Tools to monitor application performance have been around a long time. Capturing insufficient performance data is not the main issue preventing better application monitoring and troubleshooting. The issue has always been what to do with the captured data to increase performance, and how to do it cost effectively. Technology advanced to answer those questions, and today, comprehensive Application Performance Management (APM) software solutions, like Germain Software, combine the data capture of early monitoring systems with system tools and intelligent dashboards that empower you to execute and maintain an application performance strategy.
Look for Robust RCA Functionality in Your APM Software Evaluations
Functionality that performs Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a core component of the APM software value proposition. While companies can, and often do, merely treat the symptoms of performance degradation, such as by adding more servers to a pool, those are usually only temporary solutions. To achieve the highest potential performance, they need to identify and fix the real cause – the root cause – of the performance issue or interruption. The long-term problem resolutions provided by an effective RCA methodology make it possible to attain lasting improvement to business application health.
The Problem with RCA
It’s unlikely that your IT staff is jumping up and down about the opportunity to perform RCA. Simply stated, it isn’t easy. Most obviously, RCA is performed after the fact and, ergo, after the IT environment has changed. You must research historical logs just to understand what systems were operating, which were being used, and numerous network-related fundamentals at the time the performance issue arose. Additional research can compare past performance patterns for similar user transactions and business processes to those you identified.
Traditional diagnostic tools only provide the investigative team with their narrow visions of the events occurring as the problem arose. Technicians still had to deduce the root cause from that data. Many problems required their reviews of data logs and trace files from multiple tools. It was a labor-intensive process that, in the end, still might not identify a valid root cause.
The Value of APM
To lower costs, APM software performs those RCA reviews automatically, using technology rather than people, and continuously, so that historical data is always instantly available. Combined with the advances made in application monitoring and diagnostic, the leading APM solutions enable IT staff to quickly locate and identify the root cause of system slowdowns and interruptions.
Here is our take on the 6 key Application Performance Management Software functions to perform deep Root Cause Analysis:
1. End-user Transaction Profiling
In this process, the APM software analyzes the actual application clicks and transactions being performed by the end user when a problem arose looking at each layer (database, application, customization, network, etc.) experiencing performance issues.
2. Back-end Transaction Profiling
This is a similar process in which the APM focuses on application transactions that are not directly linked to end user activity, such as automated business workflows or direct access to a business application by another application or web portal.
3. Application Component Crash Analysis
Initial diagnostics will often identify the crash of an application component as the cause of a system interruption. Performing RCA on an applet crash requires that the APM attain an in-depth understanding of its interactions within the entire application environment.
4. Memory Leak Analysis
Problems arising from excessive consumption of memory or memory leaks can cause a system crash or significant performance degradation and are very difficult to RCA. The APM tool should measure consumption per application process and correlate that information so that the technician can quickly pinpoint the memory leak.
5. Customized Server Monitoring
Corporate server pools constantly scale to meet business needs and require a flexible APM tool for RCA. The solution should continuously monitor the availability and performance of physical and virtual servers against customized SLAs.
6. Synthetic Transaction Root Cause Analysis
This process will consider how the APM tool performs RCA on synthetic transactions used to validate the health of the system. The best solutions will diagnose a problem across all infrastructure layers to clearly identify the root cause and help develop a resolution to the issue.
Application performance management solutions provide quantifiable benefits through better utilization of IT systems and resources. Automating the processes involved in root cause analysis is an important component of any effective APM software solution. Ensure any APM solution you consider delivers comprehensive RCA functionality.