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In the modern business world, the importance of computer applications cannot be understated. Applications are a major part of the digital backbone that critical business functions rest upon, and most businesses today rely on at least one application delivered by external vendors for essential daily tasks. Most corporate divisions, including accounting, distribution, sales, marketing, and human resources, use their own set of apps — adding even more applications from various vendors for companies to worry about.
This creates a necessity for companies to monitor and manage the performance of their applications to ensure these critical business tools are meeting customer demands. Organizations need to closely observe their application performance in order to satisfy their service-level agreements. To solve this problem, IT leaders and executives should look to application performance monitoring (APM) solutions to keep their business applications in check and cover a number of unique use cases.
What essential features and capabilities can an APM solution provide for your business? Below, we’ve listed eight potential use cases for application performance monitoring solutions that your company needs to consider.
Application performance management
The basic function of all application performance monitoring tools, application performance management is one of the chief use cases for adopting an APM solution into your infrastructure. APM tools continuously monitor and analyze all applications in your infrastructure, no matter where they’re located and what their function is. Users gain deep insights into analytics and metrics for each application, such as uptime and downtime, traffic, response time, error rate, and CPU usage. Most tools feature customizable reporting capabilities — so you gain insights on the metrics that matter most to your business. By tracking application performance over time, your business can fix any performance issues to keep your customers happy.
Network and infrastructure performance management
Many APM vendors also offer separate solutions for network and infrastructure performance management or include application monitoring in a suite of monitoring services. Depending on your APM solution, you can ensure that your applications aren’t producing a negative effect on your network or the rest of your infrastructure. Since applications can take up a sizable chunk of network resources, your enterprise must ensure that you have the proper infrastructure to support your business applications. Alternatively, you may have a network monitoring solution that contains APM capabilities. These tools usually examine application performance from a network perspective, showing you how your business apps are affecting network performance and security.
Application security monitoring
In addition to keeping your application performance up, an essential task for companies that APM tools solve is application security. The majority of APM vendors include application security monitoring and management features with their solutions to help companies keep their applications locked down tight. Application security monitoring tools examine your applications and infrastructure to look for security vulnerabilities, with capabilities such as penetration testing, runtime attack blocking, and full-stack application security context. Your APM tool can deliver information about security threats in real-time, giving you insights into the type of security incident, level of risk, and affected apps and resources. Most security-focused APM solutions feature proactive security monitoring, so you can discover potential security issues before they become a problem.
User experience monitoring
Increasingly, enterprises are looking to user experience as a key metric that determines how well their applications are performing. Modern APM tools contain user experience and digital experience monitoring features that observe application performance from a user’s perspective. Instead of just focusing on back-end performance analysis, monitoring application user experience allows your company to understand exactly how satisfied end-users are with your apps. By focusing on real user statistics, your business can take steps to correct performance where applications aren’t meeting the expectations of your end-users.
Configuration assurance testing
When your company deploys new applications or updates them or reconfigures a part of your infrastructure that your applications rely on, you need to check that your systems and apps aren’t negatively affected by the change. Application performance monitoring allows you to constantly check how your apps are operating, including before and after a reconfiguration. The majority of APM vendors allow you to examine both real-time and historical application performance data, letting you correlate the difference between the performance of your apps pre-configuration and post-configuration. By testing your applications before and after a change to your infrastructure, you can assure end-users and company executives that application performance isn’t being harmed by routine changes and fixes.
Application development and DevOps
For DevOps and application development teams, application performance monitoring is a critical function for testing and reconfiguring apps for maximum efficiency. At all stages of the application pipeline, DevOps professionals want to ensure that their apps are performing up to their standards, particularly in the post-development phase where the company is launching the app to customers. Development teams can use APM tools to monitor the status of applications and test builds during the design and building process or examine end-user data of deployed apps to determine what changes need to be made in future updates.
Applications often place a huge strain on your network because they require a lot of resources. If your network is already overloaded and can’t always provide the necessary bandwidth to your critical business applications, those applications will inevitably see a drop in performance. To avoid this from happening, performance monitoring solution providers that provide both network and application monitoring capabilities also include quality of service (QoS) monitoring. This function ensures that your network has the necessary resources available to run essential applications at full performance at all times.
CloudOps and cloud-native applications
An increasing number of businesses are producing cloud-native applications, or apps that run via a cloud platform (such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform). To address the increasing amount of cloud deployments and cloud-based business applications, many APM vendors are either adding integrations with cloud platforms or focusing exclusively on cloud apps. Alongside this, a number of hyper-scale cloud providers are delivering native APM services with their platforms, letting users monitor their applications during the design, building, and deployment phases from the cloud dashboard. This is a huge benefit to CloudOps teams and app developers that focus on developing applications powered by the cloud.
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