Think back when you first started being responsible for other people: be it at work when you started to manage people or at home with your children or other loved ones. At some point, you might have asked yourself, "what kind of manager or parent do I want to be?" There are different schools of thought and preferences in this regard. Will you be more of a micro-manager, take a more laissez-faire or a more democratic approach and the list goes on. And while there may be no right or wrong style, choosing one over the other will lead to specific outcomes.
In much the same way, there are different schools of thought when it comes to managing IT environments and the monitoring approach that will be taken to do so, including at the application level, endpoint level, network level, and so on.
Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) is one such school of thought for monitoring IT environments. As with managing people, choosing one style of monitoring over the other can lead to specific outcomes, particularly as it pertains to visibility into the performance and needs of the IT estate. That is why I argue that DEM can be successfully coupled with Application Performance Management (APM) for an accurate view into the environment that is not fragmented but augmented.
Before I dive into how DEM can help augment your APM strategy, let's first clear up the air by asking what do we mean by DEM and APM?
What is Digital Experience Monitoring?
DEM is an approach that focuses on creating a complete picture of the end-user's experience. It does so by ingesting datasets from multiple sources that are then used to analyze usage and performance of IT resources over all applications and services that an end-user and groups of end users interact with. Most DEM tools you can encounter today function with one or more of the following data ingestion mechanisms, which I will call "points of view." These include:
■ Endpoint or device agents
■ Synthetic transactions
■ Webpage snippets
■ Packet capture appliances
In that vein, understanding the "point of view" from which a DEM solution is gathering its data is critical because a DEM tool is only as good as the quality of its data. Having a combination of two or more of these mechanisms in place is the most ideal and that is where coupling DEM and APM comes into play.
But what do I mean by APM?
What is APM?
APM is one of those popular acronyms not questioned as often as it should be, so I'll turn the question to you. What do think of when you hear APM? Does APM to you mean "Application Performance Monitoring" or "Application Performance Management?"
While this may seem like trivial, there is a rather important difference between the two and it's important because the technology supporting each can lead to very different outcomes. Reaping the value of an APM tool will depend on the answer your APM vendor has to the question, "What do you mean by APM?"
Gartner defines Application Performance Monitoring as: "…one or more software and hardware components that facilitate monitoring to meet five main functional dimensions: end-user experience monitoring (EUM), runtime application architecture discovery modeling and display, user-defined transaction profiling, component deep-dive monitoring in application context, and analytics."
This means a true Application Performance Monitoring tool should provide you with visibility into a specific application, including a user's experience within it, its architecture, transactions taking place within it, and the usage and performance pertaining that application.
On the other hand, Application Performance Management is a broader term with a greater focus on resource utilization. An Application Performance Management tool analyzes within the context of the user's workstation as to what resources any and all applications are using and where opportunities for optimization exist across the application landscape.
In a way, you can think of Application Performance Management as a subset of DEM since DEM considers all the factors that may be impacting a user's experience in much the same way as Application Performance Management considers how any and all applications are impacting resources at the endpoint. From a DEM tool's point of view, what happens within an application is important but perhaps even more relevant is how any application is consuming, impacting and existing within the workspace.
For that reason, when I talk about APM being augmented by a DEM solution, I am referring to an Application Performance Monitoring tool.
How DEM Can Augment Application Performance Monitoring Value
Now that we have established definitions, how can DEM augment the value of an Application Performance Monitoring tool?
Let's take an example. Consider an environment with a high volume of end-user support tickets that involve "slow computers." The IT team suspects the "slowness" is related to their recent adoption of an ecommerce application used by a large group of users. The IT team uses their Application Performance Monitoring tool to identify if the response time is healthy at 200ms and the error rates are as low as 0.1%. The APM tool indicates everything is running smoothly within the ecommerce application.
A DEM tool can help identify if that application is really causing slowness. From this point of view, it can detect which and how many resources that ecommerce application is using within each endpoint — a point of view the APM tool simply does not have as it monitors directly from within each application. In this case, the DEM tool indicates that the ecommerce application has high graphical implications which, for certain users, results in sub-optimal performance and what shows up as users experiencing "slow" computer.
A DEM tool can provide visibility at a level that considers how all services and resources are impacting end-user experience. APM tools provide one very important point of view, while DEM can augment that visibility. So when it comes to monitoring your environment, how are you ensuring you have complimentary tools that together, provide clear visibility into all the services and resources impacting users?
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