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Monitoring your application performance in the cloud

Monitoring your application performance in the cloud


Application performance monitoring involves the supervision of applications to ensure optimal performance and availability. As distributed IT environments have grown to be more complex, IT departments have increasingly turned to a more network-centered approach for application performance management, using tools that bridge application and infrastructure, while displaying application activity across a range of platforms in a single dashboard view.

Also, when it comes to application performance monitoring, developers have to think about performance management as they build, and IT operations teams need to design application monitoring and management into their cloud deployment processes up front. Why? Because if you don’t it will be too late. You won’t have time to implement a new app monitoring solution for each new cloud app if you are a smaller company because your focus will shift to tracking user experience, right?

The number of app monitoring tools is growing every day, so it’s important to know how will we monitor our applications and where and how we should begin. Here is a list of issues we should look out for, consider or think about when monitoring our app performance in the cloud:

  • The app is right for the cloud – Not every application will perform well in the cloud so it is critical to check suitability before migration. In order to perform well, applications need the right architecture. For example, heavy communication back and forth between applications that are not localized will be a problem in the cloud where network latency is greater. For very complex applications with a large number of tier dependencies that are not all localized within the cloud environment, performance is also likely to degrade. However, applications with high levels of transactions or resource volatility that are setup correctly may see an immediate performance improvement. It is important to perform cloud readiness checks ahead of time to identify the best candidates.

  • A unified view across the hybrid environment – In order to proactively manage service quality and diagnostics, enterprises need to focus on monitoring cloud-enabled business processes from end to end – by creating a single, unified view across private cloud, public cloud and traditional services in a way that provides near real-time visibility into business processes to deliver the optimal user experience.

  • Clear business requirements – Managing application performance in the cloud needs to start at the beginning by properly defining and communicating the business requirements. This would include performance standards around availability, reliability, number of users, performance such as response times, etc.

  • The impact of infrastructure resources – When considering cloud systems, it is important to understand that the performance of an application is not just dependent upon the software stack on which it is built, but also the underlying infrastructure resources that are required to support it. Being able to correlate infrastructure resources to the applications they support, monitor those resources and measure key performance indicators will not only ensure app performance but also enable predictive performance management in the cloud.

  • The end user perspective – In the cloud we need to be able to monitor the end-user experience no matter where applications are sourced. Effective user experience management within the more dynamic environment of cloud-based applications will require creating a clear mapping between end-user services and the various cloud and in-house components supporting the service. Therefore, to fully understand how cloud applications are supporting what the business demands, IT companies must use technology that is able to non-intrusively discover and track application transactions, while measuring app performance from the end-user perspective.

  • Tracking the linkages between the virtual services and the physical devices – In a highly dynamic environment, it’s important to visually see the “as-is” state and be able to rapidly pinpoint the root cause when there is an impact event to your app. When you receive a complaint that the application is slow in the cloud, you now have to troubleshoot the virtual and physical layers to address. If you can track the linkages between the virtual services and the physical devices that power them and monitor the overall health of the service, you can greatly reduce the time needed to find the issue and get the right team involved to get it fixed.

  • Tracking behavior over time – Make sure you not only track individual transactions across multiple software elements, but also model transaction and application cross-element behavior over time. This allows you to isolate performance problems as soon as they arise by detecting changes in the behavior model and helps you understand trends that could affect your performance. Good application performance monitoring in the cloud involves repeatedly monitoring and testing a few key areas that act differently in most cloud environments than they do in traditional situations.

We can no longer consume the cloud like we consumed traditional IT. Cloud economics only make sense when we only use what we need just when we need it and when we only pay for what we need. That applies to performance management tools as well: we need monitoring that can be embedded into the application lifecycle, baked into our apps when they’re built, or easily injected when they’re released.

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  • Subhankar

    May 16, 2016

    Hi Rick,

    Really interesting article.
    You mentioned about creating a unified view across the hybrid cloud environment and also non-intrusively discover and track application transactions. Do you recommend any tools/products for this kind of end to end business transaction tracing (cross application/cross-tier) ? Or is it something which can be built in-house, considering the fact that we have to deal with multiple protocols as data moves between systems.


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