Application performance matters regardless of the kind of apps you develop. Business applications need to meet high standards to streamline business processes and automate repetitive tasks. Mobile and web applications need to function quickly with as few interruptions as possible to keep users coming back.
Application performance monitoring (APM) and observability help ensure that end users have positive experiences. When apps don’t meet — or exceed — user expectations, customers feel tempted to explore alternatives. The poor performance of applications intended for business use creates a different problem: encouraging employees to rely on unapproved apps that could introduce security risks to your IT infrastructure.
Below, we describe some reasons developers need application performance monitoring platforms, what KPIs to track, and which APM options might meet your needs.
In our experience, businesses that produce apps almost always need APM tools. Performance and end-user experience monitoring offer benefits that:
Of course, different use cases have unique needs. Still, we find that a good APM platform makes it much easier for companies to keep all users happy.
Some APM metrics typically matter more than others. We tend to focus on the following KPIs before going in-depth with secondary performance data. Keep in mind, though, that “less important” metrics can still create performance problems. The ones that really matter often depend on how you want to optimize your app.
Apdex measures the number of satisfied and unsatisfied users to give you a score between 0 and 1. Ideally, you want a score as close as possible to 1. That would mean you have a perfect end-user experience.
Errors will happen. But how often do they happen? Use APM to track your error rate. Your APM platform should also offer observability that helps you find the error’s source. Maybe some of the open-source code dependencies changed, so the DevOps team needs to adjust the code. Maybe an on-premises CPU has to perform too many tasks to keep up. Find out with error messages that lead to solutions.
The performance of modern applications relies on several components working together flawlessly. Availability measures the number of failures that occur during a specific timeframe. Then, subtract the downtime from the overall timeframe to get the app’s uptime.
Since failures happen, developers need to know how long it typically takes to identify the problem, find a solution, and get an update to users.
A high MTTR could mean it’s time to look at your IT operations, including CPU usage, the processing power of on-premises servers, and the scalability of Kubernetes.
We published our blog post "Full Stack Monitoring, Best Features and Tools" a couple years ago. Since then, we’ve noticed the rise of a few new application health tools that deserve attention for their abilities to help developers prevent downtime, lower latency, and track performance metrics so you can avoid performance issues.
The following stand out as APM solutions we like. (It’s worth noting that Gartner also has a similar list of application monitoring tools with great recommendations.)
Dynatrace’s platform has built-in tools that should help clients improve their tech at several levels to improve customer experiences. The SaaS platform uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics for:
While it has full-stack monitoring capabilities, we find that it also works well specifically for application performance monitoring and observability.
New Relic has an all-in-one observability platform that helps engineers monitor, debug, and improve all aspects of their tech stacks. That includes applications.
New Relic uses Open Telemetry data to monitor performance. It can also generate visualizations that make it easier to review dependencies. The dashboard is about as user-friendly as it gets. Just click on a related entity to see how it connects to dependencies.
New Relic will also send alerts when it encounters application performance issues, making it possible for site reliability engineers to address problems quickly.
Application Insights is a good tool for overseeing numerous apps. It has a highly visual dashboard that lets you see how all of your apps perform. Then, you can focus on one that looks concerning.
Other useful features include:
Not surprisingly, Application Insights works best when you stay within the Microsoft ecosystem. However, it has plenty of integrations you can use to monitor app performance that relies on technology outside of Microsoft Azure’s offerings.
Amazon CloudWatch lets you create 10 custom metrics and alarms for free, so you can test it before you buy. Small organizations might even adopt it for long-term use as long as they don't need more than 10 custom metrics and alarms.
Other benefits of choosing CloudWatch include its:
We can help you choose a tool that improves your approach to application performance management.
What if you don’t see an APM platform with the metrics and troubleshooting features you need? Contact our team to talk about taking a deep dive into existing tools or getting a custom solution that meets your precise needs.