What is Application Performance Monitoring (APM)?

Application performance monitoring (APM) extends observability beyond system availability, service performance, and response times in current, cloud-native contexts. Organizations can improve user experiences at the scale of modern computing by using automatic and intelligent observability.

User experiences in software applications are monitored and managed using APM technologies. Unlike crash reporting, which manages extensive information on mistakes, APM tools highlight issues with your app's server side.

Table of Concepts

  1. What is APM?
  2. Why do we need APM?
  3. Types of APM Tools
  4. What does an APM Tool do?
  5. Benefits of having an APM Tool
  6. End-to-End Application Monitoring with Atatus

What is APM?

The process of tracking critical software application performance parameters using monitoring tools and telemetry data is known as Application Performance Monitoring (APM). It is used by practitioners to assure system availability, improve service performance and response times, and enhance user experience.

Monitoring is commonly used for mobile apps, internet, and commercial applications. Monitoring use cases have expanded to include the services, processes, hosts, logs, networks, and end-users who access these applications — including a company's customers and workers — in today's increasingly linked digital world.

Application performance monitoring is a subset of application performance management, which is a more generic phrase. While application performance monitoring focuses just on measuring an application's performance, application performance management encompasses the larger concept of controlling an application's performance levels, which includes monitoring.

APM software assists in ensuring that a company's critical applications meet pre-determined performance, availability, and customer or end-user experience requirements.

It does so by monitoring application performance, warning administrators when performance benchmarks aren't met, providing visibility into the root causes of performance difficulties, and automatically resolving a variety of performance issues.

Application Performance Monitoring (APM) is the de-facto term for the abbreviation APM. However, in various contexts, developers and laymen use different terms to describe it. Some of the most commonly used full forms include application monitoring, application performance management, application performance, and performance monitoring.

While these terms may differ in scope and emphasis, they all revolve around the central goal of ensuring that applications perform effectively and deliver a satisfactory user experience.

Why do we need APM?

APM may assist the entire team because it is all about using data to understand why problems occur and doing whatever it takes to provide the best possible customer experience. Using a single centralized tool ensures that everyone on the team has access to the same information and can utilize it throughout the development lifecycle, from pre-deployment through production and post-deployment.

  • Customer assistance is delivered more quickly and with higher quality by Support Team.
  • With APM, Developers can better oversee the quality of their work and provide a better customer experience.
  • Load testing can be done by Testers to guarantee that the product is consistent throughout.
  • Before performance issues reach end users, Operations can monitor performance and assure code quality.
  • Product managers may receive a tight feedback loop on how users are adopting new features by using real-time data.
  • Based on the behaviour of production applications, Business Leaders can track crucial business transactions. They'll be alerted right away if there are any performance issues affecting business growth. As performance issues are resolved faster, the MTTR (Mean Time to Resolution) is reduced.

Types of APM Tools

APM tools can be classified into many sorts based on what they do,

1.) APM Tools based on App Metrics

These APM solutions collect several app and server-related metrics. The tool then uses this information to discover which of your application's URL requests are taking too long. However, because they don't profile the application's code, these tools can't tell you what's causing the slowdown. (Popular APM tools rarely monitor simply application metrics.)

2.) APM Tools Based on Code Profiling

These APM tools perform code profiling and transaction tracing, which can help pinpoint the source of a performance problem. Many prominent APM solutions profile various code types using domain-specific artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches. When combined with application analytics, they aid in determining the root cause of any performance issue.

3.) APM Tools with a Network

These APM tools focus on network traffic to monitor application performance. Only a few APM tools can handle this because it necessitates very specific methodologies. As a result, a new product category called Network Performance Monitoring has emerged.

What does an APM Tool do?

Examining the process might help you grasp APM in practical terms. The following is a broad breakdown:

  1. Checking to determine whether programmes are acting normally.
  2. Recognizing a problem is the first step towards solving it.
  3. Reporting the issue to IT.
  4. Data collection and analysis to put app performance into perspective.
  5. Adapting the application environment to prevent recurrence of similar problems.

APM systems track practically every piece of data that affects application availability, all with the objective of enhancing the app for the company that uses it. Consider it a better approach to view the overall picture—and to rectify it before your consumers detect any errors.

Benefits of having an APM Tool

HTML Table Generator
Category Technical Benefits Business Benefits Soft Business Benefits
Increased Visibility - Increased application stability and uptime
- Reduced number of performance incidents
- Improved developer and operational productivity
- Increased time spent on innovation
- Improved collaboration across teams
Faster Problem Resolution - Faster resolution of performance problems - Better user experiences
- Increasing revenue
- Enhanced team satisfaction and retention
Improved Release Quality - Faster and higher-quality software releases - Reduced operational costs
- Increasing conversion rates
Optimized Infrastructure - Improved infrastructure utilization

Application Performance Monitoring Software's Useful Features

The collecting of a large amount of data on how the programme functions is at the heart of every APM tools. Developers, on the other hand, require more than simply data to obtain useful insights. The APM must display the data in context so that you can quickly identify the root cause of the performance issue.

Some of the most useful functions enabled by APM software are listed below,

1. App Dependencies' Performance Should Be Monitored

A problem with one of your application's dependencies, such as the database, cache, web server, or a third-party service, might cause it to be sluggish. For Example, a sluggish database query or server might degrade the overall performance of your programme.

External HTTP web services and cache issues might also result in the same result. As a result, it's crucial to keep track of not only the programme but also all of its dependencies.

2. Measure the Performance of App Requests

At the heart of every APM tool is the ability to measure the performance of each request and answer. They are referred to be a transaction when they are combined.

Knowing this can assist you in determining the most often accessed queries in your application, the slowest ones, and the ones you should concentrate on in order to optimise your application's speed.

3. Application Log Data

When something goes wrong in production, the first thing a developer will say is "give me the logs." When developers' apps are launched, log data becomes their eyes and ears.

Developers require log access via a centralized logging solution, such as a log management package. Fortunately, Retrace includes log management as an APM tool. Most APM systems do not provide the most important item that developers want to view their logs.

4. Performance is measured at the Code Level

Knowing which request or transaction isn't working is only the first step. It's also crucial to figure out why it's functioning so well. An APM tool can help you acquire helpful insights into the code that causes your application to run poorly by profiling it at the code level.

5. Monitoring the Use of Server Resources

It's critical to keep an eye on your server's CPU and memory utilisation, especially if you want to auto-scale your application based on traffic. It's also important to pay attention to how a vendor conducts server monitoring for this function, taking into consideration issues like design and usability, and determining how it might effect your organisation.

Although the differences in each platform's basic server monitoring offering may look minor, they will have a big influence on how your team interacts with that platform.

6. Real User Monitoring (RUM)

Although all applications require the use of a server, not all applications require the use of users. Real user monitoring (RUM) is a sort of passive monitoring that tracks and evaluates every action a user takes on an application using both client-side and server-side metrics.

RUM records and aggregates every page a user visits and every button they click in the case of a web application, letting you to evaluate the total impact of their activity. It may measure everything from the speed of a network request to the efficiency of underlying database queries, depending on the capabilities of the underlying APM programme.

APM firms that specialise in user-centric application monitoring, which often takes the form of mobile and online apps, frequently offer RUM.

7. Alerts and Load Testing

Every application does not require scalability. Internal tools and specialised products usually avoid load testing. Large-scale consumer applications, on the other hand, require load testing and resource consumption monitoring due to their high availability.

While load testing is important in these systems, the APM platform's major value derives from the data it collects. Scalability and long-term planning can be aided by identifying trends across application architecture at varying load levels.

8. Errors in Application

The last thing we want is for a user to contact us and say that our software is giving them an error or that it is just crashing. As developers, we must be aware of when this happens and keep an eye out for it. Errors are the first line of defence when it comes to identifying application issues.

We need to detect and repair the mistakes, or at the very least be aware of them, before our consumers phone to complain, since the chances are that they won't even call to complain. They'll simply move on to another location.

9. Support for Custom Metrics

Last but not least, each application is unique. That implies the developers have to keep track of stuff that other businesses or consumers don't need to know about every now and then. While traditional server and application metrics are valuable, an APM tool may provide much more value if you can create your own custom metrics.

You may use your APM custom metrics to see how many log messages are received per minute or how long it takes for a significant action in a queue to be processed. This sort of custom measure should be straightforward to create and track using your APM.

10. Metrics for the Application Framework

Server metrics such as CPU and RAM are interesting, but application metrics may be far more useful for actual application performance monitoring for developers. Garbage collection, request queuing, transaction volumes, page load times, and other metrics must all be monitored by developers.

Windows Performance Counters and JMX MBeans may be monitored by developers. It's also important to keep an eye on services like Redis, Elasticsearch, SQL, and others for essential metrics.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to debugging application performance issues, an APM tool makes it simple to discover the needle in the haystack. Furthermore, the APM tool will proactively monitor the code, requests, answers, user experiences, and other aspects of your applications.

It's easy for businesses to get wrapped up in the inner workings of their technology and lose sight of the application's fundamental purpose: to serve the business. You'll be astonished if you make APM a driver of successful business operations. The rest will take care of itself.

End-to-End Application Monitoring with Atatus

Atatus offers real-time application monitoring solutions to track and enhance the performance of your frontend, backends, logs, and infrastructure applications. Our technology can collect millions of performance data points from your apps, allowing you to swiftly rectify problems and provide excellent digital user experiences.

Atatus Application Performance Monitoring (APM) may benefit your business by providing a full picture of your application, including how it works, where performance bottlenecks occur, which users are most impacted, and which faults damage your frontend, backend, and infrastructure code.

Try Atatus for 14 days for free.


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Sindhu is a Content Writer at Atatus. She's a lifelong learner with a curiosity to learn new things.