APM, which stands for Application performance monitoring, tools have become a fundamental part of many organisations that wish to track and observe the optimal functioning of their web-based applications. These tools serve to greatly simplify the process through automation and allow teams to effectively collaborate to maximize efficiency, enabling you to reach the root cause of an issue before it reaches your customers.
However, many users may not be aware of how to effectively operate an APM tool and the extensive range of capabilities that an APM tool can provide for your organization. Therefore, In this article, we will explain some of the best application performance monitoring practices as well as some of the leading APM tools currently available.
To ensure you are utilizing an APM tool to the best of its ability, we will break down a series of application performance monitoring tool best practices.
An appropriate place to start is to verify that you’re tracking and monitoring key application metrics. A common issue that can arise with APM is that the data being tracked doesn’t provide the complete picture. Therefore, it’s vital that you monitor the correct metrics. Some of these key application metrics are:
- Response Times: Measure the time it takes for requests to be processed by tracking page load time and transaction response time.
- Error Rates: Track the frequency and types of errors occurring in the application by measuring error types and error frequency.
- Resource Utilisation: Monitor CPU, memory, disk, and network usage by observing CPU usage, memory usage, disk I/O, and network usage.
- Throughput: Measure the number of transactions or requests processed per unit of time by focusing on requests per second (RPS) and transaction per minute (TPM).
- Latency: Monitor network latency between different application components by viewing network latency and end-to-end latency.
- Database Performance: Analyze query execution times and database resource utilization by monitoring query execution times, database connections, and cache hit rates.
- Concurrency: Track the number of concurrent users or connections by observing concurrent users and concurrent connections.
When an application performance drops or an issue becomes prevalent, individuals in your team need to be updated regarding the impact of the issue before it reaches the customer. Therefore, setting up alerts for an application performance monitoring tool is crucial because you can detect issues early. APM alerting allows you to detect performance issues and anomalies in real-time or near real-time. This early detection is essential for identifying problems before they escalate into critical incidents that impact users and business operations.
Another benefit of setting up alerts is that it will reduce the impact on users. By detecting and addressing performance issues early, you can minimize the impact on end-users. This helps maintain user trust and satisfaction, preventing users from abandoning your application due to slow response times or errors.
Finally, an advantage of setting up alerts for an application performance monitoring tool is that you can harness the potential of these alerts for continuous improvement. APM alerting is not a set-and-forget process. It requires ongoing review and refinement of alerting rules based on changing application behaviour and evolving business needs. This promotes a culture of continuous improvement.
There is currently a wide variety of APM tools available, the majority of them share the same crucial features, which is, monitoring the performance of your organisation's applications. However, each tool has its own set of unique features and capabilities that may align with your organisation's needs. At the end of this article, we will recommend some APM tools to assist in your decision-making, but for now, we want you to grasp the importance of selecting the most appropriate APM tool for your organisation.
When choosing an APM tool you should select the tool that most closely aligns with your technology stack, infrastructure, and business needs. Take this further by evaluating factors like ease of integration, scalability, support for custom metrics, and compatibility with cloud-native architectures. This is vital because the right tool ensures that you can effectively monitor your specific application environment and gather relevant performance data.
When using an APM tool you should aim to achieve a holistic approach and a great method to attain this is to conduct end-to-end monitoring. This is a critical component of APM because it provides a comprehensive view of how an application performs from the user's perspective. A reason why this type of monitoring is invaluable is that it provides a user-centric view. End-to-end monitoring focuses on the user experience, which is ultimately the most important aspect of application performance. This feature measures how real users interact with your application, helping you understand how they perceive its speed, responsiveness, and reliability.
Another example of why end-to-end monitoring is critical is that it supplies real-world insights. End-to-end monitoring provides data on how users from various locations, devices, and networks experience your application. This real-world data helps you tailor your performance optimization efforts to meet the diverse needs of your user base.
Finally, the last reason why end-to-end monitoring is vital as an APM approach is that it provides multi-component visibility. Modern applications often consist of multiple components, services, and microservices. End-to-end monitoring traces requests as they traverse these components, providing insights into how different parts of your application affect overall performance.
Finally, a vital part to acknowledge when incorporating an APM tool is to make certain that the practices adhere to industry-specific regulations and compliance standards relevant to your organization, an example of this is data privacy and protection. Many industries have stringent data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in healthcare. APM practices need to ensure that sensitive user data is handled in compliance with these regulations to avoid data breaches and legal liabilities.
Another important example of ensuring that your organisation's APM approach adheres to compliance and regulations is through incident response and reporting. Compliance often mandates incident response and reporting procedures. APM tools can facilitate incident detection, response, and documentation, helping organizations meet regulatory requirements for reporting security incidents and performance-related incidents.
As stated previously in this article, there is currently a vast range of APM tools available. Whilst they all monitor the performance of your application, many also have additional features that distinguish them from their competitors and may make a specific tool a more appropriate choice for your organisation. For your consideration, some of the best rated tools are included below:
The Logit.io platform offers fully open APM and trace analysis without vendor lock-in or data egress fees. A standout capability of the Logit.io APM platform is that it allows application developers to install code quickly by shortening the time spent on the manual analysis of distributed logs, traces, and metrics. Furthermore, the platform is one of the most cost-effective tools available, meaning you can log all your data without compromise.
Splunk provides an APM solution suitable for monitoring microservices and cloud-native microservice-based applications. The platform assures full fidelity, tracing, AI root cause analysis, anomaly detection, real-time visibility, and discovery and mapping for enterprise-level organisations.
Raygun APM is a performance monitoring platform that provides both real-time and trend applications as well as user experience data performance. Raygun has the capability to identify authenticated users, so you get a view of which specific users encountered problems, and to what extent. The platform also provides support for Ruby, Node.js and .NET, among many other frameworks & languages.