How to Choose the Best Application Performance Monitoring Tool

By TechFunnel Contributors - Last Updated on December 7, 2023
Article is about Application Performance Monitoring Tool

Unplanned application downtimes can cause significant problems for an organization. Whether external, in the case of an MSP, or internal, for a shared services provider, the SLA (service level agreements) with your customers – when unfortunately disrupted – could expose your organization to fines and heavy penalties.

Application performance monitoring (APM) technologies help monitor and optimize an environment with applications for the best, uninterrupted outcomes. The global APM market was valued at $7.9 billion in 2022 and will cross $18 billion by 2030. Choosing the best application monitoring tool is critical for your organization.

Understanding What is an APM Tool

Application performance monitoring (APM) tools assist in the review and evaluation of the functionality, user experience, and overall health of an application. Application developers, IT operation leaders, site reliability engineers, cloud and platform teams, and product owners use them.

They offer data on not just the functionality of your systems but also the underlying reasons for their malfunctioning. APM tools enable the study of logs and metrics to gain deeper insights, unraveling all the details needed for service level optimization.

Contemporary APM solutions are distinguished by their unique arrays of monitoring tools; however, the most optimal ones contain three specific components: end-user monitoring, business-impact analysis, and artificial intelligence.

How do you choose the best tool for application performance monitoring?

Most companies find themselves with a massive sprawl of APM components that either don’t work together or are so riddled with redundancies and duplication that the entire system becomes inefficient. The alternative is to invest in a single-pane-of-glass APM solution that combines visibility into all the right metrics with actionable insights, root cause analysis, and IT collaboration.

When deciding the best application performance monitoring tool for your company, ask the following questions:

  1. Can the APM tool architecture support large-scale data ingestion?

    Your preferred APM solution must have a resilient architecture. Remember that APM is mainly a form of number processing. In seconds, the system has to analyze countless data points to generate meaningful metrics. The scaling capacity of the APM solution must be incorporated into its architecture, and new data sources and metrics must be ingested easily.

    Determine whether the tool depends on multiple subsystems and if the APM architecture poses only one site of failure risk. It should be easy to extend the solution’s functionality through modules and offer a high level of availability via aggregation.

    Inquire about any documented limitations on the tool’s capacity to manage metrics or apps before reaching a purchase decision. Also, inquire whether the architecture relies on third-party subsystems that might act as a “weak link” soon.

  2. Is the APM tool compatible with various programming languages?

    Platforms for tracking application performance must identify and monitor multiple programming languages. Therefore, they may consist of a limited number of languages or many different ones. When looking for the most error-free application performance monitoring platform, it’s prudent to pick a versatile solution that lets the team add additional programming languages, like Ruby, PHP, and .NET, if necessary.

  3. Will the APM tool coexist and co-work with application testing systems?

    Specifics about functional or performance errors are vital, no matter how often the app is executed. Regression or load testing is commonly employed by businesses to determine the effects of testing and implementation on an application. However, the true worth of your testing capabilities lies in the data aggregation capabilities of an APM platform.

    Integrating APM tools with test automation tools is imperative to feed performance data directly into test systems for use case generations.

  4. How easy is using an APM tool and accessing its insights?

    APM tools manage millions of metrics overall. What truly adds value is how these metrics are displayed straightforwardly yet substantially. Therefore, an intuitive, lightning-fast, and easy-to-operate user interface is essential. A reliable user interface becomes critical when looking at the roll-out of round-the-clock monitoring of the APM dashboard.

    It will give IT managers actionable insights into app performance, powering the right interventions at the right time.

    Consider a drill-down feature that’ll facilitate data navigation. The capacity to generate individualized displays and modify the user interface to meet multiple objectives (e.g., senior management, developers, and IT ops’ targets) is also essential.

    Further, the user interface has to be optimized for mobile devices; validate whether it’s a desktop app or a web-based interface. Whatever option you choose, factor in the time and effort needed to restore or upgrade the desktop application.

  5. What kind of customer support can you expect?

    Platforms for monitoring application performance must offer sufficient technical support. It’s advisable to select a platform that provides 24/7 support.

    However, it’s equally imperative to ascertain whether the support system delivers readily available, high-quality documentation. Additionally, to ensure that the general technical support meets the requirements of the business, it is prudent to figure out if the vendor provides a partnership instead of just offering the service. Long-term support can be guaranteed if the vendor undertakes the partner role rather than a supplier.

  6. Are you going down the agent or agentless route?

    Application performance monitoring using proprietary agents is beneficial, focusing on studied, real-time business intelligence. However, this method demands the installation and licensing of individual agents.

    Conversely, agentless monitoring integrates agents directly into the software. Therefore, neither installation nor licensing are stipulations for using this specific service. Nevertheless, its level of efficacy is somewhat lower than that of agent-based monitoring.

    So, consider every aspect before determining which strategy is optimal. Agent-based APM is usually more suitable for large enterprises with a sizable application landscape.

  7. How much will you have to spend on maintenance?

    The setting up a new APM solution is, in many ways, only a starting point; its ongoing maintenance can demand considerable resources and time, along with the initial investment. Although some maintenance is necessary, you can only have one team member devote most of their time to operational needs.

    As a result, before selecting the most suitable performance monitoring tool, establish whether dynamic instrumentation (i.e., app modifications) is feasible or whether each change calls for a “restart.” It should be possible to automate repetitive tasks. An ideal feature is an API or command line interface, which facilitates the development of programs that save time.

  8. How does it detect issues, and can it alert you to issues?

    Remember that the APM solution you deploy is rendered futile if it fails to detect a problem before it intensifies. Based on the ‘learned’ behavior of the application, the APM solution must automatically generate alerts when thresholds are exceeded and be capable of establishing specific metrics as a standard. If applicable, it should also permit you to define a static threshold manually.

    Consider APM solutions that ‘learn’ and respond to application behavior using AIOps. Consequently, the app can automatically notify the user when problems arise. It should be easy to configure static thresholds and customize alerts immediately.

    Essential attributes like multichannel notifications (e.g., text, email) can significantly affect how much value you can unlock from the application monitoring tool. Specific tools even employ AI to “take action” autonomously in response to a threshold violation; for instance, could it reset an example if it observed three consecutive “OutOfMemory” errors?

Conclusion: Shortlisting the Best Application Performance Monitoring Tool

APM ensures significant advantages in decreasing the mean time to respond (MTTR) while improving the brand’s credibility.

After narrowing down your options to two or three providers and running a proof of concept, you’re ready to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of their toolkits. This helps determine which is the best fit. Whenever possible, evaluate APM tools by applying these eight essential considerations we just discussed.

The right tool will not just add to your IT solutions stack, but it will drive observability and make life genuinely easier for your ops managers while improving experiences for the end user.

Read Splunk’s whitepaper on how to redefine application monitoring through DevOps for more APM insights.

TechFunnel Contributors | TechFunnel.com is an ambitious publication dedicated to the evolving landscape of marketing and technology in business and in life. We are dedicated to sharing unbiased information, research, and expert commentary that helps executives and professionals stay on top of the rapidly evolving marketplace, leverage technology for productivity, and add value to their knowledge base.

TechFunnel Contributors | TechFunnel.com is an ambitious publication dedicated to the evolving landscape of marketing and technology in business and in life. We are dedicate...

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