In a business landscape where competition is fierce, the time between development and deployment is ever more compressed, and customer retention matters most, it pays to do everything in your power to ensure that your software delivers a steady baseline of performance, 24/7. This is particularly true of web-based applications, where consistent speed and uptime is expected, although frequently disrupted. And that’s where APM, or application performance management, comes in.
What Exactly Is APM
Simply put, application performance management is the art of managing the performance, availability, and user experience of software applications. APM monitors the speed at which transactions are performed both by end-users and by the systems and network infrastructure that support a software application, providing an end-to-end overview of potential bottlenecks and service interruptions. In pragmatic terms, this typically involves the use of a suite of software tools—or a single integrated SaaS or on-premises tool—to view and diagnose an application’s speed, reliability, and other performance metrics in order to maintain an optimal level of service. Load testing, synthetic monitoring and real-user monitoring, and root-cause analysis are a few of the primary tools to be found in a well-rounded approach to APM. Another significant component of APM is web performance monitoring (WPM), or the use of web-monitoring tools to gauge app speed and uptime. In less pragmatic terms, however, APM is ultimately a perspective—an analytical view brought to bear on every aspect of software performance in order to clearly understand, and continuously improve, the end-user experience.
While everyone in the software industry seems to be using the term APM these days, not everyone agrees on what it means. Some popular alternative translations of the APM acronym include application performance monitoring and application performance measurement, and each suggests a slightly different interpretation of what APM is all about. Application performance monitoring emphasizes the technical essence of APM—i.e., using a bevy of automated tools like AlertSite to continuously monitor website, app, or system performance—while application performance measurement shifts the meaning toward the actual data metrics that are produced by such monitoring. (A fourth common use of APM is application portfolio management, which is quite different from the others. This APM is about generating bird’s-eye-view maps and metrics of the different software applications in any company’s portfolio in order to gain a clear view on how they are impacting business goals, and is used mostly in the context of strategic planning and generating IT inventories.)
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