Whereas the application performance management (APM) industry has seen remarkable growth over the past couple of years, it is still relatively small as far as the number of vendors is concerned. There are slightly over a dozen significant players each of whom provide a range of features that can help monitor the availability and performance of applications.

Despite this small pool that includes leaders such as CA APM and Retrace from Stackify, choosing an APM tool isn’t easy since the products seem to share numerous features. It doesn’t have to be that way though. By paying close attention to the capabilities that matter the most, you can quickly come up with a shortlist of the two or three APM solutions that will come closest to fitting your requirements. Here are five features to focus on.

1. General and Granular Application Topology View

A successful APM tool not only provides a high level view of the application environment but also allows analysis of more specific aspects such as business function, location, owner and application. To achieve this, the APM solution must have built in advanced logic including multidimensional analysis and search.

Users can pivot on different components and aggregate problems that share common characteristics. Such search and analysis capabilities become especially important for dynamic environments such as microservice, containers and cloud application architectures.

2. Recognizes Change

Many app problems boil down to changes in the system environment such as performance degradation, elastic changes or new code/build. The APM tool should chart change over time and how the changes impact application performance.

It should show changes in one view while making it easy to depict performance before and after the change occurred. Overlaying change, topology and performance may require the use of multidimensional search and analysis mechanisms.

3. Comprehensive Coverage

Numerous new apps are introduced to the market daily and some of these will affect the functionality of your application. A good APM tool should scale and monitor new apps from containers, cloud, web, mobile and web.

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APM solutions must provide diverse APIs that allow the input, extraction and customization of data from multiple sources. They should also adjust topology views and streamline monitoring techniques in a way that does not burden the already limited container environment.

4. Optimized Customer Experience

Businesses ride on customer satisfaction. At a time when digital transformation is causing a shift in many enterprises, the alignment of marketing, application management and IT operations to deliver great customer experiences across digital channels is vital.

The ideal APM solution should therefore combine elements of user behavior (such as usage and retention rates) with actual performance data (memory, CPU, transaction, crashes etc.) to optimize the customer journey.

5. Intuitive Intelligence

Development and production environments are fast-paced. There’s no guarantee that the system conditions of yesterday will hold or be relevant today. This complexity and speed of change can be overwhelming to the average APM user. And simple questions such as establishing whether daily application performance is as per user expectation can be difficult to answer.

Change visualization and tracking aids do help but aren’t always effective. The best APM solutions can sift through vast volumes of data to create actionable outcomes by leveraging various intelligence techniques such as algorithmic baselines, pattern recognition, built-in expertise and analytics.

Your choice of an APM solution is just as important as your decision on what application to go for. If you do not or cannot keep track of how well the application works, you are unlikely to reap the maximum benefit from your technology investment. Selecting a vendor that meets these five capabilities will improve overall performance and speed triage.


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