Maintaining and improving the performance of applications is crucial for any developer, but it is a complex and time-consuming process. Because of this, an entire industry of application performance management has developed over the last few years, and this plays a vital role in nearly every modern advancement. While the overall goal and function of all top-tier APM software is the same– geared at maintaining application performance and identifying problems– there are some big differences in the specifics, functionality and price of the available options.
The Importance of APM
We live in a digital world, and nearly every aspect of modern life involves a high level of technology. Think of how much time you spend on an average day looking at images displayed on a screen. From the computer you use at work to the television you watch at home and the smartphone that maintains everything about your life in between, digital devices impact every element of business, recreation, commerce and communication.
While the average consumer rarely considers or cares about anything beyond the information displayed on the screen, there are countless digital processes that must function perfectly to produce the final result. These processes move at nearly unimaginable speeds, and even a slight error or delay in one could impact the overall performance of the application and software. The devices, applications and software that we use in nearly every aspect of modern life depend on proper functionality and perfect fluidity to produce the expected result.
In addition to typical consumer devices, proper application performance is critical for the systems relied on by governments, major corporations and entire economies. Many of these large-scale applications have entire departments or companies maintaining their correct functionality, but independent developers and entrepreneurs still need help monitoring and managing their applications.
Application Performance Management
Application performance management (APM) is a specific discipline within IT that is geared towards monitoring application performance, identifying problems and providing the necessary tools for developers and general IT professionals to understand and begin to fix the problems. The acronym APM has also been used to refer to application performance monitoring and application performance maintenance, but all of these definitions essentially mean the same thing.
The management, monitoring and maintenance of software applications has developed into a booming industry in which services provide analytical data on the performance of applications, as well as the necessary tools to understand the data. From w3wp high cpu usage to response delays, APM should help developers identify problems as– or even before– they arise.
APM software collects analytical data on a number of levels and compiles this information into easily consumable formats. Pertinent data generally includes performance, availability and user experience of any given application or set of applications. The software also includes tools and processes for identifying, isolating and resolving issues or potential problems.
Effective APM software should include data on:
- Individual web request and transaction performance
- Application dependency usage including databases, web services, caching and others
- CPU, memory and other basic server metrics
- Application framework metrics
- Custom metrics as set by the business or the developer
- Application log data
- Application error information
Depending on the individual needs and budget of the developer, there are number of options available for APM software, both on-site and SaaS choices. Both options have their own pros and cons, and you will need to consider several factors when deciding on the right option for your needs. Fortunately, with the booming industry that is modern APM software, there is an option available to fit any developer, application and budget.