Application Performance Management (APM) isn’t a brand new acronym – but it is one that is getting more visibility. Its focus is on monitoring and managing the performance and availability of software applications, which are seen as increasingly critical to overall business performance. APM also can apply to applications running in the cloud.
Industry analysts say that IT organizations are using the marriage of analytics and APM to shift their emphasis, from system-level components to gauging the responsiveness of applications to end-users.
IDC estimates that the worldwide APM market will total $2.5 billion in 2013, representing 13.2% growth over 2012. “We expect the worldwide APM market to reach $3.5 billion by 2016,” says Mary Johnston Turner, a research vice president at IDC. Turner adds that the growing worldwide APM market “is fueled by an increasing need for application and end-user experience visibility across complex virtual, cloud, and mobile environments.”
IDC’s research indicates that increasing numbers of IT development and operations teams are shifting monitoring software priorities away from system-level component monitoring toward application and end-to-end user impact analysis. “IT decision makers need to maintain visibility and control over the end-to-end application and end-user experience,” Turner says.
Gartner’s Jonah Kowall, research director, IT operations management, agrees with that assessment, noting that “it is increasingly important that organizations should start to thinking about APM as part of their monitoring and management picture.”
Sifting Through Application Performance Data
Glenn O’Donnell of Forrester Research says he has seen a huge increase in interest in analytics because it can help cut through the mass of data from reporting tools and provide understanding about what is really happening and why. The interest in the field may has grown to such an extent that analytics focusing on application performance merits its own label, according to Dennis Drogseth, a vice president at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).
At EMA, Drogseth now describes the advancing APM field as Advanced Performance Analytics, defined as bringing “real-time or near real-time ‘big data’ to IT operations, architects, service managers and even applications development, as well as IT executives and non-IT business stakeholders.”
Drogseth says these analytics products are built on traditional service performance management, but instead of using a siloed approach to application performance monitoring, they provide a broader, cross-domain look at not only speeds and feeds but also business outcomes. That means viewing an application’s performance in context with its interdependencies across the infrastructure. What makes APM interesting right now, says Drogseth, is the range of vendor offerings. Some are focused on business outcomes, some are focusing on user experience, and some are looking at application-dependent issues,” he says.
Players in the Field
In a recent report, “EMA Radar for Advanced Performance Analytics Use Cases: Q4 2012,” Drogseth profiled 22 vendors and noted six as worth watching for their capabilities. Among those were:
- AccelOps because it had the “best integrated security along with a centralized monitoring and analytic foundation that draws in balanced fashion to support security operations center and the network operations center requirements.
- Compuware because it had the best DevOps support (a software development method that stresses communication, collaboration and integration). The company also got kudos for the combination of its dynaTrace, and Gomez products – the former having strengths in code-level and data-center analytics and the latter offering rich support for mobile, Web-2.0, and geographically relevant environmental testing. The company also got praise for its User Experience Management capabilities.
- IBM because its new and updated products “may well represent the single largest collective vendor investment” in the industry, including Netcool OMNIbus, for service performance, change impact and compliance; Tivoli Business Service Manager, for optimizing IT-delivered business services; Tivoli Application Dependency and Discovery Manager, SmartCloud Monitoring, for capacity and optimization analytics, as well as several other products.
- Netuitive because it is an “Advanced Performance Analytics market definer” – meaning it pursued broad analytic capability early and has a well matured capability in the area.
- SevOne because EMA says it has the best infrastructure-optimized analytics and because of the power and performance of its offering and “customer enthusiasm.”
- Zyrion got EMA’s blessing as the most balanced Advanced Performance Analytics performer especially relative to “performance and business impact.”
“It is a very progressive area with a lot happening,” Drogseth adds.
Forrester’s O’Donnell also cites established management software companies such as CA, HP and IBM as important players but identifies Compuware as notable for refocusing their corporate strategy around APM several years ago. “They have done very well with that and have shown real leadership,” he notes.
The Cloud Use Case
APM use cases extend beyond the data center to cloud computing, says Michael Kopp, the technology strategist at the Compuware APM Center of Excellence.
“Most companies don’t develop new applications for the cloud, they want to leverage what they have,” Kopp says. Unfortunately, in Kopp’s view, those applications may not be ready for the requirements of the new environment, including potentially much greater demand.
“Some customers end up with big problems that they don’t recognize until there is a meltdown,” says Kopp. APM can help by providing monitoring and visibility into the end-user experience. “You want to be able to ensure that they will have an experience that is at least as good as it was before the application moved to the cloud,” he adds.
Alan R. Earls is a business and technology writer based near Boston.