What is application performance monitoring?

Application performance monitoring describes the tracking of vital metrics to ensure that software meets performance, availability, and UX standards.

In today’s highly connected, extremely digitalized world, there is a lot riding on apps. Modern software needs to be able to do more than simply perform specific functions; it needs to bring constant value, always remain available, respond immediately to user requests, and provide a flawless user experience. And this goes beyond the downloadable apps that customers pack onto their mobile devices. Business applications drive the day-to-day work of organizations in all industries. As such, ensuring that their software tools and programs are functioning optimally has become a major concern for companies of all sizes.

When applications become integral to business (both externally and internally), organizations need an effective and comprehensive way to oversee their essential software. Application performance monitoring may be the answer.

Application performance monitoring places software performance under a microscope. With application performance monitoring, businesses can continuously monitor application performance and availability, while also tracking and improving the end-user experience.

Apps are everywhere. This is even more true today than it was only a few years ago, with a growing number of customers choosing to shop, interact with businesses, and manage their finances remotely rather than face to face. Many companies have likewise seen an internal shift, where business applications are increasingly being used to support remote-working initiatives and other important tasks. 

When these apps are slow to respond, suffer from unexpected crashes, fail to operate correctly, or simply fall below user expectations, the damage to the business may be significant. Users want software that is dependable and intuitive. Unfortunately, optimizing application performance is often a complex and time-consuming job. With potentially hundreds of different applications being fielded at once, made up of millions of lines of code each, and comprising interconnected services, solutions, and hosting environments, the sheer number of issues that can negatively impact app performance are staggering.

Application performance monitoring empowers organizations with the visibility they need to peer into the heart of their applications and dependencies, and to easily identify and root out issues before they can create problems. This allows for many different business benefits:

Reduced incidents

Gathering real-time performance data on vital applications, companies gain a detailed picture of problem areas within the software, as well as other variables that may be causing unexpected problems. With this information, IT can adapt the application environment and identify and resolve issues across the board, effectively eliminating incidents before they occur.

Faster remediation

Because of their increased complexity, it’s little wonder that applications experience unforeseen problems. Application performance monitoring keeps constant tabs on software programs, so that organizations receive immediate notification for any issues that might emerge. With application performance monitoring, businesses can quickly locate root causes and take action to find a resolution.

Optimized collaboration

The best application performance monitoring solutions provide companies with a single source of truth. With reliable, agreed-upon insights, teams across departments can more easily align their efforts and improve how they work together. This not only creates a better end product; it also establishes a more rewarding and satisfying job environment for those involved.

Elevated innovation

As an added benefit to improved collaboration, teams can apply their aligned vision towards improving how they operate. Decision makers in different departments have access to the same reliable information, creating a solid foundation for brainstorming and innovation.

Improved user satisfaction

Although there are other tools for gathering relevant application data, few are capable of putting businesses in the perspective of the end user. application performance monitoring eschews second and third-order metrics, and instead looks directly at the performance metrics that users notice. At the same time, by facilitating faster releases, better products, and improved availability, application performance monitoring helps companies meet the expectations of the users. This allows for a level of customer satisfaction beyond what is often possible with more traditional monitoring.

Just as applications exist to perform a nearly limitless number of functions, application performance monitoring must be capable of encompassing a broad range of use cases. With this in mind, some of the core functionalities of modern application performance monitoring are as follows:

End-to-end transparency and monitoring

To understand how applications are behaving and what variables may be affecting their performance, application performance monitoring tracks the complete transactional behavior and history. This includes CPU usage, response times, error rates, request rates, number of instances, and uptime. With a full picture and complete transparency into application performance, business can see exactly how apps are impacting outcomes and the overall user experience.

Graphic outlining the core functionalities of Application Performance monitoring.

Root-cause identification

Being able to see directly into how apps are performing also reveals where problems exist, or where they might exist in the future. Organizations can easily identify where on their journey users are becoming frustrated or applications are failing to meet expectations. These causes may also be analyzed to determine exactly what kind of an impact they represent for the business.

Application performance monitoring has the capacity to help companies optimize their application efficiency and effectiveness. That said, to enjoy its full advantages, organizations must support application performance monitoring with the right tools and processes. Here are several tips on how to get more out of application performance monitoring:

Pick the right tools

Given the range of benefits associated with application performance monitoring, it’s no surprise that there are so many application performance monitoring tools currently available. When considering an application performance monitoring option, lean towards those that provide a complete solution capable of monitoring the entire infrastructure stack in the correct language for the apps in question. Top application performance monitoring tools are also extremely user-experience focused, and capture relevant data to create informed, actionable insights that help organizations connect software performance to important business outcomes.

Create automatic alerts

Application performance monitoring is designed to monitor apps, but it’s up to teams within the department to take decisive action based on the information that application performance monitoring provides. To ensure that important insights aren’t overlooked, businesses are advised to set automated alerts within their application monitoring tool based on predetermined metrics. When an unexpected deviation occurs, alerts allow teams to act immediately.

Establish internal processes

To be effective, application performance monitoring must be able to work within a business’ existing processes. If these processes are unclear, not fully established, or constantly changing, then the benefits of application performance are likely to be less profound.

Define the right rules

Although there are certain out of the box application performance monitoring tools that may provide useful insight into software performance, the more effective solutions will be those that are configurable to specific business needs. Work within the application performance monitoring to define what behavior is ‘normal,’ and what constitutes a deviation, so that alerts are always relevant to business outcome.

Deploy across the entire organization

There are groups and individuals within the organization who will need to be most thoroughly acquainted with the application performance monitoring. These include developers and IT teams who are personally responsible for deploying the tool and addressing any potential issues. But for a more comprehensive solution, application performance monitoring can be deployed across the entire organization. Collaborating and understanding the intrinsic connection between app performance and business success, the company can benefit.

Application performance monitoring is sometimes confused with application performance management. But where application performance monitoring is dedicated to tracking specific metrics, application performance management takes a broader approach.

Application performance management describes the discipline of developing and managing an entire application performance strategy, which includes (but is not limited to) monitoring. Effective application performance management tools include application performance monitoring, allowing organizations to review essential metrics across a range of applications and services, and then use those metrics to identify and remediate performance issues across the entire application suite.

Across industries and regions, for companies large and small, applications are the ambassadors that bridge the gap between users and business outcomes. Application performance monitoring gives organizations the clear insight they need to track software operational efficiency and capability. But it can only take businesses so far. At the same time, the threats of application sprawl and lack of central control are necessitating a tighter rein on software, even while pressure to increase software investments builds. To truly optimize the overall impact of essential applications, businesses need Application Portfolio Management from ServiceNow.

Built on the award-winning Now Platform®, Application Portfolio Management considers every application in use by an organization and creates a comprehensive inventory based on four major areas of concern: business capability planning, application rationalization, information usage, and technology risk management. Decision makers can then use these areas to generate opportunities and solutions to align technology decisions with business strategy. And, because Application Portfolio Management works with data from other integrated IT workflows, users can enjoy more accurate, more thorough information from across a broader ecosystem.

See how the correct approach to monitoring and management can revolutionize the way your apps work for your business. Try ServiceNow Application Portfolio Management today!

Get started with Strategic Portfolio Management

See for yourself how ServiceNow is leading the KPI revolution and get ready to guide your business towards success.

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