8 Key Features for Application Performance Monitoring

Walid Abou-Halloun

Posted by Walid Abou-Halloun Date: Jul 19, 2022 10:00:39 AM

As the infrastructure of the internet gets more crowded with users, experts have noticed that things are starting to slow down. This is why it’s more important than ever to have a handle on the performance of your applications.

If you’re not using application performance monitoring, your code could be coming to a grinding halt for users even as you read this. Application performance management (APM) monitors and manages the availability of your software applications and its performance.

The ultimate purpose of APM is twofold; firstly, to help you determine how your end users are experiencing your website or mobile application and secondly, to detect any application performance problems and then, through that data, provide actionable insights to diagnose and solve the issues.

When users interact with an application that moves too slowly, they tend to move on or start looking for something else. Applications that run too slowly can also gain a bad reputation amongst users. In a world where reputation matters, application performance monitoring will maintain your user base when it matters most.

Since user experience is the priority for any application, be sure that you have the best performance monitoring features installed on your system. To ensure your network, code and apps are all running smoothly you should consider including these 8 features in your toolkit.

1. Real User Monitoring

Recording all of the interaction that the end user has with your website or application, real user monitoring (RUM) is essential to any APM tool for a thorough and comprehensive monitoring of your website or application.

Used to gauge user experience along with collecting real time performance of your application, RUM monitors everything from website speed and load times to capturing and analysing every transaction of your application.

RUM is a great starting point for APM as it focuses on the direct relationship between site speed and user satisfaction, providing data driven actionable insights on ways you can optimise your application and improve the overall performance.

2. Application Dependency Usage

When your application starts to drag its feet, it could be a spike in popularity. Increased traffic means your server is working harder to communicate with users and answer their queries. It could also be an issue with one of your application’s dependencies such as;

  • Shared Cloud issues
  • Slow SQL queries
  • Failed HTTP web service calls.
  • Your host’s database server is down

While these issues might seem devastating, they could actually require simple solutions which can be picked up rather quickly through application performance management.

By tracking all of your exceptions in your application performance monitoring, you can get an overview of what’s going on. Obstructions or failures in your transactions will appear quickly on your APM tool when monitoring your dependencies.

Once you’ve pinpointed the issue, you can get to business.

3. Measuring Your Request and Transaction Performance

APM, at its core, is about measuring the performance of your application when running any kind of web request or transaction. With this information, you should then be able to understand and break down which requests require improvement or optimisation.

Quality APM tools will be able to tell you which requests are accessed most often, which ones are returning too slowly and the ones that require improvement. This can help your team begin to prioritize the tasks ahead for your next release.

While accessing and reviewing the performance logs is important, you should know that those logs won’t always give the whole story. The same data might be accessible from a web server access log.

You need to make sure that you have the right infrastructure and big data resources within your team that can understand why you’re having these problems with the application’s performance and to take the necessary steps to take to improve it.

4. Traces of Web Requests or Transactions

Once your code goes out to production, it’s a real pain to try to do any kind of troubleshooting. Transaction traces, available from various APM tools out there in the market, can help by revealing the details around exactly what is going wrong in your code, how long it takes and how your users are being effected.

Traces contain data around URL, the user making the request and the dependencies that your code called. You’ll get logging statements to help you find your way through the code along with any application errors that occurred.

5. Profiling in Performance Testing

The answers to why you’re having performance problems is likely to lie within your codebase. This is where you would usually find the reasons for why your application is running slowly, has bugs or is displaying errors.

Once it has been identified that the application has a performance problem, such as a server with a slow response time, profiling to identify the resource problem is the next strategy.

Through the use of a profiling tool within APM, you will be able to dig deep within your code tracking what your application is doing at the code level.

Profiling will help you find out if your app is slow due to dependencies, JIT, or garbage collection. You can also see which dependencies are being called at any given time. If your dependencies are giving you trouble, that might lead you to solve performance issues quickly.

Setting up performance profiling for your application performance monitoring can help you diagnose and fix bugs fast.

6. Custom Applications Metrics

Depending on your development team and their skillset, they may prefer to get or create their own custom metrics and tools that will add value to what they are trying to monitor or improve.

Your dev team knows your application best, so they will be the best people to ask when putting together custom metrics. Monitoring how many log messages come in per minute or how long a message takes to process are simple to create.

7. Application Logs

Developers love seeing logs. Log data can tell developers everything they need to know and more.

After your application is deployed, your log data is invaluable. Having an application performance monitoring system that can send logs will help developers build better releases.

Most APMs don’t support logs, but building a custom tool could be the answer!

8. Errors in Your Application

Within an application performance management system, the ability to have error tracking, reporting and alerts are critical to developers and their ability to respond quickly to errors. They need to be constantly watching for errors that occur, especially since they are the first instance for finding issues within an application.

Setting up alerts for errors as well as monitoring your overall error rates allows your developers to find issues before your customers do and start to tackling issues before they become a problem.

You can’t always rely on your customers potentially calling you to let you know that your application is giving them an error, so it’s important to keep your eyes open through your application performance monitoring tools.

Start doing more with your data.

Application performance monitoring tools provide the IT department with the information they need to find, isolate and troubleshoot errors that cause a bad user experience and negatively impact the performance of an application. These tools are a great resource that provide actionable insights from data.

One of the most important steps in any application performance monitoring initiative is combining siloed data into one comprehensive correlated view, which requires the right resources with the skillset and ability to do so.

If you would like to know more about the kind of skillset required for your next project contact us today.


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