Top App Monitoring Software

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Given the speed and complexity of the cloud computing era, application performance monitoring (APM) is an increasingly important element of successful business. When critical applications like Big Data software runs slowly, productivity drops, IT costs rise, and employees and customers can become frustrated.

Application performance monitoring targets these issues. It provides tools for managing code, understanding application dependencies, viewing transaction times and other technical indicators, and gauging overall user experience.

APM tools help a business know when it’s on track with overall objectives, but they also aid developers in understanding whether or not they’re coding effectively. For example, a tool may track data analytics metrics in relation to the customer journey and their overall experience. Or they may provide insight into performance issues related to servers, storage, software as a service, or other factors. On the other hand, it might deliver code level visibility into Java or .NET apps and spot problems.

These tools typically fall into three basic categories: metrics based, code level performance and network based. In the solutions below, you'll see that many tools combine some element of each of these elements.

Although every organization can benefit from APM tools, finding the right vendor and specific solution can prove challenging. Different products approach application performance monitoring in different ways, including the type of infrastructure, level of automation, the use of machine learning, and the ability to integrate with cloud applications.

Choosing the Right Application Performance Monitoring Tool: Three Tips

Understand your APM needs

Organizations should consider these functional areas when selecting a solution:

  • Digital experience monitoring (DEM), which helps optimize performance for a digital agent, human or machine, particularly as an entity connects to enterprise applications and services;
  • Application discovery, tracing and diagnostics (ADTD), which diagnoses processes and examines relationships between application servers, nodes and other systems;
  • Artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps). This use of artificial intelligence combine big data and machine learning functionality to support IT operations.

Select the right framework

There are a number of key considerations in selecting an application. These include cloud integration, IoT integration, database support, dashboard visibility and controls, reporting (including historical analytics) code language support, the ability to conduct end-to-end tracing, cross-application tracking capabilities, code-level diagnostics and tracing, and notification and alert capabilities. Each of these elements comprise the framework – and the framework must check enough of your boxes.

Choose the vendor that fits your particular needs

Due diligence is vitally important when selecting a vendor. It’s wise to thoroughly question an APM solutions provider and understand its business philosophy, technology framework and vision for the future. Other important considerations are licensing costs, update policies, service level agreement (SLA) and overall customer support. But most important: are they offering some level of flexibility for your specific business needs? Are they willing to negotiate?

In this Datamation article for application performance monitoring tools we have identified 10 top vendors/tools:

Jump to:

Broadcom (CA Technologies)

Value proposition for potential buyers: Broadcom purchased CA Technologies in late 2018. The platform—available both on premises and as a SaaS solution—delivers core APM, infrastructure, network, end-user, cloud, mainframe and business transaction monitoring within the vendor’s CA Digital Experience Insights (DXI) platform. The focus is heavily on actionable analytics that identify problem points and promote improved digital experiences. Broadcom is ranked as a “Leader” in Gartner’s MQ.

Key values/differentiators:

  • The product offers a comprehensive approach to APM. Over the last few years, the vendor has focused on modernizing its underlying technology architecture, including through a greater use of open source tools. One of the main areas of focus is visual analytics.
  • The vendor also has focused on improving the usability of its solutions through improved assisted triage workflow, Gartner noted. The system is designed to aid in identifying performance anomalies and business transactions that can be further investigated through detailed drill-downs.
  • CA aims to extend its coverage of applications and IT infrastructures. It is continuing to expand and extend core functionality to ingest a broader array of data sources through built-in functionality as well as through open source components.

Read user reviews of Broadcom (CA Technologies)

Cisco (AppDynamics)

Value proposition for potential buyers: Cisco acquired AppDynamics in 2017. The APM solution is available as both an on-premises and SaaS solution. The platform offers core APM monitoring but also analytics tools for tracking end users and various types of infrastructure, including mainframes, cloud, and SAP S/4HANA. Gartner ranks Cisco (AppDynamics) as a “Leader” on its MQ.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Cisco has added machine learning technology to the AppDynamics platform. The vendor also has added features to broaden and deepen support for the cloud. This includes microservices, serverless computing, container and hybrid environments, and cloud-native integrations.
  • The platform offers comprehensive support for tracking business processes and metrics that can aid in supporting IT as well as lines of business and the overall enterprise.
  • Cisco has established a roadmap focused on enhancing its solutions through added cloud capabilities, improved business performance monitoring, an improved UI, and greater support for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications.

Read user reviews of Cisco (AppDynamics)

Dell Foglight (Quest)

Value proposition for potential buyers: The website monitoring platform focuses on risk assessment, diagnostics, user management and server monitoring for online environments. Quest is designed to simplify IT management by encompassing a framework of data protection, database management, security, performance monitoring and more.

Key values/differentiators:

  • The Quest platform supports nearly every approach and environment, including Active Directory, Azure Active Directly, Exchange, Google, Hadoop, Office 365, Oracle, SharePoint, SQL Server and VMware.
  • The solution supports database monitoring and performance optimization. It includes advanced workload analytics tools that help organizations consolidate and standardize database performance management across diverse multi-platform environments.
  • Foglight offers a “single pane of glass” into heterogeneous virtual environments. This simplifies application monitoring and performance management for various tasks, including asset tracking, changes in machines and VM migrations. The program is particularly adept at displaying information about storage utilization, memory usage, CPU performance, disk inputs/outputs (I/O), and network I/O.

Read user reviews of Dell Foglight (Quest)

Dynatrace

Value proposition for potential buyers: The privately held firm offers an APM solution that is available on-premises, on a managed services basis or as a SaaS offering. It includes APM, DEM, infrastructure, network monitoring and AIOps capabilities—along with real-time topology and AI algorithms that automatically detect anomalies and understand the business impact across users, applications, and infrastructure. Dynatrace is ranked as a “Leader” in Gartner’s MQ.

Key values/differentiators:

  • The vendor supports a wide array of environments, from mainframe to COTS and SaaS through a combination of legacy and newer technology infrastructure and tools. The firm’s APM approach is supported by its OneAgent architecture, which focuses on total automation and zero configuration.
  • Dynatrace has continually expanded the breadth and depth of the APM solution, including greater support for cloud frameworks. In late 2017, the vendor acquired Qumrun. This added session replay to its DEM module.
  • Gartner noted that the vendor’s roadmap includes expanded support for “multicloud and hybrid architectures. This will support the greater use of purpose-built AI for faster root cause analysis and improved automation and remediation. The vendor is also expanding the use of session replays as part of customer and business journey analysis.

Read user reviews of Dynatrace

IBM

Value proposition for potential buyers: IBM offers both on-premises and SaaS-based APM solutions. Each uses an approach specifically optimized for the user’s application environment. IBM’s large network of business partners, and the product’s ability to connect with a wide range of products and solutions, makes it a popular choice for larger and mid-size organizations. Gartner ranks IBM as a “Challenger” on its MQ.

Key values/differentiators:

  • The SaaS package is a multi-tenant APM solution that is part of IBM Cloud App Management Base and Advanced. It includes a web-based UI and configurable dashboard that monitors AWS, Azure and other cloud environments using cloud-native APIs.
  • IBM includes RUM synthetic transactions monitoring, log analytics, middleware monitoring, multivariate anomaly detection, and business insight through IBM Business Monitor.
  • IBM is a leader in AI and cognitive computing. It leverages the Watson AI platform within its APM solution. It also incorporates powerful open source tools, such as the Grafana plugin, for advanced monitoring, analytics, and visualizations.

Read user reviews of IBM

Microsoft

Value proposition for potential buyers: Microsoft delivers full APM support only as a SaaS solution, though the vendor’s older System Center Operations Manager can tackle basic functions. The solution is designed to work with Azure, and it supports .NET and Java applications, along with apps written in Python, Go and Node.js. Microsoft is ranked as a “Challenger” on Gartner’s MQ.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Microsoft integrated its Application Insights tool into Azure Log Analytics to form the new Azure Monitor in 2018. This SaaS-based multitenant APM solution is deeply integrated with Microsoft Azure. It includes DEM, log analytics and cloud-native monitoring for Azure, with support for containers and Kubernetes.
  • The APM solution offers strong integration with Microsoft development tools. It also offers analytics tools that are designed to accommodate large volumes of events, logs, metrics, transactions and security.
  • Microsoft offers a consumption-based pricing model that Gartner describes as a “competitive differentiator.”
  • The roadmap for Microsoft APM revolves around adding algorithms to reduce event noise, improve forecasting performance and detecting anomalies. The vendor also plans to expand support for geographic regions.

Read user reviews of Microsoft

New Relic

Value proposition for potential buyers: The vendor offers APM only as a SaaS solution. It is designed to work with cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. It supports Kubernetes containers and microservices monitoring, as well as business-centric analytics, infrastructure monitoring and distributed tracing capabilities. Gartner ranked New Relic as a “Leader” in its MQ.

Key values/differentiators:

  • The vendor is known for delivering a robust UI and strong workflow capabilities. It is among the easiest and quickest APM solution to deploy and deliver results. It includes a powerful auto-instrumentation feature that supports major programming languages.
  • Several acquisitions have strengthened the firm’s position in recent months. In addition, New Relic invests heavily in R&D and plans to continue upgrading the platform. This includes stronger root cause analysis features, faster and better anomaly detection and event correlation, and faster incident response capabilities.
  • A February 2019 acquisition of analytics vendor SignifAI added machine learning and AI features to the platform.

Read user reviews of New Relic

Oracle

Value proposition for potential buyers: Oracle is a long-time provider of APM tools. It offers an on-premises solution through Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) and a SaaS solution through Oracle Management Cloud (OMC).  The latter platform is a multitenant framework that addresses APM requirements across applications, infrastructure and end-user monitoring environments. Oracle is ranked as a “Challenger” in the Gartner MQ.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Although OMC is optimized for Oracle infrastructure and workloads, it can be used for APM within heterogeneous environments. The solution is able to collect log and metrics data from numerous external sources.
  • The OMC APM solution is available in different configurations that are designed to address different customer needs. This includes analytics requirements and the level of orchestration required to oversee infrastructure.
  • Oracle is expanding the platform to include support for additional modern programming languages through OpenTracing. It is incorporating more robust features and capabilities through proprietary and open source tools.

Read user reviews of Oracle

Riverbed

Value proposition for potential buyers: Riverbed is a long-time provider of APM solutions. It offers several products that address different enterprise requirements. These include both on-premises and SaaS-based solutions for monitoring, analyzing and addressing anomalies and various other challenges. Gartner ranks Riverbed as a “Challenger” in its MQ.

Key values/differentiators:

  • AppInternals is Riverbed’s core APM solution. It offers agent-based, bytecode instrumentation and integrates with several other of the vendor’s products to deliver more comprehensive infrastructure monitoring and application and user management.
  • Gartner gives Riverbed high marks for delivering a consistent user experience across both on-premises and SaaS products. It also praised the company for its use of closely coupled DEM and NPMD functions, and for its ability to handle large volumes of data effectively.
  • Riverbed is working to better unify agents and features within its various APM tools and products, along with microservices and containers. In addition, it is adding support for modern languages.

Read user reviews of Riverbed

SolarWinds

Value proposition for potential buyers: The vendor entered the APM market in 2016, after acquiring the assets of AppNeta. It offers powerful tools that span IT networks, infrastructures and applications. These include host agents, SNMP polling and application dependency mapping. The vendor’s solutions are available in both on-premises and SaaS-based versions. The on-premises solution is called Server & Application Monitor (SAM) and the SaaS product is named AppOptics. Gartner ranked the company a “Niche Player” in its MQ.

Key values/differentiators

  • The vendor has added numerous features and capabilities to its AppOptics solution over the last couple of years, including support for containers such as Docker and Kubernetes. It supports code-level instrumentation and infrastructure monitoring.
  • SolarWinds is bolstering analytics capabilities and adding machine learning tools that are designed to automate processes and reduce complexity. This includes combining tracing, metrics, logging and end-user data into a unified workflow, and adding time-series prediction and classification features.
  • The vendor’s tools are designed primarily for small and mid-size organizations. They are ideal for businesses looking to deploy a solution based on a simpler consumption model. SolarWinds is known for solutions that are intuitive and straightforward.

Read user reviews of SolarWinds

Top Application Performance Management Comparison Chart

Vendor

Focus

Key Differentiator

Key features

Broadcom (CA Technologies)

 

On premises and SaaS APM that revolves around actionable analytics to improve digital experiences.

Offers a digital Experience Insights (DXI) platform that addresses infrastructure, network, cloud, end-users, and business transaction monitoring.

Analytics tools; assisted triage workflow that offers drill-down visibility into issues.

Cisco (AppDynamics)

 

Offers on premises and SaaS APM with monitoring, diagnostics and analytics.

Addresses a wide array of APM requirements, including mainframes, clouds, and SAP S/4HANA.

Supports business and IT metrics; integrated machine learning and powerful cloud tools.

Dell Foglight (Quest)

 

A SaaS-based APM solution that risk assessment, diagnostics, user management and server monitoring for online environments.

The Quest platform provides tools that consolidate and standardize database performance management across diverse multi-platform environments.

Database monitoring; performance optimization; advanced workload analytics.

Dynatrace

 

APM available on-premises, as a managed service or as a SaaS solution.

OneAgent architecture supports a wide array of environments, from mainframe to COTS and SaaS through a combination of legacy and newer technology infrastructure and tools.

Offers real-time topology and AI algorithms that automatically detect anomalies and understand the business impact across users, applications, and infrastructure.

IBM

 

SaaS-based multi-tenant APM solution.

Includes a web-based UI and configurable dashboard that monitors AWS, Azure and other cloud environments using cloud-native APIs. Offers strong AI capabilities.

RUM synthetic transactions monitoring, log analytics, middleware monitoring, multivariate anomaly detection, and business insight.

Microsoft

 

Full APM support available through a SaaS solution. Basic APM functionality though System Center Operations Manager.

The solution works with Azure and supports .NET and Java, along with apps written in Python, Go and Node.js.

Includes DEM, log analytics and cloud-native monitoring for Azure, with support for containers and Kubernetes.

New Relic

 

SaaS-based APM.

Auto-instrumentation framework supports cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud with an excellent UI and strong workflow features.

Dashboard provides deep visibility into applications and performance. Includes machine learning and AI features.

Oracle

 

Offers on-premises and SaaS-based APM through different applications.

Oracle Management Cloud handles Oracle workloads as well as heterogeneous frameworks. The solution is available in different versions for different specific purposes.

Strong analytics and orchestration features. Growing support for modern programming languages and open source tools.

Riverbed

 

Offers on-premises and SaaS APM.

Riverbed’s core APM solution, AppInternals, delivers agent-based, bytecode instrumentation and deep integration with the vendor’s other products and tools.

Offers coupled DEM and NPMD functions; supports large volumes of data through comprehensive infrastructure monitoring and application and user management.

SolarWinds

 

Offers on-premises and SaaS solutions.

Offers powerful tools that span IT networks, infrastructures and applications. These include host agents, SNMP polling and application dependency mapping.

The SaaS solution, AppOptics, supports Docker and Kubernetes, along with code-level instrumentation and infrastructure monitoring.



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