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Why an application performance monitoring tool is essential

An application performance monitoring tool harvests data and differs from application management, offering valuable services in an age of virtualization.

Application performance monitoring is a method used to harvest performance metrics via a distributed software system. At a minimum, performance software is deployed on the application server, as well as the client machine. An advanced application performance monitoring tool also deploys monitoring software throughout the network to gain even more data points.

The idea of performance monitoring is to collect specific application metrics along the network path between the server and client devices. The performance data is highly granular and can be used to identify specific parts of a client-server transaction that may be causing performance problems.

As networks, servers and operating systems become increasingly virtualized, a robust application performance monitoring tool becomes a necessity. Without it, developers are left in the dark to determine if code within their application is the problem -- or if there's an issue with the underlying virtualized environment.

There are simply too many variables to make even an educated guess as to what the root cause of the performance problem might be. Therefore, the best way to truly figure out what's happening from a performance standpoint is to monitor transactions from a client-side point of view.

For most IT departments, application performance monitoring tools are sufficient for identifying the majority of application-related issues in a production network. But for those that require the need to identify performance detail at a deeper level, that's where application performance management tools come into play.

For most IT departments, application performance monitoring tools are sufficient for identifying the majority of application-related issues in a production network.

Performance management tools function similarly to performance monitoring tools by baselining and analyzing collected data to form a correlated opinion on where problems are likely to be residing. But instead of simply pointing to high-level memory allocation problems or CPU spikes caused by the application, performance management tools drill down to the code level to identify the exact portion of the application code that is the likely culprit.

Because of this, application performance management tools are better suited for application developers, as opposed to application and server administrators.

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This was last published in January 2017

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What is your approach to selecting application performance monitoring tools?
Most applications must access data, the data stored in the database.  Many performance issues involve data access issues.  For the same reason that the author did not mention data access, application developers, and especially application designers, fail to plan for data access.  I've seen many applications that treat relational databases as if the data were on sequential tape drives.  Relational databases are designed for set processing and parallel processing in the DBMS.   Sequential processing design is one of the major issues of application performance.  A good tool identifies the data access.   A great tool identifies the DESIGN issues.  Both data design and application design are far bigger problem than coding bugs.  The coder is limited in what can be done with a bad design.

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