What Is Application Performance Monitoring (APM)?

Digital interactions have become ubiquitous in both personal and professional spheres—from digital entertainment streaming to online shopping to remote work, businesses and individuals rely heavily on digital platforms to communicate, transact, and access services. As a result, seamless digital experiences have become a key for customer satisfaction and retention. Application performance monitoring (APM) plays a crucial role in helping software applications meet the demands of an increasingly digital world.

APM is a comprehensive approach to monitoring, managing, and optimizing the performance and availability of software applications. Continuous tracking and analysis of an application’s performance enables the identification and resolution of issues that could impact functionality, responsiveness, or availability.

APM ensures that applications meet performance expectations and deliver optimal user experiences by using a combination of tools, processes, and methodologies. Application performance monitoring tools record and measure the internal workings of an application’s components. Using APM techniques, service providers can enhance their application’s reliability and deliver seamless experiences to their audience.

Importance of Application Performance Monitoring

The user experience is critical for any business to achieve lasting success. Any disruptions to a smooth user experience, from slow loading times to sudden crashes, can lead to frustrated users and put a business at risk of losing their audience. APM helps businesses achieve reliability and scalability by tracking critical performance metrics in real time. By proactively monitoring system health, APM helps businesses optimize performance to consistently provide users with the quality of experience they’ve come to expect.

1. Optimal User Experience

Users rely on applications for many of their daily activities, from making purchases to arranging rides to watching movies. Consistently good experiences keep users coming back, while inconvenience and inconsistency can drive them away. APM enables organizations to monitor app loading times, responsiveness, buffering rates, and other critical performance metrics in real time. By promptly identifying and resolving performance issues, APM helps companies ensure uninterrupted, seamless experiences that enhance user satisfaction and engagement.

2. Reliability and Availability

Downtime or service disruptions can erode user trust and damage brand reputation. APM plays a crucial role in minimizing these by monitoring the health and availability of an application’s infrastructure. By reducing mean time to resolution (MTTR) through proactive risk mitigation based on performance data and analytics, APM helps ensure that a service remains reliable and accessible, even during peak demand periods or unexpected traffic spikes.

3. Scalability and Performance Optimization

As user demand for applications continues to grow, service providers must be able to scale their infrastructure to accommodate increased traffic. APM contributes to improved platform performance and scalability by identifying and addressing performance bottlenecks. Fine-tuning content delivery mechanisms can increase app uptime and reduce issues such as failed logins. Making sure that the infrastructure can handle fluctuating demand without sacrificing performance is one of the benefits of APM monitoring. It helps providers deliver consistent, high-quality experiences to users, fostering loyalty and trust.

4. Business Continuity and Revenue Generation

Downtime and poor application performance can have severe consequences for businesses, resulting in lost audience and lost revenue. APM safeguards against these through providing early detection of performance issues. When organizations can prioritize where they spend their attention and take proactive measures to prevent downtime, they maintain business continuity. By ensuring the reliability and availability of applications, APM protects revenue streams—along with brand reputation—and preserves the bottom line.

5. Operational Efficiency and Cost Savings

Performance bottlenecks and inefficiencies within applications can lead to wasted resources and increased infrastructure costs. APM solutions allow organizations to identify and address these bottlenecks, optimizing their resources and streamlining their operations. For example, when an application encounters increased latency, operations teams can leverage trace and code profiling data to quickly identify and address it. Error tracking enables them to learn about the frequency and impact of errors, identifying related issues and making resolution more efficient. By reducing the time and effort required to troubleshoot performance issues, APM lets organizations focus on strategic initiatives and innovation rather than firefighting.

Disruptions can lead users to abandon an app, seek alternatives, or leave negative feedback, damaging the app’s reputation and deterring potential customers. User satisfaction correlates with business performance: Apps that consistently deliver optimal user experiences are more likely to attract and retain customers. In a crowded market, providing an exceptional user experience is key.

Application Performance Monitoring Capabilities

An effective APM strategy involves a variety of tools that perform many different functions. With a focus on proactively detecting and resolving issues before they disrupt users, APM makes user satisfaction a priority.

  • Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM): DEM is a tool for monitoring the availability and performance of digital assets as users interact with applications, websites, or other digital services. DEM monitors and optimizes page load times, responsiveness, functionality, usability (in terms of meeting both user expectations and business objectives), and other key aspects of the digital experience. By incorporating real user monitoring (RUM) and synthetic transaction monitoring (STM), DEM enables organizations to learn about user experience and behavior. RUM captures performance metrics in real time, offering details about how users experience digital assets with their browsers or devices. It measures parameters such as page load times, transaction completion rates, and other user engagement metrics. STM simulates user interactions with digital assets using automated scripts or bots, allowing organizations to proactively monitor and test application functionality, availability, and performance. STM can simulate user journeys, transactions, and workflows across various devices and for a variety of network conditions.
  • Application Discovery: Application discovery autonomously identifies an application’s structure, creating service maps and offering transaction tracing for user requests as they move through an application. It dives into the code level and maps the components, services, and dependencies of an application’s ecosystem. This provides organizations with invaluable insights into the architecture and composition of their application, including backend services, databases, APIs, and third-party integrations.
  • End-to-End Distributed Tracing: This capability empowers operations teams to trace the flow of requests and transactions across multiple components and services within a distributed application (that is, from frontend devices to backend services). It captures the start time, end time, duration, and sequence of operations performed for each transaction. By capturing this metadata, teams can monitor and analyze the dependencies of each request individually, and visualize the end-to-end journey of transactions. End-to-end distributed tracing helps surface errors or issues, facilitating prompt resolution and optimal performance.
  • Code Profiling: Code profiling is a technique that analyzes the performance characteristics of software applications at a granular level. By capturing detailed metrics about the execution of individual code segments or functions within an application, it aims to identify specific code segments or functions that consume the most CPU time, memory, or other system resources during application execution. This allows operations teams to identify inefficiencies and optimize critical sections for improved performance.

Core Features of Application Performance Monitoring

The core features of APM matter because they provide critical insights into the health and performance of digital applications, directly impacting user experiences and business outcomes. This specialized approach enables organizations to quickly identify and address performance issues before they escalate, ensuring uninterrupted service delivery. Conviva takes this concept a step further than other APM tools: Most APM tools are only monitoring a portion of application experience. They measure system-level performance, but aren’t capable of measuring true user experience. Because performance is so closely linked with user experience, Conviva monitors user experience as well.

1. Real Time Monitoring

APM relies on real-time monitoring of key performance indicators (KPIs) such as response times, throughput, error rates, and resource utilization. By providing immediate visibility into the health and performance of applications, real-time monitoring enables the prompt identification and resolution of issues, ensuring optimal user experiences.

2. Application Performance Analytics

APM utilizes analytics to gain deeper insights into application performance trends, patterns, and anomalies. By analyzing performance data, organizations can identify recurring issues, forecast future performance trends, and make informed decisions about optimization strategies.

3. Root Cause Analysis

A key capability of APM is root cause analysis, which involves identifying the underlying causes of performance issues or failures. By correlating data from multiple sources and pinpointing the root causes of performance degradation, organizations can take targeted corrective actions, leading to faster and more reliable incident resolution. Root cause analysis is essential for maintaining the health and stability of applications, ensuring uninterrupted service delivery, and safeguarding the overall user experience.

Key Metrics Application Performance Monitoring Tracks

These performance objectives and benchmarks help organizations measure and evaluate the effectiveness of their APM efforts, identify areas for improvement, and ensure that applications meet user expectations for performance, reliability, and availability.

1. Response Time

Measures the time it takes for an application to respond to a user request, such as the time to log in or time to purchase, including the time it takes to process the request and generate a response. By assessing application responsiveness and identifying performance bottlenecks, response time helps ensure optimal user experiences.

2. Request Rate

Refers to how quickly an application processes and handles user requests or transactions. It can determine when there are unexpected increases in requests, decreases in requests, or a large number of requests from a single user. By monitoring request rates under different load conditions, organizations can gauge application capacity and scalability, ensuring seamless performance even during peak usage periods.

3. Error Rate

Quantifies the frequency and severity of errors encountered by users during interactions with an application, such as a failed login, the purchase page not loading, or a video not loading. This also includes errors such as HTTP status codes (4xx client errors, 5xx server errors, etc.), crashes, and validation failures. By tracking error rates and types, organizations can identify and address bugs and usability issues, improving user experience and system stability.

4. Resource Usage

Tracks the usage of system resources such as CPU, memory, disk I/O, and network bandwidth by the application. By identifying resource inefficiencies, resource usage helps optimize infrastructure provisioning, scaling, and allocation, ensuring optimal performance and cost-effectiveness.

5. Latency

Measures the delay or round-trip time between a user request and the corresponding response from the application. By assessing latency components such as network latency, processing latency, and queuing delays, organizations can optimize application performance and enhance user experiences.

6. Availability

Tracks the uptime and downtime of the application, indicating the percentage of time the application is accessible and operational. This includes metrics such as uptime percentage, downtime incidents, and MTTR. By ensuring continuous service delivery and proactively detecting and addressing downtime events, availability metrics help minimize user impact and maintain business continuity.

Downtime frustrates customers and undermines their trust in the organization’s reliability. Any disruption in availability or performance can lead to dissatisfaction, complaints, and ultimately, loss of customers to competitors.


Implementation Strategies for Application Performance Monitoring

A company interested in using APM typically begins by defining its performance objectives, user expectations, and business goals. This helps to identify the relevant KPIs to track, along with the tools and technologies best suited to their needs. Implementing an effective APM strategy means taking a systematic approach to monitoring, analyzing, and optimizing the performance of software applications.

1. Define Performance Objectives

Organizations should start by defining clear performance objectives aligned with business goals and user expectations. Identifying KPIs relevant to their application and establishing baseline performance benchmarks will help them measure progress and evaluate the effectiveness of APM efforts.

2. Select APM Tools

The next step is for an organization to choose APM tools and technologies that best suit their needs and requirements. Factors to consider include scalability, integration capabilities, ease of use, and support for the technologies used in the application’s stack. Features or capabilities to look for include real-time monitoring, alerting, diagnostics, and reporting capabilities to ensure comprehensive coverage of APM needs.

Conviva combines the features businesses need in order to know what their users are experiencing with all of the capabilities a business needs to tailor a tool to suit their needs and goals. Any digital business will have some key moments or touchpoints that are make-or-break, such as a streaming service user deciding to hit “subscribe.” Knowing what’s happening in that moment gives businesses the real insights they need to succeed.

Conviva provides a real-time look into a complete user flow, so those critical user flows—those with the most impact on revenue, retention, and engagement—are no longer a black box. Conviva connects user engagement, user experience, and system performance to offer a truly comprehensive view of everything impacting application performance. 

3. Instrumentation and Monitoring

Equipping applications with monitoring agents enables the capture of performance metrics and tracing of transactions across the application, collecting data from frontend user interfaces, backend servers, databases, and network infrastructure. Configuring monitoring dashboards allows for the visualization of performance metrics, providing real-time insights into the application’s health and performance.

Conviva gives metrics context that makes them much more useful than they are in isolation. They include monitoring in real-time at full census scale, rather than doing simpler, more common, and less precise sampling. This allows businesses to avoid having the blind spots that sampling can create. Conviva also uses experience metrics such as time to purchase, rather than just error counts, in order to understand what is happening at the user level.

4. Alerting and Notifications

Implementing robust alerting mechanisms is crucial for ensuring timely responses to performance issues. Conviva has harnessed emerging technologies to design the best system for keeping teams informed, rather than overwhelmed or in the dark. By setting up alerts based on predefined thresholds or baseline values, teams can be notified immediately when performance metrics deviate from expected norms. In addition, defining alert escalation policies helps prioritize critical incidents—and helps teams prevent alert fatigue. If an alert system makes everything seem critical, teams can become numb to it and miss what really matters.

Conviva uses both artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide proactive monitoring and incident management. And while traditional APM tools will alert companies when there is an increase in latency, Conviva’s alerts cover both baseline performance issues and user experience issues—that means Conviva will also alert companies when it starts taking users longer to progress through login flows, for example. Conviva’s AI alerts automatically let teams know when issues and anomalies arise that are truly relevant for business impact.

5. Diagnostics and Root Cause Analysis

To effectively troubleshoot performance issues, organizations need to implement diagnostic tools and techniques that enable thorough root cause analysis. Ops teams can use transaction tracing and code profiling to trace the execution path of transactions and pinpoint performance bottlenecks. Collecting and analyzing performance data from various sources gives organizations a holistic view of application performance, facilitating more accurate diagnosis and resolution of issues.

6. Optimization and Continuous Improvement

Analyzing performance data is just the first step—organizations must also take proactive measures to continuously optimize and improve application performance. This involves identifying areas for optimization based on performance insights and implementing strategies such as code refactoring, infrastructure upgrades, or configuration tuning to address performance bottlenecks. By monitoring the impact of optimization efforts and iterating on APM strategies, organizations can ensure ongoing improvement in application performance and deliver better and better user experiences over time.

A well-defined implementation strategy is essential for organizations seeking to optimize application performance.


Optimize Application Performance Monitoring with Conviva’s Operational Data Platform

Conviva’s one-of-a-kind Operational Data Platform (ODP) connects the measurement of backend infrastructure performance to what’s happening in real-time with user experience. It offers a cohesive view into applications, networks, platforms, devices, access points, and more. The insights gained from having comprehensive knowledge of what’s happening makes it possible to identify problems immediately, solve them before they impact customers, and offer an exceptional user experience.

Conviva’s ODP platform broadens the focus from traditional monitoring metrics only to including  customer-centric metrics, such as time to purchase and session quality. The moments that matter most to users are prioritized. 

By integrating real-time data across the entire app ecosystem, Conviva enables operations teams to proactively address issues as they occur, and not hours or days later. The level of insight offered allows for targeted troubleshooting and optimization efforts to enhance overall performance. All of this helps maintain continuous service availability and user satisfaction. Every user interaction is optimized for success.

Conviva has taken a revolutionary approach to the concept of observability by taking the guesswork out of the equation. Experience-Centric Observability (ECO) is Conviva’s proprietary solution that connects the user experience to system performance in real time. Digital businesses can see the whole picture of how their customers are interacting with their technology, and how that affects their Quality of Experience (QoE). Traditional observability lacks visibility into the user experience, leaving teams no choice but to guess or infer ways to improve the experience. ECO is a sophisticated solution that offers the full visibility businesses need—every single touchpoint can be monitored. 

Originally designed to enhance video streaming experiences, Conviva’s technology extends to any application, helping to protect and enhance the user experience across platforms and services. Businesses can transform their application performance monitoring strategy to focus more on user engagement and satisfaction, driving revenue through improved user experiences.


Elevate Application Performance Monitoring with Conviva

Application performance monitoring ensures that every digital interaction—from logging in to accessing personalized content—unfolds seamlessly. Unlike conventional approaches focused solely on backend metrics, APM looks at the intricacies of user experience to identify and address issues before they impact user engagement. It is forward-thinking in multiple senses: not only by anticipating issues before they impact users but also by prioritizing high-quality experiences for digital consumers and anticipating their evolving needs.

Conviva’s Operational Data Platform embodies this approach, providing in-depth insights into critical moments impacting user experience and making real-time issue resolution possible. By monitoring every touchpoint, Conviva ensures an exceptional user journey and fosters a mindset of continuous improvement. Enhancing app performance and user engagement through application performance monitoring helps organizations stay ahead of the curve. 

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