APM for Mobile Applications

What’s special about APM for mobile applications? Also known as application performance management.

Consider first what’s distinctive about support of mobile applications: the end-user population might be quite different from your organization’s usual desktop-oriented userbase. The mobile population puts a premium on simplicity of operation, integration–many have only weak comprehension of how “multitasking” applies in a digital device–and network transparency. Mark Shander particularly emphasizes the latter: “an important performance goal is to keep the user’s perception of the app the same, if possible, whether the user is online or off.

In an introductory article, Shander sounds like a familiar APM sermon: “… app development isn’t just about the app itself. It’s about the logic within the app, the user interface, synchronization, and the back-end communications architecture.” The primary message of this Real User Monitoring blog, of course, is that the right perspective to begin examination of performance is with the whole end-to-end application behavior, encompassing everything that goes into end-user experience (EUE).

CDN key

For Shander, then, one of the first conclusions about mobile applications, especially those with back-ends in the cloud, is that they deserve “a content delivery network (CDN) to speed access to your cloud-based instance and back-end architecture, both for failover continuity and to enhance the user experience.”

The barriers-to-entry with CDNs are low: the industry has plenty of experience with them, many cloud or datacenter hosts integrate preferred CDNs conveniently, and low-key but useful experimentation with CDNs demands a modest out-of-pocket cost. CDNs can give immediate and dramatic protection against denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, and are great for audio streaming and other specialized functions that might apply in your growing application portfolio. Even better, modern APM tools and CDNs have become savvy about each other. A decade ago, getting the two to co-operate was more exhausting than rewarding. Tooling has improved so much since then that it has started to be fun to prioritize traffic, specify geographic configurations, test failovers, and so on.

As recently as this summer, analyst Jim Rapoza wrote that “… in the world of application performance management, mobile apps have been second class citizens.” This situation is improving rapidly this year, though, and CDN sophistication is an important aspect of the improvement. Do you know how to use your APM solution to make the most of CDN?

We’ll continue next week with other specific roles APM plays in making for a successful mobile strategy.