Federal IT pros have tracked application performance for decades. Today’s environments, however, are far more complex than they’ve ever been, particularly with the quick and steady rise of cloud computing, mobile devices, and remote work.
This enhanced complexity demands an improved ability to collect and track application performance metrics to ensure things are operating as expected and needed. But not all federal IT pros have the time or knowledge to keep up with the demand.
The SolarWinds® 2020 Cloud Confessions survey of tech pros echoes this directly. According to the study, 34 percent of respondents believe improving their current ability to track impact across key metrics would lead to more confident management of their IT environments.
The survey goes on to say the following:
- Forty percent of tech pros aren’t immediately aware of what application performance monitoring (APM) solutions are currently offered and face confusion over which APM solutions are best for their needs.
- Nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) report spending less than 10% of their time proactively optimizing their environments rather than resorting to a reactive approach.
The value in more advanced monitoring and metrics collection and analysis is clear. According to the survey, the top three business insights tech pros gain from APM tools include the following:
- The ability to prevent application outages (73 percent)
- The ability to prevent application slowdowns related to performance and/or capacity (63 percent)
- The ability to improve user/customer experience (62 percent)
So how can federal IT pros get there from here?
The answer is both simple and complex: develop an APM plan. Though this may seem like a relatively easy task, it’ll take a good amount of research and understanding of the different types of application-specific measurements available—and the best tools for each—to develop a solid, effective plan.
For example, it’s important to understand the different types of application-specific measurements available, whether they’re application performance metrics coded into the applications themselves, user performance metrics, or indirect metrics. These are all different and should be monitored uniquely.
Our advice? Start with these four steps.
First, inventory all applications and classify them by source (i.e., who built them) and by their criticality to agency operations. Additionally, classify the type of metrics to be collected.
Second, assess which operational insights and technologies are the most important to monitor and why. Be sure to involve the application support teams early on and make sure the APM plan will meet their performance requirements as well.
Third, evaluate and test APM tools. Ensure the correct mix of server-side and client-side tools, and make sure all types of metrics are included.
Fourth and finally, measure your APM ROI through an ROI tracker for monitoring projects around cost, agility, and quality of service.
At the end of the day, APM solutions must be more than a set of reactive troubleshooting tools. They must be able to monitor an agency’s entire infrastructure, from microservices and hypervisors to databases, storage, and every network in between. Agencies should choose application-agnostic monitoring solutions capable of monitoring the performance of any type of application.
These solutions should be affordable—as well as simple to configure, deploy, and manage—so they can be used everywhere. Above all, APM suites must provide the actionable insights federal IT pros demand of their IT operations.