Varieties of Application Performance Management

Michael Azoff is right: it’s important to consider the different target audiences for application performance management (APM), and what products serve each one best.

In a recent sketch, he touches on:

  • pre-deployment development-oriented APM;
  • post-deployment operations-oriented APM;
  • APM for quality assurance (QA) that covers “non-functional requirements”;
  • end-to-end transaction-oriented production-focused APM;
  • predictive APM (which shades into Big Data analytics);
  • end-user experience-monitoring APM with sensitivity to display considerations for handhelds;
  • APM of (public) cloud-hosted operations;
  • APM of cloud
    service providers;
  • APM itself provided through software-as-a-service (SaaS);
  • application performance testing; and
  • application security performance.

Notice these categories aren’t mutually exclusive: a particular offering might simultaneously target security performance within Operations on a public cloud.

Don’t let the complexity of this outline discourage you. The complexity is necessary, in that it properly reflects APM reality. In Azoff’s words, “… despite the waves of industry rationalizations …, the field is diverging once agains …” In fact, Azoff’s first blog for APMdigest when he joined in March 2012 struggled with the same tangled narrative: “Some four years ago the market appeared to be consolidating but the wide spread adoption of virtualization and the recognition of the importance of end user experience monitoring (EUEM) created new opportunities.”

This means that you’ll have to be actively engaged with APM for some time to come. APM is not a discrete, localized purchase in the way, say, DNS or firewalling can be; to sign with a vendor and assume it will take care of all your APM needs puts you at risk of missing a lot of the opportunity APM offers. At the least, you must stay in touch with your trusted vendor(s) to ensure that your strategic priorities are properly met. Track the terms of that fulfillment as:

  • your organization’s priorities evolve;
  • your vendors update; and
  • new developments and practices in the wider APM marketplace.

Perhaps in a few years, APM will “shake out” so that the choices become simpler. For now, it’s essential to invest both in crafting the exact requirements your Operations team has for APM, and in staying abreast of such new offerings as private cloud performance monitoring.