Application performance management (APM) used to be considered a niche discipline, but it’s rapidly become an essential tool in the modern IT leader’s toolbox. So while APM itself isn’t new, it is new enough that best practices are only now starting to coalesce as organizations embrace APM as part of their regular duties.
So what can IT leaders just starting out with APM learn from how are others are harnessing the power of APM to maximize IT’s business impact?
The new peer paper, APM: Best Practices – 10 Tips from Real Users, highlights emerging best practices for getting the most out of your APM investment. And, since these best practices are drawn from real user experiences as reported on IT Central Station—the leading product review site for APM and other enterprise IT solutions—we think you’ll find these insights particularly valuable.
Here’s a sneak peek of just a few of the tips for ensuring successful APM implementation and adoption that you can read more about in this paper:
Understand the Business Factors Behind APM Requirements
Given the moment-to-moment technical demands today’s DevOps teams face, it’s easy to lose sight of an application’s true role: to serve the business. When applications slow down, so does the business—so it’s critical to first understand the business factors behind APM.
As one Software Engineer explained, “Where do the customers feel the pain the most? Start with that and then start instrumenting those [applications]. Before you turn on APM, think about what’s important to you. Start with a subset that is critical to your business. Understand it from a customer perspective. Don’t look at it from an operational perspective.”
Leverage APM Insights for the Business
Superficial problems in business operations tend to have root causes. In an organization undergoing a digital transformation, root causes often appear deep in the IT stack that support business processes. APM can help the IT department discover the application roots of an operational problem and provide a path to remediation.
One APM user offered additional insights into how this can work, saying, “The ability [of APM] to identify the stalled and error transactions in real time, and be able to investigate it, pick up the trends—that’s one of the useful things. Because we use that as part of our root cause analysis and as a proactive, as well as a reactive way, to look at the incident and see what we can do to fix it.”
Focus on Configuration and Deployment
IT Central Station members report that APM tools work best when the IT department focuses closely on configuration and deployment, and is careful to avoid accidentally over-provisioning.
As a Vice President of Operations & Client Support at a tech services company noted, “You can’t over-speak to the importance of deployment, configuration and infrastructure footprint because what happens is that people get excited when they see the output of various products. They say, ‘wow, it’s very powerful, we’ve never had visibility, we’re going to implement at all costs.’ Then they buy the solution and they realize they need 5X the amount of servers, a lot of storage, experts to manage it, etc.”
Many APM tools feature auto-discovery, which is a favorite of APM users on IT Central Station. This capability is also particularly useful in monitoring loosely coupled application elements like web services and microservices.
A Chief Architect at an aerospace/defense firm with over 1,000 employees explained how he uses this feature: “With the auto-discovery feature, you can install an agent in one place and this product shows you what it’s talking to.” Through auto discovery, you can quickly and effortlessly get an overview of your application topology and easily determine where to focus your APM priorities.
Understand Your ROI
Just like any IT investment, APM needs to show a return in order to be considered a success. So, it’s helpful to anticipate the request from Finance to prove the return on investment (ROI) before the technology is even acquired.
While ROI can be measured with non-monetary metrics, it is best if the ROI metrics can be quantified. A Production Operations Systems Administrator III at a software R&D company spoke to this, saying, “We are still in the process of completing our ROI calculations, but we already have examples of a 89% reduction in MTTR for one application… and a multitude of examples of money saved in others, including savings of around $150,000 for one particular issue that we were almost set to throw more hardware / software at.”
New architectural styles, with their loose coupling and rapid development cycles, create an urgent need for application performance monitoring. And while these new types of applications are good for business in terms of cost-effective development and IT agility, their increased complexity does make them challenging to monitor. Using these proven best practices, however, you can leverage APM to more effectively meet SLAs and manage IT operations more efficiently.
Discover More Tips from Real APM Users
For more real-world insights into how you can use APM to drive DevOps success and accelerate business performance, download the paper APM: Best Practices – 10 Tips from Real Users.