2023 update: The world of application performance monitoring (APM) has undergone significant changes in recent years, with the rise of observability as a key trend. As companies increasingly rely on complex distributed systems, traditional APM tools are no longer sufficient to provide the visibility and insights needed to ensure optimal application performance.
To explore this topic, I reached out to several leading APM companies back in 2019 to get their insights on the future of APM.
In the unedited article below, we now have the opportunity to peruse their viewpoints and discern which companies’ visions materialized.
The original July 29th, 2019 article:
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I asked 12 APM companies about the future of APM
Application Performance Monitoring (APM) first started in the late 1990s with companies such as Precise (acquired by Symantec, spun off and then acquired by Idera), Wily Technology (acquired by CA Technologies) and Mercury Interactive (acquired by HP Software Division).
In the 2000s APM tools continued to be acquired by larger vendors. Then over the past decade, the APM market has become very competitive, with major vendors – Dynatrace, AppDynamics (now owned by Cisco), CA Technologies (now owned by Broadcom), New Relic, Solarwinds and others – who’ve helped to catalyze APM.
Today, APM solutions are evolving to address the transformation of the way applications are built, delivered and accessed.
In the past year or two, I’ve seen more than a dozen of my clients sign with APM giants or with other solutions such as Instrumental, DataDog, Appoptics, Site24x7, Raygun and others.
The rise and future of the APM Market in 2020 and beyond
With the recent APM business acquisitions made by Cisco, Broadcom, Solarwinds and others, Application Performance Monitoring and Management has garnered even more attention and space for additional competitors looking to be leaders of APM, 2020 and onward.
This is why I’ve decided to ask a few of these leading and emerging APM companies about their thoughts on the future of APM in 2020 and beyond and about their role in shaping it.
Regarding the future of APM, what will application performance monitoring and management look like in 2020 and beyond, and how will your company help shape the future of APM?
“As business landscapes evolve and application complexity increases, technology professionals will increasingly leverage APM tools to achieve high-level business goals. This is due to an increased focus on customer-centricity and the idea that downtime, poor connection, and slow performance could all equate to business losses.
Integrating robust APM tools presents the opportunity to transform any business and create a strong competitive advantage, which we can expect to see more of in 2020 and beyond. SolarWinds will continue to address APM complexities in a way very few can—through our deep connection and commitment to tech pros and by offering easy-to-use, affordable solutions.”
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General Manager, Application Management, SolarWinds
“APM expands to include more functionality within IT, Ops and Business including: APM will become more Open and Integrated, enabling different teams to choose best-of-breed solutions and easily integrate for improved insight, APM becomes much more Network Focused as application delivery depends on integrating with SaaS and Cloud – the network is the computer, APM will be more Crowd-sourced and AI-driven so organizations can detect, fix and optimize their applications in real-time. Crowd-sourced datasets enable end-to-end systems performance prediction with improved modeling and APM will focus on End-user and Network Transformations as infrastructure continuously shifts to best serve the needs of business.”
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” We have definitely seen a trend towards cloud-based network monitoring software. As a software company, it is important to adapt with the times and the market. Heading into 2020, we fully expect NetCrunch will have cloud as well as AI capabilities. Remote probes will also play a major role in the future development of NetCrunch. We suspect others will follow.”
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Marketing Specialist, AdRem Software
“Application Performance Monitoring (APM) is becoming more actionable and more insightful. At Raygun, we’ve delivered a modern APM offering that gives developers answers instead of just clues. Traditional APM solutions are very good at giving you hints as to where performance bottlenecks lie, but Raygun takes things one step further, showing what the code was doing under the hood including all the methods and queries. APM tools of the future will also be leveraging more heavily on AI and machine learning, automatically raising into view the highest value improvements you can make, to give your customers better digital experiences.”
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Director of Product, Raygun
“APM will continue to adapt with log management, infrastructure & network monitoring as well as SIEM products. As a result, this unified observability solution will provide visibility into the full stack, from apps to infra, and even user experience. This, combined with the power of application-specific metrics, will allow RevOps and BizOps teams to have the data analysis tools they need to make better business decisions. Sematext will help shape the future of APM by going beyond the 3 traditional pillars of observability with the full stack observability solution, Sematext Cloud, that combines logs, metrics, traces & real user data in order to provide you with actionable insights faster.“
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CEO and Founder, Sematext
“AIOps – By taking an AIOps approach supported by machine learning and AI, APM will move beyond monitoring and gain the ability to understand what’s going on but also to ability to drive the right intelligent action, automatically. Unified, Cross-Stack Visibility – Monitoring of major cloud platforms moving to a native approach (i.e. not through extensions) will become a crucial requirement. Scale of Data Ingestion Becomes Paramount – The rise of IOT means there are far more devices and data than people, with the number of IoT-connected global devices expected to reach 75 billion in 2025.
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Senior Director Product Marketing, AppDynamics
“APM will continue to play a major role, but the importance of actually finding the root-cause of a problem will increase further. And in order to find that root cause, it will be essential to fuse information from APM tools with information from IT infrastructure monitoring tools to uncover where in the stack potential problems and bottlenecks lie. APM tools will thus need to offer this functionality or integrate with IT infrastructure monitoring tools and vice versa. We at Checkmk, for example, are planning to integrate with APM tools to help our customers’ operations and development teams to jointly identify the true root cause quickly.”
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“Architectures and languages cycle in-and-out like jean jackets and skinny jeans. The one steady march forward? Developers – not sys admins and IT departments – are more in charge of their app’s performance than ever before. We see APM focusing on the developer, tying problems to specific lines-of-code, git commits, and the subset of customers experiencing performance woes.”
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Co-Founder, Scout APM
“Application Performance Monitoring (APM) has come a long way since the advent of digital transformation, and we are seeing more and more adoption of SaaS based APM tools. The future of APM, according to me, is in supporting Serverless APM, APM support in Container Orchestration & Microservices, and AI based data correlation across Infrastructure & Network layers. At Site24x7, a SaaS based monitoring tool, we already have a full fledged APM Solution that helps DevOps team in troubleshooting performance problems in any application across all layers. Support for Serverless APM is already brewing inside and we will be ready to meet the market demands.”
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Product Manager, Site24x7 APM
The Future of APM and what to look forward to
APM has become more important because of the increase in complexity of application environments. This added complexity, makes APM even more critical to avoiding performance degradation. In addition, APM tools also need to be accessible to more people than ever before. This means that tools have to be designed to adapt to the specific needs of the individual roles within DevOps teams. There are some major advancements coming to the APM market, some of these are…
Handling Big Data, critical to the future of APM
How big is big data? There is no official size to be classified as big data. Basically, big data is data sets that are too large for traditional APM tools to process and/or analyze.
For example, the total number of containers or nodes that need to be monitored, the number and throughput of log files, volume of API communications, etc. are all rapidly increasing the quantity of data that APM tools have to process. As such, APM solutions have to find ways to process increasingly complex data, from an exploding array of software infrastructures, underlying hardware, virtual layers and vast networks.
Artificial Intelligence and machine Learning with APM
AIOps stands for “Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations” which includes but is not limited to: automation, performance monitoring and event correlations. Today, APM companies must adopt an AIOps approach. Which means, using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to derive real-time insights and increasingly automate IT operations.
We should not have to settle for solutions that only monitor performance – providing graphs and dashboards but leaving it up to you to find solutions. Instead with AI, you get actionable recommendations and automation.
Machine learning and big data are the two main aspects of an AIOps platform. The goal, through automation, is to receive continuous insights which provide actionable analytics for fixes and improvements.
Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) and the Future of APM
Digital experience monitoring (DEM) prioritizes user-experience by identifying how first-party systems and third-party services affect the end-user experience.
As defined by Gartner: “Digital experience monitoring (DEM) is an availability and performance monitoring discipline that supports the optimization of the operational experience and behavior of a digital agent, human or machine, as it interacts with enterprise applications and services. For the purposes of this evaluation, it includes real-user monitoring (RUM) and synthetic transaction monitoring (STM) for both web and mobile based end-users.”
It is wise to not only monitor Application performance, but to also monitor end-user experience because the methods and tech used to access applications continue to expand, thus affecting their digital experience.
Message to APM companies: Keep small businesses & startups in mind!
Last week, I received the following email from a client who’s been a loyal customer of one of the APM giants, for the past 4 years:
Hi Hayden, I'm thinking it'd be worth ditching [company name removed] for a lower cost APM alternative. Lately, I feel [company name removed] hasn't been very helpful in our diagnosis of issues and it's expensive (currently $250/mo ) and they've removed important features we used to use (e.g. disk, network, process tracking). Let me know if you disagree. Do you have any alternative APM's you'd recommend? You had previously recommended an alternative, but i can't find/remember what that was? Two that I've found so far are: 1. https://scoutapm.com/info/pricing $99/mo for 288k transactions per day 2. https://raygun.com/new-relic-alternative $79/mo for 250,000 traces/month $199/mo for 1,000,000 traces/month A lot of these are priced by number of transactions or traces per day or month.
As application performance monitoring and management continues to evolve and improve, APM companies would be wise to ensure they remain just as accessible and valuable to both enterprise and small business customers. With the explosion of IoT (Internet of Things) and emergence of 5G and other technologies, over the next decade we will see many startups and small businesses requiring massive and advanced APM solutions, like never before! That said, it’s very clear, that in the near future, every size and type of APM customer will have a number of great APM solutions to choose from!
After reaching out to several leading APM companies in 2019 to obtain their insights on the future of APM, it appears that their predictions have been somewhat accurate thus far. Some of these companies predicted that the rise of observability and the increased implementation of AI would be key trends
The perspectives shared by these companies have been valuable in helping us understand the direction of APM and how it evolved into Observability to meet the demands of today’s complex digital landscape.
As mentioned in the above article, “Artificial Intelligence” now plays a key role in observability. This has enabled these companies and others to leverage the capabilities of AI and machine learning to derive real-time insights that go beyond simply monitoring performance and instead receive actionable recommendations and automation for fixes and improvements.
As the data generated by modern applications continues to grow in size and complexity, it seems likely that the role of AI will only become more important in the years to come!
(First published: July 29th, 2019)