The Confusing Flavors of APM
June 28, 2013

Jim Swepson

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Attending Interop in Vegas last month, I was surprised to note the number of vendors exhibiting their wares under the banner of APM – Application Performance Management. With all the different offerings, it was rather confusing.

It got me thinking about a trip I’d taken the night before to an ice-cream parlour. I love ice-cream, and at the parlour there were plenty of flavors on offer. With APM, as with ice-cream, meeting customer demand is key — one flavor doesn’t suit everyone.

I’ve been aware of APM for a good number of years but it’s only recently that companies are taking performance of applications (as opposed to availability) seriously. It can be a bit confusing for anyone venturing into this area, but with more cloud and virtual solutions being taken up, the importance of application performance over networks becomes paramount as networks, of all sorts, form a critical part of the delivery.

So what are the flavors of APM? According to Bojan Simic, an analyst with TRAC Research, "APM consists of multiple underlying technologies and nine sub-markets that cover buyers’ requirements” and he goes on to say that ”the APM market is not well defined and end-user organizations often find it challenging to understand what APM technologies are relevant for their specific needs."

No wonder it’s confusing to the customer who has a need - it sounds like the market itself is offering many solutions around APM, but, somehow you have to work out for yourself, which one will best meet your needs. There doesn’t seem to be no-one flavor that suits all…

APM is a term that has been invented relatively recently. Clearly, the name should say it all - “Application Performance Management”, but there are two general approaches: Those tools that deal with Application Performance e.g. "response time" and "throughput", and those that deal with "infrastructural issues" which lead to poor application performance e.g. running out of network bandwidth.

The latter have pre-existed the name APM and in a sense are not truly APM tools at all, but they are now often bundled into this terminology as infrastructure performance issues inevitably lead to Application Performance Issues.

But there are other important aspects of APM, e.g. Enterprise Management Associates recently completed their EMA Radar for Application-Aware Network Performance Management 2013. In the report, EMA VP of Research, Jim Frey, talks about how there is now "a focus on recognizing and eliminating performance degradations".

From my perspective this fits in nicely with my view of APM, it may have a different title, but fundamentally it’s about keeping your application performing well, but with greater understanding of the issues.

In the end though, it’s going to be up to you, the client, to decide what flavor of APM suits your environment (server focused, client focused, network focused, investigative etc.), and if Interop 2013 is anything to go by, there is a plethora of options to choose from.

If you can’t get out of the office, then check out blog sites such as APMdigest and analyst information such as Ovum Group’s Solution Guide: Application Performance Management — as with TRAC and EMA, there is a good overview of not only the differing vendor offerings, but also what now constitutes APM.

So like ice cream there may be many flavors, just make sure you know which flavors suits your business needs and when you’ve chosen your flavor you can choose from the brands that deliver it.

Jim Swepson is Pre-sales Technologist at Itrinegy.

Related Links:

TRAC Research APM Spectrum

EMA Radar for Application-Aware Network Performance Management 2013

Ovum Solution Guide for APM

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