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What Is Application Performance Monitoring?

Application performance monitoring (APM) is designed to help ensure that an application’s performance meets or exceeds standards. But APMs don’t allow developers to integrate performance testing early enough. This leaves applications vulnerable to customer-facing issues.

The Benefits of Application Performance Monitoring Tools

Hearing about application performance issues from customers can have a direct impact on your bottom line. And sometimes, by the time you learn about an issue, it is difficult and expensive to fix.

Application performance monitoring tools help identify, pinpoint, and resolve performance issues. APM tools enable companies to monitor and maintain their customers’ positive app experiences as well as any service-level agreements. Typically, APM tools track an application’s performance over time and provide system administrators with data to discover, diagnose, and solve performance problems.

APM tools also help system administrators and development teams understand the impact of the different application dependencies – such as CPU utilization, memory usage, data throughput, and bandwidth consumption – on an application’s performance. For example, if memory usage is high, performance issues are more likely to arise. APM tools also monitor code execution to identify where bottlenecks may be occurring during memory-intensive processes, such as querying a database.

APM tools typically allow system administrators to create alerts that are issued when a problem arises or when an application’s performance dips below a certain pre-set threshold. While it’s useful to have these alerts, you should seek to discover issues before they reach production.

The Problem With Traditional APM Tools

If you are responsible for creating or managing a customer-facing application, you want to do everything you can to ensure that customers don’t find issues in production. For example, you don’t want to hear from customers that excessive latency is impacting the user experience. This leads to client dissatisfaction and questions from management.

Most APM tools are designed to work in production only. This means that relying solely on APM tools prevents you from finding performance issues early enough in the CI/CD process. Developers are disconnected from how their code changes affect application performance. This can create a divide between development and operations that makes it difficult to quickly find and fix performance issues. To bridge this gap, developers need more opportunity to influence the performance of their applications, which most APM tools just cannot provide.

As a result, once an application performance issue is identified, it can be difficult to diagnose the root cause. Diagnosis becomes more and more difficult the larger the gap in time between development and where the issue is identified. To uncover the root cause, teams must try to reverse-engineer the issue if it’s happening in a complex environment.

Because complexity makes it difficult to accurately diagnose the source of the issue, many problems aren’t actually solved; they’re simply patched. Worse yet, hasty fixes often cause other problems, and with every hour that passes, the problems get more challenging to fix. It therefore makes sense to identify these performance risks earlier in the process.

Once the source of the issue is identified, it needs to be fixed. This usually involves going back to the developers who wrote the code. However, because it can take weeks between development and release into production, the developers don’t get this problematic code back until long after they crafted it. At this point, the code may be unfamiliar, even to the developer who wrote it. Furthermore, other developers may have built on top of the problematic code, making it part of a bigger, more complex codebase. In the time it takes to research, replicate, and develop a fix for an issue, hundreds or even thousands of customers can be affected.

Every DevOps team should take a close look at how they can improve the time required to find, diagnose, and fix performance issues. If you’re not testing early, your customers are your testers – and this is wrought with risk. It’s a great recipe for losing revenue and perhaps even your customers.

Shift Performance Monitoring Left – With QRebel

For the reasons outlined above, it makes sense for most organizations to “shift left” to catch and fix performance issues earlier. This requires a shift in tools toward development-oriented solutions. There is now a tool built specifically for development and test that identifies performance issues early in the CI/CD pipeline. It’s called QRebel. By checking each build for performance regressions during test runs, QRebel uncovers problems long before they have an opportunity to impact the customer experience.

With QRebel, development teams can easily find inefficient code, excessive IO, and exceptions in your development and test environments. Teams can catch regressions early to identify issues and improve application performance. QRebel collects the performance metrics and sends it to a central repository for further analysis. With QRebel, there’s no need for development teams to write new tests. QRebel monitors applications running in existing test or development environments. Regressions can automatically fail builds in the Continuous Integration process, preventing issues from reaching production – and your customers. Users can view a summary of performance changes for all components in a single dashboard. They can then review the problems, assign tasks, and share root cause information within the team.

Once issues are detected, a developer needs to understand what to do with them. QRebel has a full profiler that analyzes problematic requests to pinpoint what is causing the issue. Problems are highlighted all the way down to the method level. QRebel pinpoints the root cause of a regression by continuously monitoring builds and versions.
By testing proactively, you can ensure quality performance at every stage of the Continuous Delivery pipeline. QRebel helps development teams find, diagnose, and fix application performance problems early – before they impact your customers.


Why Wait? Try QRebel Today.

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