By: IBM Cloud Education

In this guide, learn how Application Performance Management can keep your applications running smoothly and efficiently.

What is Application Performance Management (APM)?

Application Performance Management (APM) is a software-based solution that allows you to ensure that your applications, websites, and other critical infrastructure are running at peak performance. More specifically, APM does the following:

  • Measures application availability and performance.
  • Automates actions to recover from application or infrastructure performance issues.
  • Provides the visibility and tools to diagnose and troubleshoot problems before they impact operations or end users’ experience with the application environment. This includes inefficient disk usage, memory leaks, insufficient hardware resources, network and configuration issues on your databases, application servers, websites, middleware, transactions, and, of course, applications.

The most competitive Application Performance Management solutions can support on-premise, cloud-based, and hybrid workloads, all from a single solution. In today’s world, where data and applications are more portable than ever, it makes sense to invest in a solution that works equally well both on-premise and in the cloud.

Benefits

By embracing digital transformation, your company can provide responsive, customer-oriented service that users have come to demand. While that type of responsiveness is critical to business success today, it requires extremely high levels of application performance and reliability, as well as the ability to keep applications updated.

Applications today are more complex, dynamic, and distributed, and users access these applications on a variety of devices and platforms, each with specific configurations and requirements. These requirements make Application Performance Management software critical because it helps you do the following:

  • Better understand application and infrastructure behavior and performance
  • Improve the end-user experience
  • Improve internal efficiency and productivity
  • Decrease downtime
  • Ensure compliance with application and end-user SLAs
  • Reduce incidents and mean time to resolution for incidents
  • Lower operational costs

Important core functions

While each APM solution has unique features, there are some core functions that all effective APM solutions should have the following:

  • Analytics and visualization: APM software should include the ability to monitor application resources, infrastructure resources, operating systems, log files, APIs, databases, response times, end-user experiences, and transactions. You need to drill down on these to get more granular detail. The dashboard should allow you to monitor a vast array of metrics/KPIs including response times, CPU utilization, disk, and memory utilization, error states, and other critical variables. You will also need role-based access control from the dashboard and reporting capabilities. Ideally, you should be able to customize the dashboard to provide the metrics, measurements, and monitoring required for your specific business.
  • Data import and export functionality: The ability to import data sets from other systems or platforms and export data sets across applications, systems, or platforms is vital for the speed and accuracy of application performance management.
  • API Monitoring: Your organization most likely uses multiple APIs to integrate your infrastructure and applications. All of these interconnections are important to today’s digital businesses, but they require comprehensive monitoring. Complete APM solutions provide both synthetic and real-user monitoring. Synthetic monitoring uses simulations to emulate application behavior, which allows you to test application performance in non-production and production environments. The IBM Garage provides a tutorial that shows you how to create synthetic tests to monitor your web pages, APIs, and user interactions with the IBM Cloud Availability Monitoring service.
  • Alerts: While all APM software allows you to set an array of alerts, the more configurable and intelligent the alerts are, the better. You need to create a variety of alerts to notify you of errors and critical events in development, testing, or production, and you should be able to set up these alerts to notify the right people via mobile alerts, email, or other means. You should also be able to configure alerts to execute pre-configured actions (runbooks) when specified events occur.
  • Application transaction tracing: Your APM solution has to understand how the components of your applications are related to each other and must allow you to view these dependencies on your dashboard. The ability to understand dependencies is critical in identifying and preventing application performance bottlenecks.

DevOps

Recent research shows that 86% of organizations expect that microservices will be the default within five years. This growth in microservices has led to a massive increase in the role of DevOps, as well as the use of containers and platform as a service solutions (PaaS). However, that same survey also found that microservices make it more difficult to identify and troubleshoot application performance issues.

With modern DevOps, it’s critical to find the source of problems quickly, which makes continuous monitoring of key processes a necessity. Because it allows you to troubleshoot issues and isolate problems within the application, APM is the most effective way to streamline the process of building, testing, deploying, and managing software. Using APM for DevOps also helps you identify bottlenecks earlier and foster real-time collaborations between development and operations teams.

An APM solution optimized for your DevOps pipeline should do the following:

  • Provide visibility into performance and availability for the entire application environment
  • Allow API monitoring that focuses on uptime, performance, and data validation
  • Track and display data for all microservices in operation
  • Enable continuous delivery, security, and availability
  • Use analytics to provide actionable insights

If you're interested in learning more about DevOps, microservices, and containers, see these resources:

The future of APM solutions

The adoption of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are already changing customer expectations and business demands. This requires ever-increasing scalability, throughput, and responsiveness, and it demands that your company finds more effective ways to manage and monitor your applications and infrastructure.

Therefore, your APM solutions must evolve to meet these demands, which include:

  • Better root cause analysis
  • Management of different types of application architectures, both traditional and cloud-based
  • Increased use of distributed tracing, where systems can track user interactions with applications, discovering latencies and bottlenecks where they exist
  • Better API monitoring
  • Predictive APM, which will make more use of machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • Simplified monitoring of modern applications

Application Performance Management and IBM

IBM Cloud App Management will help you ensure the reliability of your application environment, providing a comprehensive suite of application management capabilities for every application stage.

Learn how to monitor the performance and availability of both your cloud and on-premises applications with “An Introduction to IBM Cloud App Management.”

Read the Forrester study, “The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM Cloud Application Performance Management.”

Get started with an IBM Cloud account today.

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