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What is Application Performance Monitoring (APM)?

Wendy Dessler Outreach Manager / AppOptics
Learn more about detection and tracking methods of your app, and how to make more out of it.
What is Application Performance Monitoring (APM)?

Everyone in development knows that application performance monitoring (APM) is essential for success. The user experience depends on app performance, and a poor user experience means fewer users. Within an organization, the various applications used need to run smoothly to keep employees engaged and productive.

Beyond face value, how does APM alter productivity? How does APM play into DevOps to improve business? Read on to find out.

APM basics

In essence, Application Performance Monitoring is a detection and tracking method for ensuring everything is working as it should. For an organization to effectively track and monitor application performance they require three key components: an adequate tracking system, knowledgeable individuals to analyze the data, and key performance indicators (KPIs) to act as a success metrics.

At a base level, APM could be something like a tool to regularly test your application’s loading time. A more well-rounded approach to APM includes monitoring CPUs, looking at error rates, and monitoring traffic while taking a proactive approach to identifying potential issues. More evolved systems integrate with various languages and frameworks, trace transactions, and give in-depth insights to ensure problems are detected and corrected quickly. See this source: application performance monitoring & alerting | AppOptics.

APM meets DevOps

DevOps has a lot of moving parts that together aim to simplify the development and launch of new applications, finding common ground between project management teams and software developers. As APM helps simplify the performance management process, it plays directly into the DevOps culture.

Having a strong understanding and process for APM decreases the time it takes to trace problems and track down the right flow for the DevOps processes. Using a centralized APM tool adds another bridge between the development team and operations team for communication, removing ambiguity and streamlining problem-solving efforts. In doing so, an organization reduces the need for back and forth between the teams, improving productivity in a way that’s in congruence with the DevOps philosophy.

Error tracking and productivity

Human resources are deemed as such for a reason: people are the business’ most valuable resource. As an organization grows, the stakes get hire. Applications are assets, and downtime can be a drain on resources = in terms of people, time, and money. It makes sense then, that improving error tracking efforts an organization can improve productivity as fewer resources are being applied to the problem. The more efficiently the problem is fixed, the better the productivity of the business.

This is one of the main reasons that implementing powerful APM tools and metrics is so essential. Organizations that refuse to invest in this area are failing to assess the opportunity cost before making a decision. While implementing these processes may require a significant of resources upfront, the return on investment makes itself apparent later on.

How to improve productivity with APM

Perhaps you already have the right APM tools and competent individuals in place to improve your overall business operations, but lack the knowledge of how to create procedures that will make it possible. Here are some of the ways you can improve productivity with APM.

Monitor things outside of your control

While being in charge of applications may make you feel like you are in complete control, that’s not always the case. There are always external factors to consider when monitoring application performance. You see this often when there’s high demand for a once-in-a-lifetime concert or event, and the ticketing website crashes because of an unforeseen influx of traffic.

You can’t control all the variables, but you can control what happens as a result and what processes are put in place to deal with these issues in the future. Learning from your mistakes or shortcomings is one way you can improve productivity in all areas of your business, beyond APM.

Put yourself in the user’s shoes

Our modern society has a very limited attention span. It only takes a couple errors for a user to get frustrated and uninstall your application or walk away from your website, never to visit again. One way to remain productive is to always put yourself in the user’s chair; user experience is the heart and soul of your application.

Constantly strive to do right by the user. Maintaining this philosophy with a DevOps approach will ensure that the workflow remains smooth and sustainable with the end user in mind.

Identify key performance indicators and goals

Beyond identifying what metrics should be assessed for monitoring, it’s also essential that you assign target numbers and goals to hit. For example, an ideal loading time and user duration targets. In regards to error tracking, you might have an error threshold or a time goal for correction. These numbers give team members something to strive toward and help identify if a part of the APM process is not working as it should.

Automate when possible

Don’t just identify and track system errors - set up your APM tools to take corrective action and set alerts. Alerts can identify when the shadow of a problem arises, so you know where to turn your attention for course correction. Create automation that will change your app when specific problems are identified, to act as a band-aid while you focus your attention on solving the route problem. These methods keep you on track while ensuring the user remains unaffected.

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