Application monitoring– Where the rubber meets the road

Posted by Alan Earls on Dec 22, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Users – and customers – care about one thing; they want their familiar and trusted applications to perform well and predictably. In the cloud, that’s usually not such a tall order. But there are plenty of exceptions.

That’s the focus of Application Performance Monitoring – born in the data center, but increasingly at home in the cloud. Cloud APM sees to the monitoring of resources that support actual applications, just like an on-premise APM. In the cloud particularly, the goal is often to identify user experience problems so that performance issues can be identified and cured.IMG_1123In fact, this focus on the user is not new. In a 2011 report about on-premise solutions, “How to Augment APM with Conventional Monitoring,” Gartner Research Vice President Jonah Kowall argued that critical production systems should be pervasively and continuously monitored using all means available – but the focus should be on APM since users ultimately rely on and care most about application performance. Monitoring of servers and everything else in the infrastructure is, therefore, critical but ultimately subsidiary to the application view.

A lot of companies have offering in this space. A recent APM blog post by Kowall mentioned that his company’s Magic Quadrant survey gave its top slot to three companies: AppDynamics, Compuware (aka Dynatrace), and New Relic. And there’s apparently a lot of market interest. Kowall says Gartner currently receives over 1,400 APM inquiries yearly from end user clients buying or implementing APM.

And, a lot of name brand players also have offerings in this field. For instance, venerable IT management software company CA Technologies offers APM Cloud Monitor as a SaaS solution to manage the end-to-end performance of cloud, mobile and traditional Web applications. Like many others, the CA Technologies offering uses “synthetic transaction monitoring” (also referred to as scripting or functional testing) to actively test and ensure performance across a realistic set of situations. The tool then helps to identify bottlenecks and can also clarify how users experience the site from different locations or devices.

Similarly, the application delivers transaction monitoring scripts to help reveal issues like slow page responses or to monitor the function of APIs.

A SearchCloudApplications' “Solutions Spotlight” called Tips for Effective Cloud APM provides a deeper dive into some of the points to consider in assessing performance and considering APM options. The document notes that APM traditionally starts with simply measuring response time at the user level and then walks through a succession of layers of connectivity and functionality to close in on the problem areas. According to the report, the only special requirement for cloud APM is that “Tools that are expected to co-reside with the application/component must be incorporated into the deployed soft­ware image, which means they have to be compatible with the cloud service’s hardware and software platform.”

So, in short, cloud APM is an important component in ensuring happy users – and it doesn’t have to be all that challenging to implement.

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Topics: Cloud Industry and Technology

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