application performance monitoring (APM)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Enhance service delivery model with WAN, application optimization
Contributor(s): Eugene Demaitre, Mark Brunelli

Application performance monitoring (APM) is an area of information technology (IT) that focuses on making sure software application programs perform as expected. The goal of performance monitoring is to provide end users with a quality end-user experience.

Application monitoring tools provide administrators with the data they need to quickly discover, isolate and solve problems that negatively impact an application's performance. Such tools can be specific to a particular application or monitor multiple applications on the same network, collecting data about client CPU utilization, memory demands, data throughput and bandwidth

One of the most important steps in any application performance monitoring initiative is combining data from disparate monitoring "silos" into a correlation engine and dashboard. The dashboard makes data logs easier to read and saves IT staff from memory-dependent and error-prone manual correlation and analysis.

In virtualized environments, application monitoring software helps administrators watch application servers so that they comply with service-level agreements (SLAs). Business rules can be set to alert an administrator when there is a problem, assuring that business-critical applications and functions are given priority. 

The monitoring of resources that support application program performance in private and hybrid cloud environments is called cloud application performance management (CAPM). The change to a more distributed network architecture in the cloud has inspired vendors to increase the performance monitoring capabilities of networked applications.


This was last updated in December 2013

Next Steps

Application performance monitoring and management software helps organizations and businesses collect and monitor data on all fronts of an app's performance. Before searching for the right APM tool, make sure you need APM software first by researching some APM software use cases. If the use cases reveal a need for APM, know that not all APM tools are built equally. But there are key features and functions that every APM tool should provide that can help you make that decision. Matching those key features up with your organization's business needs is the next step in deciding which APM software is right for your company. There are an array of APM tools out there that fit a multitude of business needs: AppDynamics, AppNeta, HPE's AppPulse, BMC's TrueSight, Dynatrace, SAP's Extended Diagnostics by CA, Dell's Foglight, New Relic APM, Sensu and Riverbed's SteelCentral.

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