What You Need To Know About Application Performance Management

I have seen a shift in responsibility for overseeing and managing applications. Application monitoring and management is increasingly moving from application architects and developers and into IT operations. Our clients’ IT management folks are expected to be responsible for ensuring application health and performance and therefore are increasingly relying upon Layered Tech to provide management information and dashboard.

This shift is particularly true in regards to management of distributed applications. A fundamental change in the way that applications are built, deployed, and scaled has caused web applications to shift from being monolithic in nature to many components distributed over multiple tiers and nodes, all connected through service-oriented architectures. This trend has contributed to IT operations being the front line when applications fail to meet business SLAs.

Therefore, it’s more important than ever that tools designed for Application Performance Management (APM) enable IT operations to locate and resolve problems without necessarily calling in the development team for assistance. APM tools must be extremely intuitive, far-ranging in their capability, and able to speak the language of business—rather than the language of developers.

Based upon what I am seeing from our customers, APM is necessary and needs to address the following cases:

1. Auto-instrumenting. In today’s agile environment, an APM tool needs to adapt to each code role without additional configuration or scripting. The coordination of code roles and APM update is not practical given the complexity of applications. In fact, our clients require an APM tool to automatically discover, trace, correlate, and visualize transaction performance when new code is introduced.

2. Able to go wide. Today’s distributed application consist of multiple components and tiers communicating together to perform complex business transactions.  A single blind spot in your monitoring can severely limit your ability to manage and trouble shoot issues.

3. Able to go deep. Our customers need to be able to see deeply into the application to isolate the problem without calling upon developers. It’s necessary to drill down and see method-level detail of a particular transaction, and understand whether the incident is caused by resource constraints, bad code, or any number of potential culprits.

4. Able to understand business transactions. A transaction is an action like a checkout cart. Looking at business transactions creates a common language between developer and IT management, and it is what the business cares about. The next issue to consider is how to set transaction thresholds that account for your dynamic business.  Automated baselines of a transaction and accounting for variations based upon time of day or the week can help establish normal thresholds accurately and quickly to improve monitoring relevance and eliminate false alarms.

5. Built for cloud environments. The days of over provisioning are no longer necessary given the new agility that cloud environments provide. The challenge is now to better understand your workloads to tune your Infrastructure needs and be able to increase or decrease based upon real needs. An APM tool should enable to you optimize your infrastructure spend.

Without all of these capabilities, an APM tool may be able to support certain application performance functions but will ultimately be ill-equipped for the demands of a quickly changing IT environment.

To get more insight into these capabilities and to identify questions you should ask APM providers when comparing solutions, we have created a White Paper titled, Five Strategies for Application Performance Management. Download the white paper here.

Kevin Van Mondfrans, VP of Product ManagementAbout the Author: As Vice President of Product Management at Layered Tech, Kevin Van Mondfrans (@VANMONDFRANS | +Kevin Van Mondfrans) is responsible for driving the Layered Tech portfolio of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and managed service offerings. With more than 20 years of experience product development and marketing, Kevin has been delivering innovative computing, storage, cloud and service offering with companies such as HP, Dell, and Savvis.

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