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Pair Network and Application Performance Monitoring for the Full Performance Picture


July 18, 2023

Achieving business success often hinges on the consistent customer experience provided by external applications. Equally important are the internal applications that drive greater operational efficiency. For the IT operations teams, site reliability engineers, and application developers who maintain these applications, application performance monitoring (APM) software is a lifesaver. These tools allow teams to observe and analyze the health, performance, and user experience of the applications they support or develop to maintain application uptime and reliability. Though APM solutions are incredibly useful, they can’t see everything that may be interfering with performance. Fortunately, network performance monitoring (NPM) solutions, like Reveal(x), can fill in the visibility gaps.

How Network Performance Monitoring Complements Application Performance Monitoring

APM solutions are designed to provide full stack observability into application performance, with a special focus on the DevOps perspective. These tools provide powerful insight down to the byte level of application code, allowing developers to pinpoint bad code leading to performance issues. This is extremely helpful when the organization “owns” the code and can fix it, less so when the application is maintained by a third party.

But what happens when the code isn’t the cause of poor performance? APM tools can identify that an application is having issues, but not why. To gather insights external to the application, APM solutions rely on agents deployed on servers, databases, and other network infrastructure components, which can get expensive rapidly.

Enter NPM. NPM solutions, like Reveal(x), are a great way to fill in the visibility gaps left by many APM tools. While they can’t inspect application code, they excel at providing insights from the network down to the application layer. Using the network as the source of truth allows teams to understand the behavior of an application, even if they don’t have insight into the code. This is key for the many organizations that purchase most of their applications from a third party and can’t review or modify the underlying code. Since NPM solutions look at performance across the entire network, they also allow teams to analyze how different applications interact with each other, making it easier to identify dependencies and root out unnecessary complexity. Further, since NPM solutions like Reveal(x) don’t rely on agents for monitoring, they don’t consume database or application resources, which can lead to further latency.

Using APM only is like having a carbon monoxide detector. Just as a carbon monoxide detector can’t tell you the source of the carbon monoxide (is it a fire or your gas range?), APM can’t tell you the source of your organization’s performance problems unless they’re caused by bad code. Supplementing with NPM is like having a high-tech fire alarm system with flame detectors and cameras, too. With full network visibility, you can correlate metrics across your environment to uncover and resolve the true cause of application and network latency more quickly.

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