Application performance-management tools can be categorized according to their target audiences. Development-oriented APM serves developers who need to drill down to the code level, and it provides the kind of information that programmers need to solve code-related problems. An operations-oriented APM tool will provide information about the production environment, and it provides a consolidated view of information meaningful to IT professionals. QA will want details related to performance criteria that can be matched to the application’s non-functional requirements.
While movements such as agile and DevOps attempt to break the walls between traditional silos, such as development, QA, operations, network engineering, senior management and others, there remains the need to address the particular information requirements of these communities. Therefore, APM for pre-deployment development and post-deployment troubleshooting provides developers with source-code-level detail and statistics. Furthermore, there is a new generation of APM tools that monitor the end-to-end production environment, tracking distinct business transactions that cross multiple services and devices, and providing business transaction management.
APM analytics is improving with new tools that can correlate thousands of metrics and identify patterns that provide early-warning signs of impending trouble. The appearance of solutions that go beyond real-time monitoring and offer predictive analytics is another new market trend. Providing real-time predictive analytics against the huge amount of metric data generated by the APM sensors verges on the scale of Big Data analytics. This is a new phase in the APM market, and users should ascertain whether their tools are able to process all the data created or whether they are resorting to sampling.
End-user experience monitoring is an APM category that focuses on how the user is experiencing performance. For example, green lights might be showing in production, but the client-side might be dead. This feature now needs to encompass applications running on smart mobile devices. Tablets and smart devices are also increasingly being used by executives and administrators, so APM health dashboard reporting to these devices is also a new must-have.
While some APM vendors aim for solutions that cover all monitoring and performance categories for the complete range of users, there are smaller players that are purely focused on operations and production. Ovum finds that the APM field is attracting new entrants with innovative solutions, so despite the waves of industry rationalizations that occurred some years ago toward all-encompassing solutions, the field is diverging once again as more distinctly defined users are identified, such as DevOps users and their continuous deployment activities.
APM in relation to cloud computing is a highly active area of solution enhancement by nearly all the APM vendors recently reviewed by Ovum. While some vendors can offer APM as SaaS, others are waiting to see how this market grows or are busy building such features. Taking APM into the cloud for private clouds is less of an issue than doing so on public clouds where there are limits on what can be deployed. Using agents that accompany applications to public clouds is a common approach. APM for cloud service providers is another user category, and an essential one as these providers look to differentiate themselves.
APM solutions therefore need to keep pace not only with the changing nature of the data center, the transition to cloud services, the use of server virtualization, messaging, virtual desktops, and so forth, but also the categories of users who will use the performance information.
Finally, there are two areas closely related to APM that Ovum believes will see increasing activity within the APM market: application performance testing and application security performance. The former is of interest to QA and testing professionals, and APM tools that target this audience will include synthetic and real-user load-testing. The second area has become an application-level concern as enterprise users increasingly work on devices that sit outside the firewall, such as browsers and mobile devices. This is an opportunity for the APM market to address.
Michael Azoff is Principal Analyst at Ovum, where he has been working as an IT industry analyst since 2003, researching software development and life-cycle management.