The Importance of Application Performance Management (APM) for Cloud-based Networks

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Cloud-based networks became a ubiquitous part of the networking world with the rise of 4G and 5G, and with that development came a slew of new user applications. The growth of network and application infrastructure has benefited users in both professional and personal use cases, but the sheer volume of new cloud-based applications has also placed additional pressure on networking infrastructure and management teams.

What can cloud-based networks and their administrators do to keep up with applications while maintaining a solid user experience? Application performance management (APM), a concept that includes both tools and processes, is designed to help networks check on and improve upon the overall performance of individual applications. Read on to learn more about some of the specific benefits APM can have for your cloud-based network.  

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Table of Contents:

Digital Experience Monitoring for All Types of Users

The primary goal behind APM technology is to enhance the digital experience of all users, whether they’re human, robot, or AI devices. It starts the enhancement process through digital experience monitoring, allowing you to sit in the seat of the user and view the application experience through their eyes. 

Digital experience monitoring helps you to answer questions like:

  • What’s the user’s load time and lag time on different applications? 
  • How do times and efficiency change during peak traffic times? 
  • How and why are certain regions having different user experiences? 
  • Does it matter that certain cloud devices and IoT devices have completely different user interfaces and complexity levels available for different applications? 

Synthetic monitoring and edge monitoring are also options with APM, and these options enable you to synthetically check applications in their discovery/test environment phase and check on devices outside of the traditional cloud infrastructure, respectively. APM works to answer performance questions and solves problems, or alerts your team to those larger problems.

Application Performance Monitoring and Improvements Through APM

APMs are designed to do much more than application performance monitoring; they work to apply a full-cycle management approach. This means that when an APM tool identifies a problem on the network, unless it is a complex or multifaceted issue that requires software engineers to scour several devices and programs, the APM resolves the issue itself and reports it to the team.

Through the network topology map that APM tools create, they can also identify and alert you to future issues that are showing signs of emerging. 

Additional Network and Workflow Visibility for Network Administrators

To track the performance of transactions amongst your network, users, servers, and devices, APM tools need detailed visibility on all activity happening in the network. In order to get that level of visibility, APM tools often apply user-defined transaction profiling, which demarcates each step that happens between the end user’s experience and any applications, software, data, and other resources involved in completing that transaction.

The final product of this detailed performance mapping process is called a network topology map. The map visually represents how everything in your network infrastructure works together to produce different results across applications, while also showing where your network faces major dependencies or holes in efficiency. 

The level of visibility in a network topology map is useful for a number of reasons: 

  • Your network administrators can visualize how everything works together through the topology map, and will likely realize which parts of your network infrastructure are being overused or underused, thus giving them specific performance improvement goals.
  • If there is a performance problem for a certain application or user, you can trace that part of the topology map to determine exactly where the problem is happening.
  • Although this is not the primary purpose for APM or network topology maps, the visual representation of what’s happening across devices and applications may help you pinpoint threats and security breaches at an exact point in the data transaction process.

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Observability and Network Visibility

Observability is a newer, exciting development in the APM world when it comes to application and network visibility. It goes beyond traditional application performance monitoring by using performance data collection and analysis technology to assess performance on an ongoing basis, rather than just in periodic samples. This data is collected nonstop, and machine learning is applied simultaneously to analyze performance more regularly and in-depth. Here are just a few ways that observability techniques can add even more visibility for your network administrators:

  • Observability uses machine learning to find performance trends even if your team and your benchmarks have not yet found them. If you’re in the early stages of a new cloud network problem, observability will give you insight sooner rather than later. 
  • Traditional monitoring tools and processes collect samples every minute or so, which catches most problems in application use very quickly. However, observability analyzes data on an almost instantaneous basis, without requiring the analytical efforts of your team. This level of efficiency can improve your team’s response time and the overall customer service experience in cloud-based networks and applications.
  • Observability is beginning to enter into AIOps, using increased network visibility and AI functionality to find problems and optimization opportunities in the network’s infrastructure. A self-healing network is becoming even more of a reality through this kind of visibility.

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Setting and Tracking Network Performance Benchmarks with APM

Organizations set performance expectations for their employees and products, so why wouldn’t you set up similar metrics for your network and applications? Another key benefit of APM solutions is establishing a centralized hub for performance measurement, which helps you to see where your network’s performance is as a whole and where certain areas are rising above or falling behind. The performance metrics in most APMs are designed to track things like user experience and computational capacity.

This centralized hub, or dashboard, finds the trends in your network and alerts your system administrators when something is bottlenecking on one of your applications or for specific users. Even more importantly, most APM tools are designed to provide contextual information so that administrators not only know that there’s a problem, but have additional suggestions or ideas for how to solve it.

With all of this information in hand, your team can make calculated decisions about what your network benchmarks should be and any goals you want to set for application and network improvements on smaller and larger scales. 

Establishing a Cloud Business Strategy with APM

More devices, more users, more data processed at every corner. The modern cloud network has a lot to track, and for both public and private cloud networks, it can be difficult to manually assess and correct the health of every feature on the network.

APM helps you to address the depth and breadth of actions on your network by automating performance management. The networking team will still have plenty of work to do, but APM reduces some of that load by monitoring performance throughout the network, making quick fixes automatically, and sending reports and notifications to your team for further analysis or investigation. APM tools are a core part of your business strategy, ensuring you meet the performance expectations of your customers while automating the process and freeing up time for your busiest network administrators.

Are you looking for an APM solution for the sake of your network’s overall health and performance? Check out this product selection tool from TechnologyAdvice for Best Network Monitoring Software and Tools for 2021.

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Shelby Hiter
Shelby Hiter
Shelby Hiter is a writer with more than five years of experience in writing and editing, focusing on healthcare, technology, data, enterprise IT, and technology marketing. She currently writes for four different digital publications in the technology industry: Datamation, Enterprise Networking Planet, CIO Insight, and Webopedia. When she’s not writing, Shelby loves finding group trivia events with friends, cross stitching decorations for her home, reading too many novels, and turning her puppy into a social media influencer.

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