Applications

Confession: We’re Not Using APM to its Potential

February 5, 2020

Confession: We’re Not Using APM to its Potential

After years of application developers only using application performance management (APM) technology during development, today’s modern application stack has expanded to include containerized and multi-cloud environments. This evolution has catapulted the technology into production use and, thus, the IT operations mainstream.

As environments became more complex, APM’s ability to optimize performance, ensure availability, and plan capacity remained tried and true. But while it’s taken its rightful place in the IT toolbox, and the benefits are clear, SolarWinds Cloud Confessions 2020 found APM isn’t being used to its potential.

The study revealed—even though APM has the potential to proactively optimize environments—78% of tech pros spend less than 10% of their time doing so (despite nearly nine in 10 using APM tools). We dug deeper into this reality spanning developers, application owners, and support teams and found confidence, awareness, and training are the top obstacles.

Exploring the Contradictions

Overall, 84% of tech pros are confident using APM for managing application and infrastructure performance. More specifically, this applies across traditional on-premises architectures (59%), N-tier service-oriented architectures (40%), and microservices (39%). They support APM strategies through database monitoring (64%), application monitoring (63%), and infrastructure monitoring (61%).

On the surface, this seems like great news for APM. But in reality, APM is being underutilized. Tech pros only apply APM when troubleshooting critical applications. To move from reactive to proactive, they need to get out of their comfort zone, go beyond troubleshooting, and leverage APM across more applications.

So, what’s stopping them from reaching a higher level of APM maturity? The answer lies in what they report as the top three APM challenges:

  1. Lack of training for personnel (57%)
  2. Lack of awareness of what APM solutions are currently offered (44%)
  3. Confusion over which currently offered APM solutions are best for our needs (42%)

So now the picture is clearer that tech pros—from developers to application owners to support teams—are using APM tools the way they know how. Until they learn more, are better trained on APM tools, and get a better understanding of their options, troubleshooting will reign supreme.

Communicating Business Performance

The good news is, the desire to use APM beyond troubleshooting is high. Tech pros report they value the business insights APM tools deliver, including the ability to: prevent outages (73%), prevent app slowdown related to performance and/or capacity (63%), and improve user/customer experience (62%).

A critical part of their APM skills development, tech pros need to bridge the gap between business metrics collected and the confidence to communicate performance to the business. Thirty-four percent feel they need to improve their current ability to track impact across key business metrics to better manage their organization’s IT environment (the top answer).

Once aware and more thoroughly trained, tech pros will get beyond troubleshooting critical applications and open performance optimization possibilities across the stack and previously siloed teams. The more applications APM is applied to, the more its full potential will be realized.


Jim Hansen is the vice president of products, application management, at SolarWinds, bringing over 20 years of experience building and delivering simple and easy-to-use software solutions. Jim is passionate about customers, understanding their needs, and delivering solutions that make their jobs easier and their infrastructures easier to manage and secure. He joined SolarWinds in August 2018 to help build the security portfolio, and has since been focused on growing the application management business—designed to help IT professionals and developers manage and monitor the health and performance of their application infrastructures.