What is APM?

Application performance monitoring (APM tool) is a diagnostic tool that helps you run your applications faster, smoother, and error-free. Here's a complete overview of APM to help you get started.

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Why businesses use APM tools?

Today, digital experience means everything. Businesses must deliver uninterrupted services to their end users. But since modern applications are complex, and complex applications tend to fail in complex ways, it's essential to identify and resolve issues as soon as possible.  

This is where an APM tool is handy. With an application monitoring tool in place, you can drill down to the exact line of code or the component that’s causing problems and identify the root cause of issues in minimal time.   

Key Features of APM Tool

An APM tool should be able to map the various aspects of your application's complexities to give you a better understanding of how the application works.  When selecting an APM tool for your monitoring purposes, look for these basic features:

Topology Maps

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Applications generally communicate with one or more external resources to complete various actions, be it caching, updating the database, or waiting for an external provider like a payment gateway. Visualizing these dependencies helps DevOps and IT admins quickly identify bottlenecks and remediate issues.

Key Transactions

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Monitor the performance of business-critical transactions at a glance by labeling them as key transactions. Doing so enables you to save time searching for transactions and helps you debug and analyze them with ease.

Distributed Tracing

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With distributed tracing, you can track transaction traces made from one application to another. This enables you to monitor calls made between applications and isolate problems. 

Error Analytics

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Knowing when and how frequently errors happen in an application enables organizations to develop crucial strategies to build more robust products and make the user experience more seamless.

Custom Metrics

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Enabling developers to customize application-specific metrics ensures they can evaluate performance bottlenecks and tweak the existing codebase. 

Milestone Markers

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Milestone markers help you record significant events in your application’s life cycle, like build deployments, product updates, feature enhancements, and infrastructure upgrades.

Rule-based Alerting

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With a continuous monitoring solution offloading most of the operations-related worries, alerting is just the icing on the cake. DevOps teams can set up rules to receive alerts during an irregularity, freeing up their time to manage other day-to-day operations since they won’t have to constantly check on the metrics.

AI for Anomaly Detection

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The idea behind anomaly detection is to uncover any abnormal spikes in an application's critical performance attributes. An anomaly is triggered when a KPI falls below or exceeds the previously benchmarked values. This helps you handle unforeseen issues that could have a big impact later.

What are the benefits of APM software?

Having an APM tool in place helps you to proactively idenitfy and eliminate issues in real-time, thereby, aiding you to deliver a seamless end-user experience.

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What to expect from an APM tool?

According to Gartner, "APM is a suite of monitoring software comprising digital experience monitoring, application discovery, tracing, and diagnostics and purpose built AI for IT operations."

Originally used to merely monitor performance metrics, APM tools have come a long way in accordance with the trends in application development. In a nutshell, present-day APM tools should be able to integrate well with other aspects of monitoring, have robust tracing mechanisms, and aid in proactive monitoring with the help of anomaly detection and forecasting. 

Who uses APM monitoring tools?


An APM tool can alert DevOps teams immediately when an application behaves erratically. These continuous monitoring solutions provide key insights on errors, including stacktraces, and enable DevOps to take further actions during an emergency, like applying a quick patch, running an automation script, or reporting details to the concerned teams.

IT Admins

APM tools provide a bird's-eye view of application topology, making it easier to identify unresponsive nodes instantly. Alerting systems and anomaly detection provide the edge IT admins need to respond to critical events faster.


APM tools aggregate performance metrics over a long period of time, and provide a quick snapshot of performance-intensive operations. This enables operations teams to identify areas of improvement based on historic trends in application behavior.

Quality Assurance

Ensuring that a new update enhances response time, or deciding to revert to an earlier build, requires a comparison of key metrics before and after deployment. APM tools with options to mark significant infrastructure updates as milestones and compare reports make this a breeze.


APM eliminates the need for developers to manually gather key environmental details required to simulate and fix an issue. These tools capture the entire application context in depth, including stacktraces, session details, calls to databases, and other dependent components. APM tools even provide APIs for developers to define their own application-specific metrics.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for APM:

Measuring application performance goes beyond application availability and responsiveness. It’s crucial to establish a baseline for key parameters, as this helps you detect application degradation or anomalies. To begin, measure your application performance with these KPIs: 

Application Response Time and Throughput
  • Are there any seasonal patterns in response time or throughput?
  • Did the latest update affect your application performance?
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  • Does your average response time vary in relation to throughput?
  • Have you defined how fast your application should run?
  • How do response time and throughput affect your user experience?
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  • How often does your application crash?
  • Does it happen sporadically or does it occur frequently?
  • Can you trace the exact root cause via logs?
Exception count and Error rate
  • Do you have a good understanding of how your application connects and communicates with all other internal and third-party services?
  • How do external components affect your application performance?
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  • Can your servers handle the increasing traffic, or do you need to scale them?
  • Are your application services up and available 24x7?
  • If not, have you identified the cause of application downtime?
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What can an APM solution do for you?


Reduction in response time.


Reduced DB calls.


Reduced calls to external components.


Optimization in SQL queries.


Reduced exceptions.

Best Practices:

The following are a few pointers that needs to be considered before buying an APM tool:

  • Check if the APM vendor supports your application language and cloud platform
  • Check if they are agent-based, agentless or on-premise
  • Evaluate and see if the product can be customized to your needs
  • Educate your staff

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