Application Performance Management: The Support System of the Virtual World

By Sachin Gupta, CMO, Code Brew Labs

The feeling of having so many things operating at your fingertips is intriguing, exciting and extremely promising. Millions like us wake up every morning and turn to our phones, half awake, and launch some app or the other to whip the day into action! The way these apps are designed, and the way they seamlessly connect us to whatever it is we require is not a chance occurrence. What the back-end of such performance requires is the meticulous monitoring of each and every response that the application provides to the many demands it supposedly meets! The intricacy involved in reading variables that determine the moment-to-moment performance of an application is so immense, that an entire discipline entails the same! The constant management of performance, availability and user experience of software applications is what comprises Applications Performance Management (APM). Be it a smartphone application or a web-based application, a successful and efficient application will have it’s APM software delivering numbers constantly, with tweaks being made on different levels to counter potential and pre-existing hiccups.

By monitoring the speed with which transactions are performed by users as well as the network infrastructure of the same, APM can provide an end-to-end array of potential bottlenecks and performance alterations. This generally requires a suite of tools that are used in con- junction to encompass the entire framework that supports the proper working of an application. Everything from Root Cause Analysis and Load Testing to Real-User Monitoring and Web Performance Monitoring would be undertaken under APM. The acronym itself is used to suggest everything from Application Performance Monitoring to Measurement, but Application Performance Management best conveys the vast array of analytical tools employed to evaluate the width and depth of everything that goes into delivering the most optimal user experience by any application.

So, where does this fit in? Developers and testers use it for quality assurance through code-level troubleshooting, while assessing their performance via auto-generated reports. Operations personnel could use it conduct series of tests across web, mobile, desktops, and APIs, aiming to ensure optimum user experience by detecting performance problems before they ever occur in real time. Even business leaders can use APM to monitor web transactions, assess the various steps, and gauge online revenue to be expected from the same. Thus, on a large scale, APM can prepare companies to effectively deal with the imprint that a specific application will make on the market by recreating a framework that would assess the various functions of an app before it even launches itself. By providing this array of angles, a blueprint can be created beforehand of how an application will fare in the market, and that final touch that would yield a more optimum ­user experience.

As you would have ascertained by now, APM is more of an outlook that involves the interplay of various different tools and their assessments. Different companies employ different approaches in integrating APM in their analytical framework. Tech research firm Gartner enlists the following as the major steps that go into Application Performance Management:

• End-User Experience Monitoring

• Runtime Application Architecture Discovery

• User-Defined Transaction Profiling

• Component Deep Dive Monitoring in Application Context

• Operations Analytics

Typically, end-user monitoring would identify a problem as it impacts the user. Next, the application’s runtime architecture would be surveyed or generated to define the scope of the problem. After this, user-defined transactions would be studied to determine the nodes in the architectural graph that are causing a problem. Then, deep-dive monitoring allows for greater scrutiny of the nodal issues, based on the context of the findings of the first three steps. Finally, operations analytics would al­low a consolidated look at enormous amounts of data,

which in turn would allow for root cause analysis and better anticipation of similar bottlenecks and hiccups in the future. From this viewpoint, it seems quite smooth and progressive a function, but the magnitude and fre­quency of such analysis is what requires the sophistica­tion of APM tools to be right up there!

Competitive offerings in all five listed domains of services, credibility in monitoring of these domains, effective integration of domains for quicker and more seamless understanding, consistent innovation and mul­tiple functionality across various platforms are a few fac­ets that set the leaders apart from the rest of the players. Getting the objectives right, and providing a function­ality that tends to all of them in a consolidated manner is the way to successfully hold your ground in this ever-expanding market.

As people, we tend to forget the leaps that we have taken in the last decade when it comes to the function­ality and seamlessness of the apps and software at our disposal. If not for the APM industry, most of our initial troubles with these apps would never be solved, and the exponential growth of the market as well as the pos­sibilities of the mobile generation would be blanketed. We owe a great deal to the APM industry, in how we interact with the world and how we tend to our needs and desires. The growth and expansion of this industry stands testament to the innovative potential of our race, and what we are ultimately capable of achieving!

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