One of the more important metrics for any business website is its loading speed. Regardless of whether the website itself is customer-facing or business-facing, the time that it takes to load pages and display them to the user will have an impact on how effective it is at fulfilling its role.
In the past the loading speeds of business websites were often measured in real time. While that could provide data on whether a website was underperforming, it was flawed in many ways as it could only pinpoint performance issues when they took place, and could not identify the root cause (or causes). Today however businesses have better tools at their disposal – and Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tools have changed the game completely.
Using APM to Avoid Slow Downs
As its name implies, APM tools will track and monitor the performance of applications from the standpoint of the end user through a variety of methods. Over time there have been several different types of APM – but the one constant is that they aim to measure performance and understand why performance is affected as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Additionally by load testing APM tools are able to identify potential bottlenecks and issues before they affect the end user. Some are even able to go so far as to predict usage patterns, spikes in traffic, and can prepare for events before they take place.
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In short, APM can ensure a business website loads fast by tracking its overall usage to understand how and why spikes in traffic take place while at the same time identifying slow loading times and tracking them to their root causes. Depending on the nature of the website and the applications that it runs the APM tools that will be required will vary – but the end goal is to provide a complete picture that lets developers prepare and deal with issues.
Types of APM Tools for Business Websites
As APM tools have grown in popularity, the range of features and capabilities that they provide have become more and more varied as well. Generally there are two types of APM tools that can help business websites:
APM tools for coding and testing
Essentially these are tools that developers can use while writing and testing code for their website or apps that are connected to it. With these tools and their ability to trace transactions it is easy to spot any bugs or bottlenecks and identify the root cause behind them immediately.
When you’re choosing an APM tool to develop code for a business website it is important to consider the features they bring to the table. Also some may require changes to the code or configuration to implement them, while others are less intrusive in that regard.
Some of the more popular APM tools for writing and testing code include Glimpse, Miniprofiler, XRebel, Stackify Prefix, Zend Z-Ray, New Relic developer mode, Rack Trace, and Scout Devtrace. If some of those names sound familiar, it’s because many are extensions or versions of other popular APM tools – but with a focus on code as opposed to server performance monitoring.
Production server APM tools
The other variant of APM tools that can help business websites are the more conventional variety that run on production servers and monitor the website and apps directly. Needless to say these are just as varied in terms of features, programming language support, and whether they are deployed on premise or utilize SaaS. The price point of these tools can also vary greatly.
Another important factor to consider with these APM tools is how the derived information is presented. Some tools tend to be more developer-focused, while others are optimized to produce graphs and infographics that are more easily understood by people in operations or even executive roles.
While the number of APM tools is continually expanding, there are some that have distinguished themselves over the years. New Relic APM is definitely one of the industry leaders, but others such as Dynatrace, AppDynamics, Traceview, and Scout are all notable too.
It is worth noting that most of these APM tools are focused on providing APM solutions for large enterprises (and have a price point to match). On the other end of the spectrum however there are tools such as Stackify Retrace that are more affordable and developer-focused in comparison.
As the demand for APM solutions that are able to minimize and eliminate website performance issues grows, it is likely that the types of tools available will continue expand as well as evolve. For any business looking to avoid slowdowns and ensure performance levels, it is important to start thinking about integrating APM tools sooner rather than later – as the benefits are becoming clearer on a daily basis.