricky to measure the negative impacts on the very IT people's lives ...

May 22, 2017

APMdigest asked experts across the industry for their opinions on the next steps for ITOA. Part 5 offers some interesting final thoughts ...

May 19, 2017

APMdigest asked experts across the industry for their opinions on the next steps for ITOA. Part 4 covers automation and the dynamic IT environment ...

May 18, 2017

APMdigest asked experts across the industry for their opinions on the next steps for ITOA. Part 3 covers monitoring and user experience ...

May 17, 2017

APMdigest asked experts across the industry for their opinions on the next steps for ITOA. Part 2 covers visibility and data ...

May 16, 2017

Managing application performance today requires analytics. IT Operations Analytics (ITOA) is often used to augment or built into Application Performance Management solutions to process the massive amounts of metrics coming out of today's IT environment. But today ITOA stands at a crossroads as revolutionary technologies and capabilities are emerging to push it into new realms. So where is ITOA going next? With this question in mind, APMdigest asked experts across the industry — including analysts, consultants and vendors — for their opinions on the next steps for ITOA ...

May 15, 2017

Digital transformation initiatives are more successful when they have buy-in from across the business, according to a new report titled Digital Transformation Trailblazing: A Data-Driven Approach ...

May 11, 2017

The growing market for analytics in IT is one of the more exciting areas to watch in the technology industry. Exciting because of the variety and types of vendor innovation in this area. And exciting as well because our research indicates the adoption of advanced IT analytics supports data sharing and joint decision making in a way that's catalytic for both IT and digital transformation ...

May 10, 2017

Colin Fletcher, Research Director at Gartner, talks about Algorithmic IT Operations (AIOps) and the challenges and recommendations for AIOps adoption ...