In today’s technology-driven world, applications are the lifeblood of businesses and the cornerstone of user interactions. From e-commerce platforms to social media networks, flawless application performance is no longer a mere expectation but a fundamental requirement for user satisfaction and business success.
However, lurking beneath the surface of seemingly smooth operations lie potential pitfalls that can quickly transform a positive user experience into a nightmare. This is where having a robust application performance monitoring (APM) and observability solution comes in handy.
Selecting the right solution amid the myriad of options can be challenging. The market offers a variety of real-time application performance monitoring tools, ranging from closed-source to open-source, cloud to on-premises, and paid to free. To make an informed choice, it’s crucial to consider your specific business needs. This blog explores key considerations for choosing application performance monitoring software for your IT infrastructure. Ready to dive in?
What to look for in application performance monitoring tools?
Before selecting the right application performance monitoring and observability solution, organizations should understand their infrastructure. This involves assessing the types of applications and technologies they use, considering factors like the user volume and transaction complexity.
The following are some criteria that will help you define your requirements clearly before and while reaching out to providers of application performance management tools:
a) Value and scalability
Determining whether you will use the solution in the short or long term is fundamental to all other business considerations. For instance, your immediate needs may not prioritize scalability, but it becomes a crucial factor for long-term use.
When determining the suitability of software for either short-term or long-term needs, one of the initial considerations should be: “What is the feasible investment for this, and does the software justify the expense?” It’s essential to evaluate the financial impact meticulously, ensuring that the chosen solution not only fits within your budget constraints but also offers a cost-effective means of monitoring application performance.
c) Skill set alignment
Skill set alignment is critical for overcoming a major hurdle in end-to-end APM solution adoption: a lack of training. Providing your IT team with a comprehensive understanding of modern application infrastructure is essential before integrating an APM solution. This approach equips the team with the skills to proactively manage performance issues, fostering optimized application performance and a smoother adoption process.
d) Success criteria
Defining clear success criteria for an APM tool is a vital business consideration as it sets measurable benchmarks for performance and the user experience. Success criteria may include a reduced mean time to resolution (MTTR), improved application response times, and enhanced system availability. Aligning these criteria with your business objectives will help ensure that the APM tool directly contributes to organizational goals.
e) Product support
Consider product support and maintenance to be critical aspects even before choosing your application performance monitoring tool. Since investing in such a tool is typically a long-term commitment, it’s essential to ensure that the vendor has your back.
Dive into product reviews, assess the availability and effectiveness of the vendor’s customer support (is it 24/7 or region-specific?), and understand its operational methods. Additionally, inquire about the frequency of product enhancements and security updates to gauge the vendor’s commitment to keeping its tool updated and secure.
a) Full-stack observability
Traditional APM tools often focus solely on the back end, leaving you blind to potential bottlenecks in the front end or infrastructure. This piecemeal approach is like assembling a puzzle with missing pieces—you’ll never get the full picture.
To truly understand your system and optimize performance, you need a modern application performance management tool that provides full-stack observability, encompassing the front end, back end, infrastructure, and even cloud environments. This panoramic view allows you to pinpoint issues quickly, regardless of their origin, and navigate the complex interplay between components with unmatched precision.
A true full-stack observability tool should possess four fundamental capabilities:
1. A single source of truth
Move beyond siloed monitoring and gain full-stack visibility, insights, and actions from a single console. Your digital business and customers demand this evolution. A unified platform is essential for real-time insights, ensuring everyone from the development team to the operations team has a centralized view.
This includes a single dashboard displaying user interactions, server health, and application performance metrics. The platform should easily aggregate data from various sources, whether proprietary or open-source agents, APIs, or built-in instrumentation, providing a holistic understanding of the system.
2. Front-end observability
Focus: Front-end observability is integral to full-stack observability as it delves into user interactions, ensuring a holistic view of the application stack. It plays a pivotal role in proactively identifying and resolving issues before they impact users, contributing to enhanced satisfaction and retention.
3. Back-end observability
- Focus: In enterprise environments, back-end observability is the key to providing cross-functional teams with a clear understanding of their highly distributed systems. By processing metrics, logs, and traces from server-side components, the tool presents a comprehensive view of the back end’s performance. This approach helps you identify issues and optimize processes by leveraging metrics for quantitative insights, logs for detailed event information, and traces for transaction journey tracking. Such a holistic strategy empowers cross-functional teams to troubleshoot effectively and gain valuable insights into the intricate workings of their distributed systems.
- Metrics: In addition to the aspects mentioned above, it’s crucial to track the response times, error rate, throughput, latency, resource utilization, back-end transactions, and more.
4. Infrastructure observability
- Focus: Infrastructure observability is broader, encompassing the entire IT infrastructure that supports an application. It involves monitoring the state of infrastructure components to ensure stability and scalability. It covers servers, networks, databases, containers, and other components that constitute the underlying architecture.
- Metrics: The associated metrics to track include server health, network latency, resource utilization, and system-level metrics like CPU and memory usage.
b) A diverse technology stack
Selecting a monitoring tool for your application requires a keen eye for adaptability, especially in the context of a large organization with diverse technical setups, including multiple data centers and public clouds. Your monitoring tool should effortlessly accommodate this technical diversity without penalizing you for your heterogeneous assembly of technology platforms.
It’s crucial to avoid tools that force a pick-and-choose approach, only supporting parts of your tech stack. Whether you’re honing in on specific infrastructure segments or planning an application modernization shift, the chosen tool must seamlessly support every aspect of your evolving application stack.
If you don’t have complete coverage, this can lead to longer times to detect and resolve issues, which uses up valuable resources, potentially affects team morale, and slows down innovation. Closing the gaps in your monitoring becomes crucial for understanding the big picture of issues, spotting trends, and preventing potential challenges as you grow.
c) Ease of implementation and usability
Even if an application monitoring tool is highly functional, its effectiveness is undermined if it’s challenging to roll out. The initial setup is one of the first touch points between the tool and its users. If the APM software of your choice has a complicated, roundabout installation and setup process with a steep learning curve, it may lead to a less than smooth experience later on.
Therefore, it is essential to seek the following attributes in an APM tool:
- One of the fundamental elements of a positive installation experience is the tool’s capacity to initiate the collection and logging of application data within minutes of setup. This swift data collection onset ensures quick access to monitoring capabilities, reducing any potential delays.
- The tool should possess automated configuration options that can streamline the installation process. Automation reduces the likelihood of errors and ensures that the tool is set up optimally for your specific environment.
- Clear, comprehensive documentation is crucial. Users should have access to detailed instructions, troubleshooting guides, and FAQs to assist them during the installation process and beyond.
Two other factors that work in tandem with ease of installation are usability and customization. The tool should not only boast an intuitive, user-friendly interface, ensuring effortless navigation, but also prioritize customization features. Every infrastructure is unique, so the selected tool should be flexible, allowing your organization to customize performance monitoring based on your specific goals and KPIs.
d) Automation and fault management
Modern environments are too complex to resort to manual monitoring. To manage them optimally, it is imperative to look for application performance monitoring solutions that leverage automation. By automating tasks like data collection and analysis, these tools cut down on manual effort, reducing the risk of errors.
Imagine this: If your tool automates workflows, it can automatically execute predefined actions when a recurring issue arises. This not only minimizes downtime but also significantly boosts productivity.
Furthermore, by extending the reach of AI throughout the entire technology stack, you can unlock precise insights that are crucial for automating various facets of your operations. These include monitoring applications, testing, measuring service-level objectives, ensuring continuous delivery, enhancing application security, and streamlining incident response.
e) Security and compliance
In the digital world where cyberthreats constantly loom, it’s vital to ensure that your APM solution aligns with your security and compliance needs. This is especially important if it relies on third-party elements, requiring regular checks for potential vulnerabilities. Assessing permissions, corporate directory integrations, and encryption capabilities further bolsters your APM strategy and safeguards your digital infrastructure.
f) Integration capabilities and pricing
Efficient IT workflows depend on how seamlessly tools work together, especially for APM tools where quick alerting and collaboration are paramount. Choosing a solution with a unified interface ensures smooth integrations, eliminating data silos and streamlining workflows.
Envision having all your monitoring data, alerts, and troubleshooting tools accessible within a single platform, eliminating the need to switch between tools. This fosters prompt issue resolution, making your team more agile. Key integration capabilities for your APM tool should include native integrations with CI/CD pipelines and open APIs as well as collaborations with platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams.
Additionally, when selecting a monitoring tool, the diverse licensing structures offered by different vendors can pose a challenge. Deciding on the most suitable pricing model demands careful consideration. Various tools present options such as subscription plans, tiered pricing based on usage, and pay-as-you-go models.
It’s crucial to align your budget with the chosen plan, understanding the features encompassed in each pricing tier. Moreover, anticipate how pricing may scale as your application expands and assess whether the tool’s features justify the cost.
How Applications Manager can help
Applications Manager is one of the best application performance monitoring tools on the market. It provides unified observability into your infrastructure. Our tool goes beyond traditional application performance monitoring, offering a comprehensive suite of features that empower you to optimize performance, ensure seamless user experiences, and proactively detect and resolve issues.
With a user-friendly interface and robust capabilities, Applications Manager is the go-to choice for organizations seeking a reliable, cost-effective solution for end-to-end visibility into their applications and underlying infrastructures. Interested in learning more? Request a free, personalized demo today!