February 8, 2015

Best Practices for Modern Application Monitoring – An Exploration

modern-monitoring

Regardless of your website or business, the use of Web applications for critical communication or business transactions is ever-growing. Because of the importance and influence applications have on digital reputations, and even business revenue, it’s essential that these applications are continuously monitored for performance, stability and availability. In order to establish a stable and high-performing environment, it’s imperative that you adhere to several application monitoring best practices.

Number of Applications

Perhaps one of the most damaging mistakes system administrator’s make is utilizing an application monitoring solution incapable of effectively monitoring their entire application library. With more than one-third of online businesses supporting over 10 internal applications, it’s imperative that your enterprise utilize an application monitoring solution capable of supporting this large number of applications. On the other hand, if you’re only hosting a handful of applications, then you may not need the scope of monitoring offered by select solutions.

Application Hosting Location

For years, Web applications were hosted locally on private or shared servers. However, as the complexity of applications grew, the need for equally complex/dynamic hosting also grows. Because of this, many application developers chose to host their applications on the cloud. Therefore, traditional monitoring solutions designed to monitor locally hosted applications may not be a viable option. While the latest research suggests 58 percent of applications are hosted on local servers, a staggering 56 percent of applications are hosted on private cloud systems. However, there is a unique trend among cloud-based applications. Out of the all applications hosted on non-local servers, 46 percent of applications have moved from private cloud services to the public cloud, which introduces a whole new set of unique monitoring requirements.

Integrated Monitoring Solutions

The use of integrated monitoring solutions is among the most effective ways to effectively monitor and manage your Web applications. In fact, 80 percent of application developers who utilize integrated solutions are able to correct errors before it has time to affect the end-user experience. When you compare this to only 48 percent of standalone monitoring solutions, it’s clear that integrated monitoring solutions offer faster error recognition as it learns and grows within your infrastructure, not alongside it.

Moreover, when you compare the actual time it takes from an error report to be sent to a correction being implemented, the difference between integrated and standalone monitoring solution is staggering. In fact, 52 percent of error reports sent via an integrated solution were corrected within one hour, while only 32 percent of standalone solutions were able to correct errors within the same time window.

Top Priorities for Application Monitoring

application-performance-monitoring

As the new era in applications and website developments continues to evolve and become more complex, the priorities of application monitoring are simultaneously evolving. IT developers and application administrator’s must shift their focus to ensure their applications sustain optimum performance levels based upon new and dynamic technologies. While actual priorities are based upon your unique application infrastructure and its intended purpose, the following priorities are considered toe universal among all applications.

Universal Priority – Operational Efficiency

As Web applications become more dynamic, and with more and more applications utilizing both local and virtual components, the need for operational efficiency is greater than it’s ever been before. Because of this, the majority of application developers state their top priority is working on ways to improve operational efficiency within application development, monitoring and deployment. While there are many ways to accomplish this goal, by implementing a well-equipped application monitoring solution, the needs and requirements of management and monitoring are streamlined into a single interface. This consolidating of control panels works to streamline communication between applications and IT team.

Integration of Public Cloud Storage for Applications

The use of the cloud in the digital realm is growing with each passing day. Due to the flexibility and scalability of the cloud, many application developers and network administrator’s chose to access public cloud storage to host application components and operations. In fact, a recent study found that 25 percent of all application developers are currently developing new applications on public clouds. Moreover, nearly 20 percent of existing applications are beginning to migrate to the public cloud.

Increased Awareness of Specific Components

Due to the increase of digital communication between businesses and customers, many application developers have found a need for three specific types of application monitoring. These include:

  • Application Transaction Analytics
  • Clickstream Analytics
  • Log File Analytics

With these three specific monitoring techniques, administrator’s have full control over the operation and performance of their applications. It’s only when you have this information an application is able to be fully understood and supported.

Highlight Mobile Development and Support

The majority of new customers and visitors come from mobile devices. In fact, experts within this field project the use of mobile devices will soon outweigh the use of traditional online platforms, such as desktop computers. Because of this, application developers must highlight the development and support of mobile applications. For many, this is a new realm. Therefore, in order to retain a successful venture, you must implement an effective mobile application monitoring solution, which works much like its traditional counterpart; however, its primary monitoring agents are geared toward the unique challenges and infrastructure avenues found only with mobile application environments.

Achieving Security and Performance with Application Monitoring Solutions

When it comes to implementing new or upgraded applications into an enterprise, the majority of IT departments are typically more concerned with the security and stability of such applications rather than the overall performance of these page elements. However, as research has shown, the majority of users are more concerned with the performance of an application. They expect the host of an application to take necessary security protocols without experiencing a drop in performance or functionality. Therefore, one of the most important processes that must be present on the minds of application developers is how to sustain security without altering the performance of applications?

While the answer to this question can vary, the fundamental truth is when an application is stable and performing at optimum capabilities, its security is simultaneously strong. The only way for an application to succeed is for its physical and virtual components to be stable. The only way for these components to be stable is through effective monitoring for both performance and security.

In order to sustain a secure and stable application, it’s imperative that all parts are monitored through a well-equipped application monitoring solution. These tools continually monitor and manage the activity within the application. By establishing a performance and security baseline, any and all deviations from this threshold are instantly reported. It’s through this reporting feature, corrections may be implemented before errors or security threats are able to develop and grow.

Effective Monitoring Techniques

Of course, there are many different ways you may monitor your applications. Some techniques are solely based upon the size, scope and infrastructure of an application while others are directly influenced by the amount of traffic experienced. Regardless, there are several fundamental monitoring techniques you must implement to sustain security and stability.

The first of these is end-to-end monitoring. This broad scope monitoring level captures data starting from the opening of an application and throughout its various communications with servers and databases. The only way to ensure the entire infrastructure of an application is healthy and operating within its desired thresholds is through end-to-end web application monitoring. There are many services that offer this level of monitoring; however, it’s important to select a tool capable of supporting your unique and dynamic application as well as one capable of expanding as your applications evolve.

Next, and perhaps the most important, application monitoring technique is known as transaction monitoring. As a user engages with an application, it communicates with servers and databases through a series of transactions. These bits of information are the lifeblood of an entire application. Transaction monitoring literally monitors the health and performance of these transactions while gathering data for in-depth reports and logs regarding the efficiency and performance of an application.