Application Performance Management: improving results in 5 steps

Aug 26, 2020 | Blogs and whitepapers

Application Performance Management (APM) is the performance monitoring of a company’s software portfolio. The variables that the APM must measure are manifold and not always easy to control, also due to the current software infrastructures complexity. Many applications are directly related to user experience, and are influencing the business of the company. Therefore, the APM strives to detect and diagnose complex application performance problems with the aim of maintaining an expected level of service, capable of satisfying the customer implicit and explicit needs.

So, how do you keep all these variables under control and continuously and progressively improve the results of Application Performance Management? We have identified five programmatic actions to be implemented: let’s see what they are.

1. Application Performance Management: choosing the right performance metrics

The choice of metrics to evaluate in Application Performance Management is not simple at all. Surely it is right to measure the quality of the user experience, evaluating the performance, both in normal and stressful conditions. An example of a measurable performance indicator is represented by the average response times under peak load (the “load” is the volume of transactions, requests and pages per second processed by the application). These metrics are not always taken into account by programmers in development, but they usually emerge during tests.

Another metrics set that is useful to consider in Application Performance Management is the measurement of calculation resources used by the application, assessing whether there is adequate capacity to support a load situation and, possibly, identifying the performance bottlenecks. The measurement of these quantities establishes an empirical line of performance for the application, which can be used to detect changes in performance. It can also be related to external events and subsequently used to predict future changes in application performance.

The use of APM is common for web applications, which lend themselves better to more detailed monitoring techniques. In addition to measuring a user response time, also the response time of Web application components can be monitored to identify the causes of the delay.

2. The watchword is “to trace”

Some application performance monitoring solutions are unable to support a large volume of data generated by today complex and dynamic application environments. In-depth analysis is required in order to identify application performance patterns and anomalies. In this perspective, it is appropriate to trace all the entry and exit points of the applications.

Often, in fact, when transaction tracking reveals the slowness of the application server, there may be a problem in the application code. That’s why transaction profiling can come in handy.

3. An insight on standard situations performances

Maintaining the baseline of all activities and storing the history in a management system can be very useful to understand the extent of the swing with respect to a critical situation. It would be a good idea to use these detailed bases and the history to quickly identify what has changed when you experience updated performance issues. Having a “historical photograph” can be useful to better face this problem.

4. Application Performance Management: how to win the cloud challenge

One of the challenges to be faced is that of implementing an effective and efficient Application Performance Management also with applications “docked” or distributed in micro-services. In this context, in fact, the variability of the measurements increases. A good practice is to focus on measurement techniques that integrate directly with the applications, so as to promptly verify problems that directly affect the company business.

In fact, we must always remember that, in applications exploded into micro-services and cloud-based, many of the system key components could be present in serverless systems.

5. Understanding the end-user experience

Ensuring an excellent experience for the customer, partners and employees is difficult if you have no way of understanding the transaction from the user’s point of view. Mobile, for example, represents an even greater challenge because the device, the O/S, and the network can vary considerably and affect performance. To best evaluate mobile performance, developers should monitor applications in real time. This will serve to understand how performance interacts with the network and the device, as well as the impact of performance on the end-user experience.

Organizations must therefore be able to reconstruct the user journey with the application infrastructure and understand when, where and why his experience is influenced during access to the application.