Four Ways Ops Teams Can Leverage APM to Meet Modern Requirements

In 2021 a new generation of APM tools are offering help to those working in hard-to-troubleshoot hybrid and cloud environments. SolarWinds’ Melanie Achard shares 4 ways how today’s APM is making an impact for modern environments.

Tags: APM, apps, cloud, collaboration, DevOps, integration, IT Ops, SLAs, visibility,

Melanie Achard, SolarWinds
Melanie Achard
Director of Product Marketing

"Modern APM can remove visibility gaps, making it possible to rapidly translate the impact of issues to technical and business team members."

Application Architecture Summit
Modern Application Development for Digital Business Success
September 23,
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Hype hath proclaimed everyone is all-in on moving to cloud, but IT pros know hybrid isn’t going anywhere in a hurry, if ever.


The complexity in our infrastructure stems mostly from applications, and this backbone has more elements to break when app components are distributed. If the network fails, apps break. If storage fills, apps break. If the database fails, apps break. If security fails, apps break. If code fails, apps break. We tolerate it because cloud can do some amazing circus tricks.


Application teams have a go-to technology “safety net” designed for decentralized, non-root accessible infrastructures:  Application Performance Management, or APM.


APM tools are getting better, faster, more affordable, more proactive, and more interactive. They’ve also become better integrated out of the box for new and legacy components without weeks or months of customization, making it useful for most apps, not just critical services. 


Even better, in 2021 a new generation of APM tools are coming available to offer even smarter, deeper and proactive benefits, especially to those working with hard-to-troubleshoot hybrid and cloud environments.


Here are four ways your ops team can use the new generation of APM tools to help your business and IT teams keep even hairy applications running smoothly.

1. APM Removes Visibility Gaps for Technology and Business Users

The key to modern APM is a “single pane of glass” of rich visibility and control, useful to both technology and business users and vital in an outage.


Here’s an example:


During an NFL® “Big Game” ad, a supermarket chain promoted their home delivery service by encouraging viewers to order in their beer, chips, and dip via an app. A record number of users took them up on it.


Unfortunately, the mobile app was a proxy layer on the consumer-facing website, and it didn’t have the ability to auto-scale. First, the app became unusable under the crush of incoming orders. Then the backend became overwhelmed, breaking the employee-facing fulfillment and invoicing systems. With traffic still climbing, delivery drivers gave up on app timeouts and improvised paper order tracking and payments. Finally, retail store POS terminals shut down, and irate customers lit up social media.


With no way to coordinate visibility into the situation’s scope and severity, it was difficult for the company to react with a coherent and implementable plan. It was a disaster all around.


Modern APM implementations can remove the visibility gaps across the end-to-end experience, making it possible to rapidly translate the impact of issues to technical and business team members.

2. APM Cuts Across All Your Tech No Matter Who Owns It

It doesn’t matter if you’re using a cloud-first infrastructure, legacy on-premises, or a hybrid combination of both. You need a firm grip on whether your apps are available and performing as expected.


But traditionally, we track only high-value or marquee applications and infrastructure. This seems sensible until we remember we often switch between different systems and applications -- and poor performance can send ripples across the entire workforce.


If a software as a service (SaaS) solution such as Microsoft® Office 365® or Google® Workspace is the core of your business collaboration, what happens when the cloud is down, broken, or slow? Without email, you could be stopped in your tracks. IT may manage it, but SaaS apps tend to be owned by a village.


Modern APM can offer consistent capabilities, ease of implementation, and integration for more than the data center owner. It cuts across all the technology your business uses no matter who owns it.

3. Modern APM Gives You Service-Level Visibility and Actionability

APM can do more than warn you when you’re in danger of violating service-level agreements (SLAs). Because APM extends observation to SaaS environments, tech pros can independently prove SLA failures or performance/availability issues.


Additionally, APM’s specialty is measuring actual user experience quality -- even user happiness. That’s important because it really doesn’t matter if a service availability SLA is being met if the application isn’t working as the business needs it to.


You may not be able to prevent the downtime (or slowness) of a SaaS provider. But APM lets you speed resolution by identifying likely underlying causes, even if they’re in someone else’s data center.


It’s much easier to focus on resolution when the details of interruptions and degradations are communicated in the initial outage update email. “We’re on the phone with the vendor” leaves more troubleshooting headroom than “We’re looking into it.”

4. Modern APM Helps You Collaborate and Coordinate

When you need all hands on deck, speed, and complete visibility, APM can help coordinate all the moving parts. APM should be deployed broadly in different teams with easy access to all staff.


Silos stink. They exist because reasons, but coordination between IT teams has never been improved by throwing tickets over a wall and hoping they’ll end up in the right hands.


This might have worked when applications were largely managed within a single team, but today the business stakes of poor cross-team communication are simply too high.


Modern, proactive APM helps IT pros collaborate effectively to troubleshoot problems otherwise lost in the cracks. Even multi-factor incidents can be resolved when processes and systems encourage coordinated responses and reduce stress. Business and technology experts can be eager teammates, bringing a more complete perspective with the right tool.


During APM implementation, relevant teams, business requirements, and technology come into focus when you’re sharing the same screen. Incident response and planning are streamlined with shared deep visibility. Rapidly diagnosing and fixing issues as they arise becomes predictable and repeatable.


Despite some optimistic assessments, the complexity of this hybrid world will be with us for years to come. While this is somewhat disappointing, operations engineers are great at finding ways to monitor and manage apps no matter how their components are arranged. For them, APM is a natural evolution keeping watch throughout the transformation of applications.


Times of change are breakthrough opportunities for teams to prepare for the future, reduce friction, or even position the business for additional success. And APM is an effective tool to ensure your efforts align with business needs instead of just maintaining technology.


Melanie Achard is a Director of Product Marketing at SolarWinds, with a  focus on the growth of the company’s DevOps products—Pingdom, AppOptics, Papertrail, and Loggly. She has  30 years of IT experience across multiple technology disciplines—from systems administration, IT security, and regulatory compliance to external device management and mobile applications.