Image: Sammby/Adobe Stock Must-read developer coverage Meeting user experience demands across software development organizations has made application monitoring and performance a crucial business development strategy. With software development tilting toward Continue Reading

Image: Sammby/Adobe Stock

Meeting user experience demands across software development organizations has made application monitoring and performance a crucial business development strategy.

With software development tilting toward wide-scale automation in testing and deployment, several application performance monitoring (APM) tools are designed to help DevOps (development and operations) engineers and software testing teams monitor and track application performance.

Application performance monitoring tools help businesses remain on top of the situation when there are perceived bottlenecks in application performance. Unfortunately, there is a proliferation of these tools, making it more difficult for IT teams to select the best solution for their business.

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What is an APM monitoring tool?

APM tools are solutions designed to aid in the monitoring, tracking and reporting of application performance metrics in order to help DevOps take necessary actions to ensure applications meet business and user demands. They are solutions designed to automate the process of application performance monitoring by ensuring parameters that provide insight into the state of the application are tracked and reported.

In other words, application monitoring tools are software solutions that can provide digital experience monitoring, application tracking and diagnostics to support IT business operations.

With application monitoring tools, it becomes easier for DevOps to figure out issues within their application through the performance report generated and displayed on the dashboard.

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Which is the best APM tool?

Dynatrace

Dynatrace is a popular APM solution that can provide real-time monitoring of an application ecosystem. It leverages the power of AI to provide insight into the operational state of an application, making it easy for DevOps to optimize applications to meet user demands.

This solution is loaded with capabilities that help monitor and track all transactions in the application at the code level and provide detailed reports on performance issues. With Dynatrace, DevOps teams can monitor applications written in Node.js, Java, .NET and PHP.

Dynatrace also enhances app performance efficiency by predicting and resolving app problems before they wreak havoc on user experience. With over 600 platforms supported, Dynatrace supports scalability goals, allowing businesses to integrate easily with as many tools as possible.

The tool offers a 15-day free trial period and features multiple pricing tiers for businesses of different scales.

Key Features

  • Dynatrace provides multi-platform and language support.
  • The solution supports end-to-end monitoring down to code level.
  • Issue prediction is facilitated by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Dynatrace delivers on-point business analytics reports from app performance to improve user experience.
  • The solution provides a collaborative space for development, operations and security (DevSecOps) teams to function efficiently.
  • It is configured to provide continuous automation and optimization of app performance.

Datadog

Datadog is a robust application performance monitoring, analytic and security solution that gives IT teams a clear insight into their application key performance indicators.

It’s an APM tool that unifies performance monitoring on an organization’s clouds, servers and applications, ensuring that IT teams have everything needed to optimize key performance metrics to meet business goals.

With log management, security monitoring, synthetic monitoring, real-user monitoring and network monitoring, Datadog provides a clear picture of what’s going on in the entire technology stack.

This APM tool can fit into businesses of all sizes to engineer their cloud migration, collaborative application monitoring across different platforms, security monitoring and cloud migration. With Datadog, both big and small business organizations have a tool they can leverage to ensure their application provides a great user experience.

Those interested can check out this tool using the free-trial version. For prices, the amount paid is determined by the service(s) picked when starting out with the tool. For example, businesses enjoy the flexibility of picking solutions that meet their most pressing needs, such as database monitoring, incident management, CI (continuous integration) visibility, app security monitoring and application load monitoring.

Key Features

  • Datadog supports continuous profiling, which helps businesses gain code-level visibility into metrics like CPU performance, memory usage and response time, highlighting the components that consume the most resources.
  • The solution leverages artificial intelligence to auto-detect issues in applications, thereby reducing error rate.
  • The tool supports key technology integrations with over 400 platforms and tools for better metrics aggregation and reporting.
  • It facilitates tag-based searches for easy search completion on complex infrastructure.

AppDynamics

AppDynamics is a big player in the APM market. Gartner recognized AppDynamics as the leader among many APM solutions in their 2021 Magic Quadrant Report for over eight years. Powered by Cisco, this tool is geared toward helping businesses achieve business growth by providing powerful plug-ins needed for visibility to ensure better app performance optimization.

Through end-to-end observability, AppDynamics features tools that connect business performance indicators to IT teams, ensuring the most critical issues are highlighted with root causes and possible resolution.

AppDynamics also provides IT teams with an enabling environment that facilitates cloud migration. In migration, users are provided with real-time automated performance visibility of what’s going on within the layers of an application for better business outcomes.

From code-level to third-party API (application programming interface) issues, this APM solution helps IT teams figure out issues within their entire application stack and their root causes, making it easy for DevOps to focus on the most critical issues affecting business performance.

AppDynamics features different pricing ranges to accommodate businesses of all sizes. The higher the price, the more comprehensive the app performance monitoring coverage.

Key Features

  • AppDynamics works well with other recognized industry solutions such as Docker, Node.js, ADO.NET, Python and Apache.
  • It provides automated error detection and AI-powered root cause analysis.
  • This APM tool supports hybrid environment monitoring.
  • It provides integration capabilities with other leading technology solutions.
  • The tool has a cognitive engine backed by machine learning to automate error detection.

Dotcom-Monitor

Dotcom-Monitor is loaded with features that help IT teams get insight into the end-user experience. With the tool, users can monitor all layers of app functionality and understand how they impact business goals.

From server-side to front-end layers of the application, this APM tool highlights every app performance metric, user operations and spot bottlenecks in real-time. In addition, users get to see all records displayed in human-readable format on the dashboard.

Those interested can leverage their 30-day free trial to get started with the tool, but Dotcom-Monitor’s support team will need to be contacted for pricing.

Key Features

  • Real-time performance monitoring is available for web pages, API and web applications.
  • Dotcom-Monitor supports the creation of scripts that can reveal key business web transactions such as logins, signup and shopping carts.
  • The tool supports the creation of filters to reduce the incidence of false alerts.
  • Integration is available with popular tools like Asana, Salesforce and BMC.
  • The tool also features app performance monitoring schedules to include or exclude times for monitoring.

Instana

Instana is an APM tool that is most suitable for large business enterprises. This tool continuously and automatically analyzes every event in an application in real time, making it easier to resolve problems.

With Instana, there is no need for DevOps to configure monitoring scripts all the time, as the tool takes care of it. This APM solution also leverages the power of automation to map services and record every process happening within the app infrastructure, ensuring there are no blind spots.

With every new version release, Instana monitors and alerts IT teams on the impact of these changes, making it easy for teams to decide whether or not to reverse the changes or release a patch.

There is a 14-day full version free trial for potential users to check out the APM solution. To start using the tool after the free trial, those interested can choose either the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Self-hosted pricing tier.

Key Features

  • Instana allows users to cut off app services they do not wish to measure. Hence, users have the opportunity to focus on the services that matter most to their business.
  • The tool has a dependency mapping capability that makes it easy for DevOps to understand how different components in the application interrelate to affect or improve performance.
  • There is no need for countless plug-ins, as the tool automatically integrates with top cloud platforms such as AWS MSK Monitoring, Amazon EMR, Azure Observability and Monitoring and more.
  • Instana supports AI-boosted troubleshooting for better incident prediction and resolution of issues.

LogicMonitor

LogicMonitor is another top APM tool that can serve businesses of different sizes. It has some fantastic observability features that help in the intelligent measuring of traces and metrics. With LogicMonitor, Dev teams can easily gain visibility into issues such as application latency, bottlenecks in user experience and end-to-end tracing. The tool also supports hybrid and multi-cloud environments and enhances team collaboration to reduce silos.

Thanks to its intelligent troubleshooting features, LogicMonitor can quickly pinpoint and provide solutions to the most complex application issues.

This tool has two pricing models: Pro and Enterprise. The Pro version of the solution is for hybrid monitoring, while the Enterprise version covers full observability.

Key Features

  • The tool is built on OpenTelemetry and OpenMetrics monitoring frameworks.
  • It has features that help eliminate situations that will lead to writing complex scripts for cloud and container monitoring.
  • LogicMonitor provides intelligent insights that record and upload transactions.
  • The solution supports an alerting system for traces.

Scout

Scout is a popular APM tool that provides deep visibility into apps that run on Python, PHP, Node.js and Ruby programming languages. Scout’s performance monitoring solution goes beyond detecting bottlenecks in the application infrastructure to include tracing logic that pinpoints the lines of codes causing the issues.

Scout’s features and support for server-side languages make it a suitable tool for IT teams that want clear insights into their application back-end performance.

Interested individuals can check out Scout using their 14-day free trial or adopt any of their pricing lists: Basic, Plus, Pro and Enterprise.

Key Features

  • The tool supports an intelligent alerting system that draws attention to any application defects.
  • Easy identification of slow data queries and N+1 Queries.
  • Provides intuitive dashboards that provide visibility into user requests and paths.
  • Issues within an application are directly tied to endpoints.

Raygun

Raygun is another APM SaaS-based solution that runs on popular server-side languages such as Ruby, .NET, Node.js and .NET Core. In addition, this APM software solution integrates seamlessly with other popular tools like Bitbucket, GitLab, Jira, GitHub and other developer tools to provide actionable insights into server-side performance.

Raygun features capabilities that facilitate crash reporting and real user monitoring. In addition, it has a dashboard that provides visibility into core user experience indicators and suggests where adjustments need to be made for quality app performance. As a result, Raygun can help spot issues and determine which line of action is best for specific code, databases, APIs and servers.

Those interested can take advantage of Raygun’s 14-day free trial, but any further pricing details will need to be obtained from their support team.

Key Features

  • It has a customizable dashboard that displays user session traffic and performance timings.
  • DevOps teams can measure the impact of app optimizations on applications in real time.
  • Azure Repos, Bitbucket and GitHub integrations make it easy for developers to see errors in their code repositories.
  • The tool allows custom app performance optimizations to match end-user demands.

Core features of APM monitoring tools

These core capabilities should form the checklist for development team leaders, software engineers and software testers when selecting APM tools for their projects:

  • APM tools should be able to carry out impact and causative analysis of application performance to facilitate the resolution of issues in the application.
  • APM tools should be able to automate the integration of other third-party software to accommodate evolving infrastructure.
  • APM tools should be able to handle the end-to-end observability of transactional behavior in the application to reveal how these transactions affect user experience.
  • APM tools should be able to mount real-time and automatic discovery and mapping of application components for easy discovery and resolution of application bottlenecks.
  • APM tools should support cross-platform monitoring across mobile and desktop to access, track and report end-user experience.
  • APM tools should be able to provide insights into how new integrations in the application infrastructure affect performance indicators.

How does APM monitoring work?

APM tools are configured to observe how applications behave in operation and how the app performance affects business goals as well as to gather data that provides a detailed explanation of where issues exist in the app for easy resolution. This may seem like a long crawl around the application, but it’s not, as the tool automates these processes to save IT teams from manually searching for issues on event logs.

Application performance monitoring works by measuring different application key performance indicators (KPIs) to understand how the application performs in real time. All APM tools work by checking whether an application is performing optimally. This includes running an end-to-end assessment loop through key components of the application.

If an issue is detected during one of the checks, the tool alerts the team of the root cause of the problems. Then, it goes further to measure the impact against the key business performance metrics.

SEE: While critical, IT leaders are struggling with application modernization (TechRepublic)

Some of the core metrics measured by application performance monitoring include:

  • CPU Usage: APM tools measure how an application uses CPU and memory capacity to determine if they affect application performance.
  • Request Rates: APM tools measure the volume of traffic an app receives to help reveal periods of inactivity and spikes in traffic.
  • Application Uptime: APM tools monitor an app’s availability to end users and alerts IT staff during periods of downtime.
  • Error Rates: This metric indicates how often an error can occur in the application. APM tools work by tracking how often an application fails during usage.
  • Response Times: The average response time (ART) is another metric APM tools measure to reveal how speed may affect the application performance.

Why businesses need APM

The importance of application performance in the present-day business landscape cannot be overemphasized. As the world is increasingly being driven by digital transformations, many businesses depend mainly on applications to meet the needs of their customers.

SEE: Research: Digital transformation initiatives focus on collaboration (TechRepublic Premium)

However, there are situations where these applications malfunction, leading to glitches in end-user performance. These glitches could include load time issues, delayed response time or app crashes. APM tools can help mitigate malfunctions altogether as well as provide quick resolution times if they do happen.

APM cuts off operational silos

Operational silos are business operations or units that cannot easily interact with one another. APM breaks down these silos by unifying visibility across the entire application infrastructure, making it easy for different teams to know what’s happening in the application.

APM makes it easy to meet end-user expectations

Nothing brings down a business like leaving a customer base frustrated. APM enables businesses to be on top of the situation when there are performance issues with the application. In some cases, APM tools can provide an alerting system to notify key team members when there is a potential issue.

APM helps businesses resolve issues faster

APM makes it easy to figure out where an issue is within an application, facilitating quick resolutions.

APM solutions connect app performance with business analytics

APM solutions provide analytics showing how application performance affects some business areas. With this analytics, businesses can easily focus on critical areas that require urgent attention.

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