APM Today: Application Performance Monitoring Explained

Application Performance Monitoring (APM) is a technology approach that provides real-time information about how your software applications are performing. With a comprehensive view into application health and availability, APM can do things like:

  • Track user interactions in an app or system.
  • Trace critical transactions to deep-dive diagnostics into potential issues.
  • Give you information on where to spend more or less resources.

Both the importance and the usage of APM has grown in recent years. That’s because companies rely on increasingly complex applications to run their businesses.

Here is what you need to know about Application Performance Monitoring.

Monitoring application performance: how it works

A comprehensive term, application performance is that looks at a variety of factors that can help or hurt how a given app is performing. Managing all that complexity isn’t easy on your own, which is where APM solutions come into play. Organizations rely on APM for a variety of reasons:

  • Maintaining high application performance levels.
  • Enhancing user satisfaction.
  • Resolving issues quickly.

This support is crucial, particularly for organizations working across distributed systems and deploying software via modern frameworks. With near-constant changes, APM software helps to ensure that your software meets business objectives and user expectations.

(Learn about Splunk APM and achieve end-to-end visibility.)

Ways APM will help you

APM brings a slew of benefits that can profoundly impact the technical and business facets of operations. Here’s an exploration of its benefits:

Proactive problem resolution

Instead of reacting to issues after they’ve occurred, APM allows organizations to identify and address potential problems before they impact users or business operations.

APM tools detect real-time anomalies by setting performance baselines and continuously monitoring application health. Automated alerts notify relevant teams of potential issues, enabling rapid response. This proactive approach reduces downtime and ensures consistent application availability.

(Explore top incident response metrics.)

Enhanced user experience

At its core, APM aims to ensure the application provides an optimal end-user experience. APM tools gauge user satisfaction and identify improvement areas by tracking information like:

  • User interactions
  • Page/app load times
  • Transaction pathways

Any lag, error, or bottleneck can be promptly addressed, ensuring users have a seamless and efficient experience, increasing customer retention and positive brand perception. After all, satisfied customers have no reason to stop using your products and services.

Optimized resource allocation

APM provides insights into how resources — like cloud services, servers, and databases — are leveraged by applications, which helps you better manage your IT resources.

With good APM tooling, you can get insights into which parts of an application are resource-intensive or underutilized. This information can help you make smart decisions about load balancing, scaling, and infrastructure investments. Of course, this right-sizing ensures that resources are neither wasted nor stretched thin, leading to cost savings and optimized application performance.

Data-driven decision making

APM tools aggregate vast amounts of data, offering actionable insights that drive strategic decisions.

Through APM's comprehensive analytics and reporting, companies understand application performance trends, user behavior patterns, and infrastructure health. These data points form the basis for making informed decisions about software updates, infrastructure changes, or business strategies.

APM supports business outcomes

It’s important to point this out: APM offers much more than merely a technical perspective —APM provides a holistic view that intertwines technical performance with business outcomes.

The benefits of proactive problem resolution, enhanced user experience, optimized resource allocation, and data-driven decision-making ensure that organizations can leverage their applications effectively to meet both user expectations and business goals.

Components & features of APM

The world of APM is vast, and its utility is structured around several core components. Let’s delve into these components in detail:

End user experience monitoring

This component gauges real users' experience when interacting with an application, ensuring that the software meets or exceeds user expectations.

Techniques inside APM offer different views. For example:

The primary goal is to understand how users perceive the application and where bottlenecks or lags might affect their experience.

Runtime application architecture discovery & modeling

Discovery and modeling are about understanding and visualizing how different parts of an application communicate and depend on each other.

APM tools dynamically map out application components and their interactions, highlighting dependencies. This provides clear visualization, like topology graphs and dependency maps, aiding teams in understanding the intricate workings of the application and how changes in one component might impact others.

User-defined transaction profiling

Transaction profiling allows organizations to tailor monitoring to specific transactions or interactions they deem critical. Instead of general monitoring, user-defined transaction profiling offers granular insights into specific transactions as they flow through various application components. This detailed view aids in understanding the behavior of essential features or functions, ensuring they perform optimally.

Application component deep dive

This component offers a granular view of individual application components at the code level.

When performance issues arise, it’s critical to identify the root cause quickly. This component allows teams to delve into application elements, including specific code sections, database queries, and external service calls.

This way, teams can implement targeted solutions without affecting unrelated parts of the application — after all, they know exactly where the bottleneck or error occurred.

Analytics & reporting

A core function of APM tools, this component aggregates the vast amount of data captured and presents it in a digestible, actionable format.

APM tools consolidate data from various monitoring touchpoints, producing comprehensive reports, dashboards, and visualizations. This provides a holistic view of application health and aids in spotting trends, predicting potential future issues, and making informed decisions based on historical and real-time data.

Choosing APM tools

With the vast array of APM tools available today, picking the right one for your business can be overwhelming. It’s critical to find a comprehensive, unbiased comparison that weighs various organizations' challenges, goals, and needs.

Gartner Magic Quadrant research methodology and graphical representation offers a visual snapshot of the APM market’s participants, maturity, and direction. Designed to provide a clear and unbiased evaluation of software vendors within the APM space, this quadrant aids business leaders in selecting the best suited APM solution for their unique needs.

The Magic Quadrant for APM is divided into four categories: Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries, and Niche Players. These categories assess vendors based on two primary criteria:

  • Their ability to execute, reflecting a vendor’s current product efficacy and market performance.
  • Their completeness of vision, indicating a vendor’s potential and future strategy.

The resulting quadrant, available for free download, gives organizations a comprehensive view of the APM landscape, highlighting both industry stalwarts and emerging contenders.

(Splunk is proud to be named a Leader in the 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Application Performance Monitoring and Observability.)

Importance of Gartner evaluation

Gartner’s evaluation, particularly through tools like the Magic Quadrant, holds significant weight in the IT industry, and for good reason. Gartner is recognized for its rigorous, in-depth research methodologies. When Gartner evaluates a particular market, product, or vendor, it conducts thorough analyses, often based on extensive surveys, customer interviews, and product tests. This rigorous approach ensures that its insights are comprehensive and relevant.

The Magic Quadrant’s clear visual representation further enhances its value for business leaders. Decision-makers grasp at a glance the competitive positioning of vendors in the market. This clarity simplifies the often-daunting technology selection process, especially in a saturated market with multiple players. It’s easier for businesses to align their specific needs with vendors that best suit their context.

The importance of Gartner’s evaluations stems from their meticulous research process, the clarity of their presentations, and their commitment to offering neutral, end-user-centric insights. For many organizations, these evaluations serve as a trusted compass in the complex journey of IT decision-making.

Beyond the code: APM is integral in the digital world

Application Performance Monitoring stands at the crossroads of technology excellence and optimal user experience. In an age where digital interactions define business success and customer loyalty, ensuring seamless application performance is non-negotiable.

APM tools provide organizations with the insights, proactive problem-solving, and data-driven strategies they need to meet and exceed user expectations consistently.

What is Splunk?

This posting does not necessarily represent Splunk's position, strategies or opinion.

Kayly Lange
Posted by

Kayly Lange

Kayly Lange is a freelance writer. As a tech and SaaS specialist, she enjoys helping companies achieve greater reach and success through informative articles. When she’s not writing, she enjoys being out in nature, cooking, and reading a wide range of novels. You can connect with Kayly on LinkedIn.