With tasks like server maintenance, network issues and providing user support, maintaining a web application is complicated. Application Performance Management (APM) offers tracking, unified monitoring and analytics for backend and frontend of applications which makes it easier for organizations to detect and rectify any problems faced. From enhanced user experiences and increased uptime to lesser expenses and reduced risks, APM tools provide organizations with multiple benefits.
More web application-based organizations have started to believe in the power of application performance management tools and invest in them heavily. The global APM market is projected to reach US$11.9 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 11.2% over the period 2020-2027. The APM industry in the US is expected to touch US$1.7 billion and China is to reach US$ billion a CAGR of 10.8% .
With so many options available in the market, choosing the right APM software for your organization can be tricky. Just like every organization is different, every APM tool is designed for different kinds of organizations. Therefore, doing your due diligence to find the right fit is imperative as it will help you increase your organization’s efficiency and make sure that you deliver exceeding your customer’s needs. In this blog, we will try to explain what APM is and which are the best APM tools that are available in the market today.
Introduction to Application Performance Management and APM Tools
Though APM stands for Application Performance Management, it is also at times referred to as Application Performance Monitoring. Though the two phrases are used interchangeably in the industry, there is a slight difference between monitoring and management. Monitoring typically means regular automated scanning of web applications while management is comparatively a more active role.
So, what is APM? APM is keeping an eye on potential issues as well as performance blockages in web applications from both a users’ and backend point of view. It is an umbrella term that covers management and monitoring of a software application’s performance. It includes everything from detecting clow transactions to code-level diagnostics. APM solutions can track overall app usage and help you understand spikes and slumps in traffic, find connection issues with app dependencies which include queues, caching and SQL, find the slowest web pages and transactions and much more.
The APM market is broad and many software companies can call themselves APMs. This is why Gartner created a list of criteria that a tool or a software needs to meet in order to qualify as an APM tool. According to Gartner’s guidelines, an software should have all of the following three things to call itself an APM :
App discovery, diagnostics and tracing: This helps you dig into the details of your app to diagnose and discover potential issues your customers can face on your app.
Digital experience monitoring: An APM tool helps you discover if the user’s experience was a smooth one, did they face any glitches or bugs, was the transaction successful, etc.
Purpose-built AI for IT operations: AI or Artificial Intelligence is used commonly to back the automation of these processes
So, if you’re finding an APM tool for your application, these are the 3 core elements you should be looking for. Now that you know what you should be looking for in application monitoring tools, here are our 7 top picks for the best APM tools available in the industry. We’ve covered options for every type of business.
Designed primarily for IT professionals and enterprise customers, Loupe is an easy to set-up that consists of all the basic features APM tools must have. It is one of the most lightweight application performance monitoring tools that can be easily delivered via the cloud (as a SaaS solution) and hosted in your own data centre.
Loupe allows you to trace performance, events along with other metrics to work out the root cause of the app glitches and issues affecting the performance. It automatically groups log events so that you can detect and address performance issues with ease. However, please remember that Loupe only supports Java and .NET web applications. The software can be integrated with your various other tech tools and help you track the most relevant data about issues that need your attention.
Best for: Small businesses and IT administrators
Free Trial: 30 Days
Pricing: After the free trial expires and you are satisfied with what the tool has to offer, you can choose from their 3 plans which start at $50 a month (for early-stage apps) and go up to $500 a month (for large-scale enterprises).
Started out as an independent company, AppDynamics is now owned by multinational tech conglomerate Cisco Systems. The fact that the software is powered by Cisco gives it infinite credibility. Apart from the must-have features of APM tools like infrastructure and end-user monitoring, AppDynamics offers high visibility, even in complex ecosystems along with Artificial Intelligence-backed systems for detecting performance bottlenecks. The software also offers recommendations and insights by comprehending performance data into business outcomes.
AppDynamics has additional powerful tools that help you ensure great performance round the clock. It will also help you identify which apps are likely to get into trouble when the demand is high. It also lets you see from where the most demand for your services comes from along with which of your services are the most in demand.
Best for: Medium to large-scale industries
Free Trial: 15 Days
Pricing: A free version of AppDynamics is available which is known by ‘AppDynamics Lite’. The paid version is available for free trial for 15 days after which pricing has to be requested.
Scouter markets itself to be a FOSS alternative to AppDynamics. According to its reviews, it is powerful and well-rated. What more? It is absolutely free to use. One of the few APM tools available out there. Scouter supports Java-based applications, both native and web-based. The tool can also monitor the leading web server database platforms like Apache, Redis, MySQL and Nginx. The tool does a good job of including all the basic APL features such as resource metrics, response time and user activity.
Best for: Small-scale businesses
Pricing: Free to use
Datadog is one of the most trusted application monitoring tools out there that allows complete visibility into your apps, servers and cloud-centric platforms. It offers cloud-based monitoring for applications, infrastructure and events. This APM tool allows you to reduce latency, remove bottlenecks, increase code efficiency and track errors to optimize your application to the fullest. It can monitor all types of on-premise, hybrid and cloud-based systems. The tool is capable of auto-detecting anomalies to surface concerns and reduce alert fatigue with an ML-based watchdog.
Datadog software has powerful features that’ll enhance your user’s experience by helping you swiftly monitor it and helps you keep on eye on transactions, network timings and much more. It does a great job of helping you clearly visualize your app’s performance. Its dashboard is attractive, customizable and gives you the liberty to build a monitoring system that helps you prioritize what matters the most to you. Datadog’s dashboard also allows you to create different views with different levels of functionalities to individual team members.
Best for: Small businesses
Free Trial: 14 Days
Pricing: Commences at $31 a month per host. There are various plans available along with different add-ons.
Designed primarily for web applications, Stagemonitor is a Java-based application performance monitoring tool. It has limited features as compared to others on the list, but if you work specifically with Java applications, this tool might be just the right fit for you. Stagemonitor’s differentiating feature is definitely it’s browser widget that allows you to gather, monitor and manage data as you’re developing the app. This unique feature enables you to review your code while you’re developing it which makes it an amazing choice for web developers.
Stagemonitor can also be deployed on your own data center. It uses Open Tracing API to correlate requests in a well-organized and distributed system. It gives you the freedom to define your standards for the metrics of measurement you choose and manage subscriptions. You’d also be happy to know that this software is available for free as it is a FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) and won’t cost you a penny to use it.
Best for: Web developers and early-stage businesses
Free Trial: Free to use
6. Splunk IT Service intelligence
This company generates a range of performance monitoring tools which include infrastructure management but the one for APM is called Splunk IT Service Intelligence. Splunk is an AI-powered APM tool that is best known for its predictive reports that help you see where capacity issues might occur. The software includes features that help in monitoring hardware and events statuses to give you actionable insights into the low performance causes.
The APM by Splunk is designed to indicate troughs and peaks in demand and forecast demand surges. This gives you the ability to prepare yourself for times of high traffic and schedule batch jobs in quieter times.
In case you’re already associated with other APM tools, you can opt for Splunk’s ITSI module add-on which analyzes the log files on your existing APMs to give your application predictive capabilities.
Best for: Medium and large-scale organizations
Free Trial: 15-day trial on its Sandbox version and 60-day trial on its Enterprise version
Pricing: After the free trial, Splunk Enterprise costs $1,800 a year. It also has other pricing options which can be availed on requesting.
7. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor
It is a cost-effective application performance monitoring tool that supports Pytho, .NET, PHP, Java, Ruby and many more languages. The tool is capable of monitoring SaaS and web applications. It supports a comprehensive code-level performance monitoring and helps you fix the issues faced by users in real-time.
SolarWinds was established in the United States in the year 1999 and today it has a staff of 150 working for it. It offers a wide suite of infrastructure support tools which share data with each other, so the more of them you integrate with your application, the more and better insights you get.
One of the best features of this tool is its AppStack module. which gives you a clear representation of the apps running on your system with all of the support and hardware services displayed in a stack, one below the other. This is helpful especially if you operate your web applications in a cloud-based environment or remote servers. This is because it aids you to see almost immediately where the underlying services are slowing down your app performance.
Best for: Large-scale organizations
Free trial: 30-days
Pricing: In order to know the pricing, you need to request a quote.
It is certain that there isn’t any shortage of APM tools on the market. Some of the application performance monitoring tools are available for free and some can be acquired at a cost. Some are best for small businesses and some are built for supporting large-scale organizations. Therefore, it is imperative to analyze what each of the tools you’ve shortlisted have to offer before finalizing the perfect fit for your requirements.
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 Report Linker (2020) “Global Application Performance Management (APM) Market to Reach $11. 9 Billion by 2027. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for Application Performance Management (APM) estimated at US$5.” [Online] Available from: https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/09/08/2089888/0/en/Global-Application-Performance-Management-APM-Industry.html#:~:text=The%20Application%20Performance%20Management%20(APM,analysis%20period%202020%20to%202027. [Accessed December 2020]
 Gartner (2020) “Application Performance Monitoring (apm)” [Online] Available from: https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/application-performance-monitoring-apm [Accessed December 2020]