Best Practices and Tools for Setting Up an Effective Application Monitoring Strategy

by Vijay K

As software applications become more sophisticated and distributed across multiple platforms, flawless performance is now a user expectation. Downtime can result in lost revenue, dissatisfied customers, and harm to reputation. To prevent these negative outcomes, organizations must adopt an effective application performance monitoring strategy that uses the latest tools and best practices to proactively monitor and identify root causes of performance issues in real-time.

The first step to effective monitoring of business-critical applications is to identify the most critical applications that require monitoring. But also defining the performance metrics that matter most to your business objectives. Once these key performance indicators (KPIs) are defined, monitoring tools can be configured to track and report on these metrics in real-time. This requires careful consideration of your unique business needs, technical requirements, and budget constraints. For instance, you may need a tool that can monitor applications in complex environments, such as multi-cloud or hybrid-cloud infrastructures.

Let’s examine how implementing an effective application monitoring strategy for business-critical applications is crucial for running a thriving and competitive business.

Why is an Application Monitoring Strategy Important?

Effective application monitoring is a crucial aspect of IT infrastructure. It can also be challenging due to its intricate dependencies and complexities. Its implementation has to be more nuanced and tailored, unlike server and device monitoring which follows established protocols. This includes needing an elaborate strategy with the right tools and adapting practices like removing information silos between teams to guarantee an effective performance in development and maintenance.

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An effective monitoring strategy can provide numerous benefits. These include ensuring quality control, yielding insights on performance and efficiency, staying within post-deployment budgets, and increasing visibility into real-world user interactions. The key to a sound strategy is consistent and proactive monitoring and identification of performance issues in real-time. This is to service blackouts, maintenance breaks, or other disruptions. 

Effective application performance monitoring also requires investment in the right tools and practices. This is to remain competitive and deliver a reliable and high-quality user experience. Any haphazard approach cobbled together from mix-and-match monitoring tools without a coherent strategy, can be misleading, leave gaps in knowledge and lead to ingrained inefficiency.

Best Practices for Application Monitoring

When setting up an application monitoring suite, it’s important to keep in mind some of the best practices below: 

Automate Your Monitoring

Automating your monitoring can help you quickly identify trends in your system and respond to spikes and dips in data. This is crucial for ensuring application performance and uptime, especially when it comes to responding to load demands on your infrastructure. With automation, you can set up automated alerting and load balancing, which can respond faster than a human notification.

Use Trusted Third-Party Monitoring Solutions

To prevent faults and errors in your system, it’s important to choose a monitoring solution that has been rigorously tested in your environment. Using a trusted third-party solution can reduce the risk of creating more avenues for errors in your system. What’s more, make sure that the solution partners you choose offer comprehensive support and maintenance to ensure maximum uptime for your systems. 

Pick the Correct Metrics

Choosing the right metrics to monitor is essential for getting a complete picture of your application’s performance. The most important metrics to track include average response time, error rates, request rate, application and server CPU, and memory usage. By monitoring these metrics, you can quickly identify areas for improvement and optimize your system for better performance.

Set Up Alerts

Once you’ve set up automation and chosen the right metrics to monitor, it’s important to set up alerts to ensure that you don’t miss any critical data. Professional monitoring tools offer highly customizable alerting options that can detect anomalous or unhealthy spikes in your data. Make sure that these alerts are going somewhere they will be seen and acted on as quickly as possible.

Pick the Right Tool

When selecting a monitoring tool, you must settle on a  solution that can effectively manage your applications, and how you use them. Look for a tool that offers software-level integration, which allows the tool to work alongside your applications to analyze your infrastructure at the code level using plugins and logging metrics. The availability of integrations is often a deciding factor when selecting a monitoring solution. Make sure that all of your applications are compatible with the tool you choose.

How to Implement an Application Monitoring Strategy

To gain a true understanding of what is happening within your IT infrastructure, it is important to monitor the ability of apps to integrate. Before developing your application monitoring strategy, it is helpful to view application monitoring as physical and virtual layers and to organize your monitoring strategy accordingly. Monitor each layer of the application,

Treat Application Monitoring as a Fact-Checking Exercise

To fully monitor the growing number of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and anything-as-a-service (XaaS) offerings, it’s essential to use multiple sources. Although built-in monitoring is a great feature, it shouldn’t be the only source of truth. By using an IT infrastructure monitoring service on a different cloud, you can act as a watchdog to catch any discrepancies in performance or service level agreements (SLAs).

This will allow you to compare data from various sources, including the app vendor’s promises versus the app’s actual performance. Independent monitoring software can provide valuable data when the app’s built-in monitoring fails.

Monitoring app performance not only helps ensure that it’s functioning properly, but it can also provide valuable data when negotiating contract renewals with SaaS or application providers. By keeping your performance records, you’ll have concrete evidence of whether the vendor delivered on their promises regarding uptime and other SLAs.

Understand the Language of the App

Apps come in different flavors, but the advantage is that they all communicate using a shared language. When you concentrate on the language that an application uses, you can adopt a different approach to monitoring that allows you to consider the application’s protocol from a more comprehensive perspective. What protocols is the app using? HTTP, JSON, SSH, HTML, or SNMP? What kind of data does it store and does it provide an API? What programming languages can you extract from it?

Rather than becoming preoccupied with labeling an app as a “transportation logistics app” or a “food service app,” focusing on the shared language is essential. This will enable your IT infrastructure monitoring system to work with the application’s protocol more effectively.

Monitoring Should Consider the App’s Operating Environment

To get a comprehensive understanding of your IT infrastructure, you should have an application monitoring strategy that can answer critical questions. “What’s each component doing?” and “How’s the component performing?”, for instance. Although a reputable application provider’s solution is very unlikely to suffer a total system failure, it’s essential to ensure that it functions at peak capacity at all times.

To gain insight into the underlying reasons for an app’s performance, it’s important to consider all the surrounding factors that can be monitored. A robust application monitoring strategy should include data and analytics on the key factors that can impact app performance for faster problem resolution. If an app is underperforming, investigate the data related to its surroundings, such as the server, power source, and internet bandwidth. This is to determine whether they are impacting app performance and take corrective action accordingly.

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Challenges in Typical Application Monitoring

Application Performance Monitoring (APM) is the process of monitoring and managing the performance and availability of software applications. APM helps organizations ensure that their applications are running smoothly and delivering a high-quality user experience. However, there are several challenges associated with APM. These can make it difficult for organizations to implement and maintain an effective application performance monitoring strategy.

Some of the key challenges of APM include:

  • Complexity: Modern applications are complex, distributed, and dynamic, which makes it challenging to monitor their performance.
  • Lack of visibility: Traditional monitoring tools often lack visibility into the entire application stack. It can make it difficult to identify and resolve performance issues.
  • Scalability: As applications and infrastructure grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to scale APM solutions to keep up with the growth.
  • Skill gaps: Hiring and retaining skilled APM professionals can be a costly and time-consuming process for organizations.
  • Cost: Implementing and maintaining APM solutions can be expensive, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.
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Why Application Performance Monitoring as a Managed Service Is the Future of IT Operations

Application Performance Monitoring (APM) is a critical aspect of ensuring the smooth functioning of digital applications. However, implementing and maintaining an APM solution in-house can be a challenging task. They require a significant investment in terms of time, resources, and expertise.

One solution to this challenge is to use a Managed APM service. It can provide companies with access to expert APM monitoring, management, and reporting. Managed APM services offer a range of benefits, including:

Expertise

Managed APM services provide companies with access to APM specialists who have experience in monitoring and analyzing applications, identifying issues, and recommending solutions.

Scalability

As applications become more complex, the amount of data generated by APM tools can quickly become overwhelming. Managed APM services can scale up or down to meet the specific needs of a company’s applications and infrastructure, ensuring that it remains effective.

Cost Savings

Managed APM services can reduce costs associated with maintaining and upgrading in-house APM solutions. These include licensing fees, hardware costs, and staffing expenses.

Proactive Issue Resolution

Managed APM services can identify and resolve issues before they impact end-users, providing peace of mind to IT managers.

That said, there are also potential disadvantages to using Managed APM services, including:

Lack of Control

Companies may not have the same level of control over their APM solution when using a managed service. It can be a disadvantage for companies that require greater flexibility and customization.

Security Concerns

Managed APM services involve sharing sensitive application data with a third-party provider, which can raise security concerns for some companies.

Dependency

Companies that use Managed APM services may become dependent on the service provider, potentially making it difficult to switch providers or bring the APM solution in-house if needed.

Managed APM services can provide significant benefits to companies that require expert APM monitoring and management. However, they may not have the resources or expertise to implement and maintain an APM solution in-house. However, there are also potential disadvantages that must be carefully considered before deciding to use a Managed APM service. 

If you could also have a hybrid strategy combining an in-house system relying on APM tools and managed services working simultaneously. This is the ideal approach if you want to minimize downtime but also overcome the drawbacks of relying on a managed service. 

APM tools enable users to monitor and track software or web application performance, detecting and addressing any issues that may arise. APM products can take in custom performance metrics and indicators to establish a baseline and monitor applications for a variance from the baseline. Big data and business analytics tools like Dynatrace and AppDynamics facilitate standard APM capabilities such as application, infrastructure, and end-user monitoring. It is suitable for firms of all sizes as it makes it easy to view these metrics and visualize them for both technical and non-technical audiences. 

Conclusion

Optimizing application performance is critical to maintaining clients and achieving business productivity. This is particularly important given that users often engage directly with applications, making infrastructure problems like brownouts and overall performance degradation a significant issue. To detect and mitigate such issues, organizations need to invest in modern application performance monitoring (APM) solutions that are based on real insights and sound strategy from the DevOps stage through to the maintenance phases. Developing these reliable APM systems requires a dependable partner ecosystem that can provide a comprehensive approach to utilizing all data produced by the monitoring solution.

Practical Logix facilitates ongoing application monitoring by embedding powerful analytics into the application and cloud infrastructure to help optimize applications in all phases of development. Our solutions enable ongoing system monitoring, making it possible to with technology infrastructure. By leveraging APM, organizations can quickly detect and mitigate any issues which speed up performance and innovation but also protect digital and cloud investments.

Optimize your application performance and achieve better business outcomes with Practical Logix’s expertise in APM tools and managed solutions. 

Contact us to learn more.

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