While traditional application monitoring techniques have supported the software lifecycle for decades, automated APM tools have streamlined the practice and made it even more efficient.
DevOps teams utilize automated APM tools to receive alerts and notifications more quickly, enabling them to resolve performance issues before they impact the end-user experience. Thus, these tools enhance the effectiveness of the entire application monitoring process.
Before we dive into APM tools and some of the best APM tools available in the market, let’s understand what application performance monitoring is and how it benefits a business.
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Application Monitoring and Tracing
The software development lifecycle has always included application monitoring as a component. Moreover, under application monitoring, a business monitors its entire application as a whole. This practice allows DevOps teams to track metrics and understand overall application availability and response time.
While application monitoring has been a strong pillar of software development and deployment, the practice only monitors surface-level events of an application. Therefore, DevOps teams have adopted various other practices to complement application monitoring techniques. Tracing is one such practice.
Tracing allows DevOps teams to track the data progression and also the program flow of an application. In addition, it offers insights into complex distributed software environments.
The majority of DevOps teams employ application monitoring techniques and use tracing for a more granular understanding of the application performance, whenever an issue arises.
Therefore, we would look at the benefits of application monitoring, and the tools used for such monitoring practice in the next sections of this blog.
Application Monitoring Benefits:
Application Performance Monitoring helps to identify and notify the exact failure point in an application, in real-time. As a result, teams are able to respond immediately, they fix performance and stability issues and restore services without delay or before any hindrance in user experience.
Furthermore, application monitoring sets a standard for performance metrics and alerts teams when the performance varies. And it does this in a way that is convenient for teams or administrators. It provides visual data for the performance metrics, thus, enabling users to better understand the data.
Alaska Airlines wanted to gather insights that would help them bring costly performance issues down. So, Alaska Airlines went with the APM solution. It allowed the company to derive a holistic view of its ecosystem and also understand and target the root causes of issues. As a result, the company experienced a 60% reduction in outages, and MTTR went down from an hour to 10 mins.
Some other key benefits of application monitoring in DevOps are:
It reduces downtime
Facilitates better user experience (UX); APM ensures traffic continues to flow. It can further identify latency issues and map anomalies as well as other end-user performance indicators
Facilitates faster Patching and Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR); tracks down the fault domain, thus, speeding up a business’s patch management process
Enhances the productivity of the application
Improves SEO and conversion rates
Ensures compliance with government and SLA rules
APM improves the overall security of the application by efficiently addressing performance bugs and closing security vulnerabilities, saving time, and utilizing fewer resources.
Since application performance monitoring has extensive benefits, the practice has been in use for many decades. However, traditional application monitoring ways were not as efficient and fruit-bearing as the new ways that include the usage of tools.
In the past, PING testing was traditionally employed for application performance monitoring, which posed challenges as it required running tests to identify performance bottlenecks or bugs. This limitation resulted in compromised application performance during off-hours, leading to inconvenience for businesses and users.
That’s why automated application monitoring tools came into existence, to give what the traditional ways lacked. APM tools modernized the way application monitoring is done, enhancing the efficiency and also productivity of the whole process and application as a whole.
Some features make an application performance monitoring tool more effective. These essential and top features are:
Ability to measure the performance of application transactions (request + response)
The performance of application dependencies should be monitored for issues
Ability to carry out profiling at the code-level
Monitors server resource usage
A centralized application logging dashboard
Facilitate Real User Monitoring (RUM)
These were some of the desired characteristics of an APM tool. These features allow a tool to efficiently monitor an application’s performance, thereby covering all the intended aspects.
Let’s now look at the top application performance monitoring tools and help a business choose the one that best fits its needs.
DataDog offers cloud-based application performance monitoring services. This tool facilitates distributed tracing and code profiling.
Founded in 2010, it enables users to analyze and also monitor dependencies and remove performance bottlenecks. This tool further helps teams to reduce latency, track errors, and enhance code efficiency to optimize an application.
It provides live root-cause analysis to bring down resolution time and in addition, facilitate faster release of features. This tool supports some of the most popular web frameworks such as Django, Ruby on Rails, Gin, and Spring.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of the DataDog APM tool as well as the pricing system.
Easy to use, and customizable interface
No need for server deployments or onboarding costs due to cloud support
Facilitates monitoring scaling through flexible pricing options
Launched in 2006, Dynatrace is touted as the first self-learning APM tool. It monitors and manages the performance as well as ensures the availability of the software application. Furthermore, performance issues are discovered using artificial intelligence (AI).
Dynatrace APM monitors all individual as well as business transactions along with capturing their timing, across every tier, at the code level thoroughly.
This tool supports programming languages like .NET and Java.
This tool automatically discovers and monitors microservices running within containers; helps teams to analyze their performance and detect poorly performing microservices right away. It is a SaaS or On-premise tool.
Pros of the Dynatrace APM tool are:
Easy-to-use user interface; highly visual and customizable dashboards
Operates in the cloud, offering platform-independent feature
Capable of monitoring application uptime as well as the supporting infrastructure and UX
Cons of Dynatrace are:
Suitable for large networks, small-scale organizations may find it to be overwhelming
The SaaS version costs $216 per month per server
AppDynamics is an application performance management company based out of the USA, that started as an independent firm in 2008 but was later acquired by Cisco Systems in 2018. It caters to large enterprises and offers them SaaS as well as on–premise application performance monitoring services.
This tool provides insights and great visibility into application performance, helping teams to identify bottlenecks, bugs, and other issues on time. It facilitates end-to-end transaction tracing and gives code-level visibility. Furthermore, it offers dynamic baselining and alerting services.
AppDynamics APM tool supports programming languages like .NET, Java, PHP, C++, Python, Node.js
It enables teams to identify and fix root-cause analysis efficiently. Gartner recognized AppDynamics as a leader in the APM market for more than 8 years and was positioned highest in ‘ability to execute’ in Gartner’s 2021 Magic Quadrant Report for APM.
Let’s see how this tool is beneficial and what are its disadvantages as well as how is it priced.
Suitable for use by large-scale enterprise
Efficient dependency mapping and visualizations that help with troubleshooting complex application systems
Provides data flow tracking
The mobile app needs improvement
AppDynamics APM tool costs $230 per month per server
Broadcom DX APM is a monitoring platform that comprises small microservices, allowing individual scalability and performance enhancement. It monitors user activity to identify performance shortfalls in an application.
Broadcom’s transaction tracer builds up a map of application components and service dependencies. It also gives visibility into database performance. Moreover, graphs of application delivery performance over time are prepared to spot any irregularities or deviations.
With this tool, alert thresholds are fine-tuned by ML so that non-essential alerts do not overwhelm a user and have an impact on its day-to-day activities.
Pros of Broadcom DX APM are:
Combines visuals with application log data
The product easily accessible to companies of all sizes with a SaaS model
Makes use of baseline analysis to highlight abnormalities
Cons of Broadcom DX APM:
Complicated onboarding for the on-premise version
Reporting should be made easier to use
Costs according to products and business needs
Founded in 2006, Site 24×7 is a cloud-based application performance monitoring tool. One of the best APM tools in the market, Site 24×7 allows users to analyze the performance of an application running on multiple platforms like Java, Node.js, Ruby, PHP, and .NET.
Administered remotely, this tool is capable of analyzing applications running on any platform, including on both, cloud servers and mobile devices. Capable of discovering all of your software and tracking different modules that support them, this tool creates an application dependency map.
The performance analyzing capabilities of this tool extends to databases. Supporting services causing the slowdown of the system can be identified. Live metrics on transaction data and reports for multiple periods can also be viewed with this tool.
Integration of emerging technologies like AI and ML allows users as well as the site to set desired or suitable levels of alert thresholds.
Let’s understand the pros and cons of this tool along with its pricing options.
Facilitates real user monitoring
Uses real-time data to discover devices and build charts
The platform is intuitive, basic training is required to make it fully functional
Features and options take time to be completely understood and learned as the platform is very detailed
Charges on a monthly subscription basis
A 30-day free trial option on Site 24×7 Pro
There are many application-performing monitoring tools available in the market today to assist businesses with application monitoring. However, some features tell a tool apart and bring more efficiency to the monitoring process.
A business should define its needs and choose the most suitable APM tool accordingly. And if you are having trouble with choosing the most suitable tool, then you have landed on the right page.
BigOhTech is adept at DevOps consulting services. Our DevOps experts ensure that the application performs as per the business needs and standards.
Reach out to us today and never leave your app unmonitored!
Q1. What is an APM monitoring tool?
Application monitoring tools facilitate tracking and monitoring various performance metrics of an application to identify issues and bugs. These automated tools help a developer to identify performance bottlenecks as they occur, in real-time and fix them, providing an enhanced user experience to the end-users. These best APM tools help a business to achieve its business goals and live up to its software delivery expectations.
Q2. Which APM tool is best?
Different APM tools do an excellent job of tracking application performance metrics. APM tools like DataDog, AppDynamics, Splunk, Site 24×7, etc., are all some of the top options in the market and possess different useful features. These tools should be chosen according to business needs.
Q3. Why is APM used?
APM or application performance monitoring is a practice that is an integral part of a software lifecycle. It allows teams to track metrics and monitor overall application availability and response time.