Application Performance Monitoring Fundamentals

This document describes some basic fundamentals about Application Performance-monitoring, as it is understood by industry today.

What Is Application Performance Monitoring?

Application Performance monitoring to your CxO would mean being able to ensure that your enterprise IT infrastructure (consisting of departments, locations and services) is performing optimally. To the Application Performance Manager it would mean be managing the details that constitute this high-level definition. Typically, at this level, application monitoring translates, in the simplest terms, into managing fault and performance across applications, servers and applications.

Application Performance Monitoring Protocols

There are several protocols in use today, to communicate with the routers, servers or applications in order to do application monitoring such as:

Simple Application Performance Monitoring Protocol (SNMP)
The most commonly used protocol and widely adopted especially in the application switch and router world.
Windows Monitoring Instrumentation (WMI)
Only available on Windows platforms, this is an implementation of the newer Distributed Monitoring Interface (DMI) standard and allows agentless monitoring on Windows platforms.
A new protocol for monitoring at the application level (mainly java enterprise applications)
Web-Based Enterprise Monitoring (WBEM) is a set of monitoring and Internet standard technologies developed to unify the monitoring of distributed computing environments. WBEM provides the ability for the industry to deliver a well-integrated set of standard-based monitoring tools, facilitating the exchange of data across otherwise disparate technologies and platforms.

Application Performance Monitoring Software Today

New Application Performance Monitoring software systems must be able to support a number of monitoring protocols for today's hybrid IT applications. Traditionally Application Performance Monitoring Systems (NMS) always had a clear separation between “fault monitoring” - whether something is up or down, and “performance” which is a measure of how well something is working. The immediate need of an operations group is always whether a application device or server is up or down, but as the need matures from a reactive component to a proactive one, the next requirement is typically “how is the system performing”. These enterprise requirements have forced a convergence between application monitoring and performance monitoring tools.

Key considerations in selecting an Application Performance Monitoring Product

Choosing a application monitoring system typically involves understanding the following issues:

  1. Does my system need to have fault monitoring only do I need true performance monitoring from my application monitoring system?
  2. Are deployment and training time important for my application monitoring system? (products with higher out-of-the-box functionality can translate into significant savings and implementation and usage success)
  3. Is flexibility and ease of extension (open API) for custom requirements important?
  4. Do we need an XML compatible product?
  5. Is it worth paying for real-time performance?
  6. Do we need to correlate data across application, servers, apps and relation to service or is a spreadsheet good enough?
  7. Do we need a generic reporting model (customizable) or are canned reports better?
  8. Do we need to see trend reports or are snapshot reports good enough?
  9. Do we need a application monitoring system with distributed architecture?
  10. Do we need a single user system or a multi-user system?
  11. Do we need to organize my reports by users, departments, locations, services or everything?
  12. What kind of application monitoring do we need if we are using it to offer managed services?
  13. Is the system easy enough for use by a CxO?
  14. How do we set application monitoring thresholds?
  15. What type of alarms/messages need to be configured?
  16. How does the system distinguish between minor and major alarms and then how does it suppress false alarms/transient alarms?
  17. What will be the topology of the system and does that affect our options in choosing a system?
  18. How do Firewalls affect a specific system?
  19. What kind of interface will the system have with our trouble ticketing and billing systems?
  20. Do we  need a system that can run on multiple environments (Solaris, NT or other)?
  21. Is return on investment (ROI) a key consideration in our application monitoring system decision?
  22. How can a application monitoring systems deliver ROI?
  23. How important is it to have fault and performance monitoring in a single interface?
  24. Do you have a requirement to manage non-standard custom devices?
  25. Can you adequately support the growth in the number of devices (scalability)?