Application Stability Management vs. Application Performance Management - Who Needs Them and Why
November 09, 2020

Leon Adato
SolarWinds

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For IT teams, catching errors in applications before they become detrimental to a project is critical. Not only can it ensure that teams are not spending time going back and course correcting errors like transaction bottlenecks or application failures, but it can also save significant amounts of money if the problem becomes too far gone for it to be resolved quickly and efficiently. And wouldn't it be nice if there was someone standing over your shoulder, letting you know exactly when, where, and what the issue is so you can correct it immediately? Luckily, there are both application performance management (APM) and application stability management (ASM) solutions available that can do this for you, flagging errors in both the deployment and development stages of applications, before they can create larger issues down the line.

How Does It Work?

Tech teams often go back and forth on which solution makes the most sense for them to deploy, but the real answer is that because they monitor different aspects of an application, tech teams really stand to benefit from having both. It isn't a question of whether a team wants to invest in APM over ASM or vice versa — it's both, not an either or.

Applications are the oil that keeps the IT machine moving, so it's imperative that they are working their best at all times. And for the most part, organizations use APM to alert users about how their applications are performing in real time, as they are being used. One of the benefits of APM is it can be used to send alerts and flag errors to IT teams to let them know when an application may fail, allowing tech pros to fix applications before they can disrupt business. But ASM has a different functionality altogether and can assist developers when they are building applications to avoid errors in the development phase.

The development cycle can be unpredictable and full of surprises. With changes coming at any possible moment, developers rely on ASM to help them throughout the coding process and ensure there are no gaps in the code they are designing. With ASM, engineers aren't just coding the best they can and hoping for the best, but designing an application that has an almost flawless backbone so that APM solutions do not have to catch all of the problems. ASM can flag and trap new errors as they appear and allows developers to graph out the quality and severity of errors as they're produced. But even when an application is built with ASM, businesses need APM to ensure it's always performing optimally.

Unlike ASM that only catches errors in the development phase, APM can monitor and flag problems after an application has been executed and is in use. But it's worth noting that APM is never going to catch a problem that no one uses, making ASM all the more critical. Because ASM monitors code development, it can find problems that a user may never stumble across.

Making the Most of What You Have

The challenge with deciding when to use APM or ASM is that each option is catered for different teams. On the development side, APM doesn't provide the information they need to know about their code. Whereas for DevOps teams, monitoring engineers and more an APM solution provides the mature and complete overview to allow to know exactly what they are supposed to be getting.

For example, think about how most organizations have engineers on call. Some business leaders find this unnecessary, believing that if there were a problem you could simply kill the instance and reload a better version of the application. But from an engineer's perspective who primarily deals with containerized applications, they kill containers, and if there's a problem in their code, they automatically pull the previous known good version.

But when it comes to most tech pros, there's no real way to kill a router and then revert it from code if the router crashed, something that most engineers don't consider. Even though ASM and APM are definitely for coders and programmers, it's important to see how they are interconnected into the whole IT infrastructure and can impact the performance of what is happening beyond the applications.

But perhaps the most important to remember is that all of these pieces matter holistically and should be interconnected with each other. If you have an APM or ASM tool that stands alone and can't incorporate the different metrics and data, then the tools will only ever be used as a point solution. For the most impactful information, they should operate together.

Leon Adato is a Head Geek at SolarWinds
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