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How to Ensure and Optimize Application Performance

Application performance management (APM) involves managing the availability and performance of software applications by obtaining and translating IT and application metrics into business outcomes. Because application performance hiccups are inevitable, it’s crucial to have a robust APM solution in place so IT teams can resolve problems faster and more efficiently, lessening (or eliminating) the impact on users and the bottom line. One factor muddling application performance optimization is the speed of change. On-premises and cloud infrastructures are growing at an exponential pace. In addition, workloads are moving to the cloud while individual elements are continuously and dynamically reconfiguring, complicating the job for most understaffed and overworked IT departments. But users don’t care. Their demands are seemingly simple: they expect the applications they’re using to be responsive and lightning fast. Of course, the onus is on IT teams to make it happen. The top applications are also important to the C-level. Business outcomes and revenue are often tied to achieving efficiencies and productivity gains no matter where the software resides or how obscured the infrastructure supporting those applications.

Without a Window Into Infrastructure, Optimization Is Elusive

However, lack of visibility into infrastructure stacks—and the applications using them—presents significant challenges. It’s necessary to have a crystal-clear view of the various layers (including hosts, hypervisors, containers, microservices, databases, storage, and networks) and an integrated APM solution. Otherwise, IT teams can’t see or quickly troubleshoot issues across these elements. With integrated APM solutions, application-level assessments such as response time, load patterns and transactional work accomplished are easy to identify. And, importantly, resource usage metrics for all relevant, associated infrastructure is also available. All this information is necessary to ensure application performance and achieve optimal utilization (cost). Since APM tools collect billions of data points, you’ll receive continuous, detailed performance metrics for every aspect of your technology stack, helping you ascertain when an application is experiencing problems and—more importantly—why. Without APM, observability into and across all that matters is simply impossible.

How APM Benefits IT Organizations

Aside from visibility into performance metrics across application and infrastructure environments, APM offers a myriad of tangible benefits to improve the experience for every user in the organization. Locational diagnostic insightsAPM allows you to monitor app performance regardless of location or device. Proactively, it can determine when potential issues are “ramping up” but have not yet impacted end users. And, when problems arise, you can pinpoint and address issues before users complain. Meet SLAs—APM also provides real-time reporting on SLA compliance in the context of end users and transactional work to measure how applications impact the business. Manage costs—Additionally, APM allows you to better predict peaks and valleys in application demand and associated resource consumption, so you can manage the capacity of your capital-intensive resources (whether CapEx for on-premises, or OpEx for cloud).

How APM Supports In-House Teams

Using a centralized tool offers teams access to the same data for use across the application life cycle, including pre-deployment into production. This accessibility allows
  • support teams to provide faster, more proactive, and thus higher value customer service;
  • developers to control the application quality and deliver a better user experience;
  • quality control to conduct load testing to deliver product consistency;
  • operations to monitor and ensure code quality to mitigate future performance issues and reduce mean time to resolution (MTTR) by more quickly identifying and remediating performance issues;
  • product managers to determine the rate at which users are adopting new features; and
  • business leaders to track business transactions based on production application behavior.

What to Look for in Application Optimization Solutions

Regardless of system complexity, a successful diagnosis depends on having a holistic view of your application environment. Look for products designed to track application performance and each element of the application and underlying IT infrastructure such as database, server, virtual host, and container, so you know when issues arise. While evaluating vendors, look for a solution capable of delivering in-depth, code-level monitoring of app and database performance to help your IT team visualize bottlenecks and identify occasions when end-user experiences don’t meet SLA expectations. Features like heat maps can isolate outliers and trends, enabling IT operations to drill down and identify the root cause. Whether you’d like to simplify complicated IT processes or proactively monitor and maintain your application environment, you’ll spend less time troubleshooting and remediating performance issues with a modern application optimization solution.
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Dave Wagner
Dave Wagner is a senior manager of product marketing at SolarWinds with over 20 years of experience focused on IT performance and optimization. In his…
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