Understanding Application Performance Management Software

In an intensely competitive business landscape, the importance of properly performing software cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, too many problems and software issues are only discovered once they have occurred on a user level, and by this time, the damage is already done. With proper application management, these types of issues can be discovered on a development or testing level, or they may be discovered in real-time before customers can be negatively impacted.

What is APM?

Application performance management (APM), in its simplest and broadest form, is exactly what it sounds like. It is a discipline within the IT fields that deals specifically with the monitoring and management of software application performance. However, with the recent explosion of APM software, particularly SaaS APMs, the discipline has become somewhat diluted and the true meaning of the term is not as clear as it once was.

More than anything, APM now seems to refer to a booming new industry in which services provide analytical data on application performance and the tools necessary to understand this data. The main goal is to understand the specifics of how an application performs so managers and developers can make decisions to improve performance, as well as to diagnose, prevent and fix issues.

APM could also refer to application performance monitoring, but this is essentially the same thing. Any software that only provides a collection of data on application problems, without providing any necessary comparisons or tools to fix the problem would be relatively useless, at least when compared to the best application performance management software.

How does APM software work?

The main goal of any APM software is to provide the necessary information that developers need to maintain and improve any application. This information is collected on a number of various levels, including the performance, availability and user experience of any given application or set of applications. The software should then help the user compile the information and compare it to previous statistics, and it should include many features geared specifically at identifying, isolating and resolving problems before they occur.

How could APM software be beneficial?

While different APM software solutions will offer different levels of information and support, any good APM system should include a few key elements, including performance metrics, metric comparison and issue diagnosis. There are many different performance metrics collected by APM software that can be useful, but a few of the most common include:

- Request time on server
- CPU, memory and other server usage information
- Number of simultaneous queries/users
- Detailed individual web request traces
- Number of pages per second
- Transaction volumes
- Any other relevant performance indicators

In addition to providing the raw data in real-time, the software should also keep track of previous measurements for comparison purposes. Seeing what may look like a high transaction volume or slow page load time may not be that useful if you have nothing to compare it to. The APM software should then provide specific tools on how to identify and isolate problems, so developers are able to easily test and resolve issues.

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