The Case for Application Experience Monitoring
Why ‘"app assurance" is just as (or more) important than APM
September 25, 2017

Andrew Marshall
Cedexis

Share this

For today's software development teams, application performance monitoring (APM) is a fairly ubiquitous technology and an effective tool to monitor how applications are performing in production. The functionality of APM has evolved since it arrived on the scene in the late 90s, with several vendors building monitoring functionality that works well with distributed (i.e. not monolithic) applications. Despite these advances, APM remains at its core a mechanism for Dev teams to track how an application is working at the code and transaction level.

All the customer cares about is how they are enjoying an app.

While this is still useful, it doesn't address the ultimate goal of DevOps teams: to deliver the desired application experience to end users. Code working perfectly doesn't matter much if apps aren't reaching customers, or are negatively impacted by network latency or outages. All the customer cares about is how they are enjoying an app. To effectively guarantee application availability and usage satisfaction, DevOps teams need to leverage three important application assurance data sets into their delivery automation logic:

■ Application user experience: Real User Monitoring (RUM)

■ Real-time infrastructure health status: Synthetic testing

■ IT tool data feeds: Key IT health data like (traditional) APM, local load balancer (LOB) data and cloud metrics

Application User Experience: Real User Monitoring (RUM)

When is an app truly "green"? Answer: when it's working correctly for end users. Real user monitoring (RUM) allows Ops teams to fully understanding how internet performance impacts customer satisfaction and engagement. No matter where an app is hosted — in clouds, data centers, or CDNs — Ops teams need to make sure delivery of these apps looks good from the user perspective. RUM gives teams a real-time understanding of worldwide network health, which in turn delivers the performance data needed to automate app delivery, and ensure the best user experience your application can offer. An end user-centric approach to application assurance is critical to Application Experience Monitoring.

Real-Time Infrastructure Health Status: Synthetic Testing

Modern infrastructure is dynamic, distributed, and heterogeneous in nature. When your delivery architecture is comprised of one or more clouds, data centers, or CDNs, understanding the status of your infrastructure becomes a difficult proposition. It's critical that you test all of your endpoints: in your public clouds, private clouds, data centers, or CDNs. This provides a comprehensive and uniform view of the overall health of your applications delivery, no matter what the status of your various infrastructure components happens to be.

Synthetic testing acts like a virtual end point, testing the throughput of an application, video, or large file download. Being able to test your app from remote locations worldwide helps ensure your data has incredibly low latency, and therefore is actually usable for your app delivery strategy. Healthy infrastructure makes for deliverable apps.

IT Tool Data Feeds

As mentioned, a basic understanding of how an app is performing at the code and transaction level (i.e. traditional APM) is still important. This monitoring data is a key part of the third aspect of application assurance that DevOps teams need to leverage in addition to RUM and infrastructure health: IT Tool Data Feeds. There are various other monitoring and real-time metrics available to IT Ops to help them automate app delivery with the most robust set of data. (Traditional) APM is certainly one of these. Understanding the health of the app code is obviously still useful for making real-time delivery decisions in your software-defined app delivery platform.

On top of that there are many other data sources to leverage, of course, such as: local load balancer (i.e. NGINX, HAProxy) health metrics, cloud status metrics (i.e. AWS Cloudwatch), etc. These are just a few examples. Chances are your business collects data from LOB apps or other mission-critical services that are instrumental to your IT organization. These are tools you're paying (or paid) for, so you should use them for your application delivery automation if they're accessible. They're just as important as traditional APM.

DevOps Requires Insight + Action

DevOps teams are under constant pressure to support continuous deployment, agile methodology, and an acceptable uptime for applications. "Monitoring" isn't a solution, but actually just a way to collect data. Ops teams then use this data to make sure apps are delivered to customers with an optimal experience in mind. When both dev and ops teams have a single lens to view IT health data (from the three sources above) and a set of application delivery rules, they can react quickly to changes in these data feeds to assure the one thing that matters: the application experience by end users. Application Experience Monitoring as a practice helps make this possible.

Once DevOps teams understand how the Application Experience impacts global customers, the next important step is to do something with that information. That's where a software-defined application delivery platform comes in. Leveraging this powerful data set to automate application, video, and website delivery allows Ops teams to "self-heal" when network outages or latency issues happen. Insight plus action is the next step for APM.

Andrew Marshall is Director of Product Marketing at Cedexis
Share this

The Latest

May 23, 2024

Hybrid cloud architecture is breaking the backs of network engineering and operations teams. These teams are more successful when their companies go all-in with the cloud or stay out of it entirely. When companies maintain hybrid infrastructure, with applications and data residing across data centers and public cloud services, the network team struggles. This insight emerged in the newly published 2024 edition of Enterprise Management Associates' (EMA) Network Management Megatrends research ...

May 22, 2024

As IT practitioners, we often find ourselves fighting fires rather than proactively getting ahead ... Many spend countless hours managing several tools that give them different, fractured views of their own work — which isn't an effective use of time. Balancing daily technical tasks with long-term company goals requires a three-step approach. I'll share these steps and tips for others to do the same ...

May 21, 2024

IT service outages are more than a minor inconvenience. They can cost businesses millions while simultaneously leading to customer dissatisfaction and reputational damage. Moreover, the constant pressure of dealing with fire drills and escalations day and night can take a heavy toll on ITOps teams, leading to increased stress, human error, and burnout ...

May 20, 2024

Amid economic disruption, fintech competition, and other headwinds in recent years, banks have had to quickly adjust to the demands of the market. This adaptation is often reliant on having the right technology infrastructure in place ...

May 17, 2024

In MEAN TIME TO INSIGHT Episode 6, Shamus McGillicuddy, VP of Research, Network Infrastructure and Operations, at EMA discusses network automation ...

May 16, 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of software development and infrastructure management, observability stands as a crucial pillar. Among its fundamental components lies log collection ... However, traditional methods of log collection have faced challenges, especially in high-volume and dynamic environments. Enter eBPF, a groundbreaking technology ...

May 15, 2024

Businesses are dazzled by the promise of generative AI, as it touts the capability to increase productivity and efficiency, cut costs, and provide competitive advantages. With more and more generative AI options available today, businesses are now investigating how to convert the AI promise into profit. One way businesses are looking to do this is by using AI to improve personalized customer engagement ...

May 14, 2024

In the fast-evolving realm of cloud computing, where innovation collides with fiscal responsibility, the Flexera 2024 State of the Cloud Report illuminates the challenges and triumphs shaping the digital landscape ... At the forefront of this year's findings is the resounding chorus of organizations grappling with cloud costs ...

May 13, 2024

Government agencies are transforming to improve the digital experience for employees and citizens, allowing them to achieve key goals, including unleashing staff productivity, recruiting and retaining talent in the public sector, and delivering on the mission, according to the Global Digital Employee Experience (DEX) Survey from Riverbed ...

May 09, 2024

App sprawl has been a concern for technologists for some time, but it has never presented such a challenge as now. As organizations move to implement generative AI into their applications, it's only going to become more complex ... Observability is a necessary component for understanding the vast amounts of complex data within AI-infused applications, and it must be the centerpiece of an app- and data-centric strategy to truly manage app sprawl ...