At the time when we were looking for a monitoring solution (2006-2007) APM as we know it today had yet to be defined. There was no Gartner MQ, real-user-monitoring (RUM) was too high level, “agent monitoring” brought concerns of overhead and complexity, instrumenting the application meant to ARM it (i.e. Application Response Measurement), and transaction tagging was a pipe dream.
This created a fierce debate on the risks and rewards of agent vs. agentless monitoring, read APM Caught in the Crosshairs. So, when we were developing our monitoring approach, our first priority was to do no harm, then collect performance metrics.
We first implemented agentless (RUM) technology to gain insight into the application behavior and build a baseline that captured a normal workload. Secondly we focused on synthetic transactions to provide visibility during off peak hours when transaction volumes were low.
Months later, after we had a basic end-user-experience (EUE) solidified and earned the trust of the stakeholders, we began working on deploying agent-based monitoring in production to get a runtime view of the J2EE stack tying it back to the business transactions.
Today’s APM has come a long way since then and has advanced to levels that some may refer to as “magic.” But with these new found powers, APM now comes with a paparazzi of peddlers trying to sell you something, and hucksters who are preaching how to reach the promised land of performance through marketing glossies.
Since there are so many facets to consider when selecting a modern-day APM solution, be wary of the “one size fits all” approach no matter how compelling the story. Remember, you are striving for a robust, real-time application monitoring solution which will most likely utilize a combination of active and passive monitoring techniques.
It would be wise to start small, curate a POC, and get comfortable with the solution nuances, scrutinizing the integration touch points that will coalesce with your current operational processes.
APM has created an opportunity for itself to be absorbed into the mainstream of IT based on the value it provides. It's important to consider however, that with the abundance of monitoring tools available in the market, you don't buy APM, you develop it as a strategy, and then acquire the tools you need to realize the vision.
You can contact Larry on LinkedIn.
For more information on the basic Principles of APM and how it can be applied to any monitoring initiative or strategic discussion about application performance refer to the webcast on BrightTALK.com: Solving the Performance Puzzle: A Simple APM Methodology
The Butterfly Effect Within IT
APM: Running With a Renegade - DevOps
Synthetic Monitoring: Is It Really Worth It?