IT environments have become more dynamic and complex, which has created the need for robust monitoring tools. As a result, companies are increasingly adopting more than one platform, catapulting us into the multi-cloud era. Technology professionals are also embracing and acknowledging the need for comprehensive, full-stack application monitoring and management, bringing application performance management (APM) into the mainstream.
The recent SolarWinds survey Cloud Confessions 2020 reveals even though APM has become mainstream (with a majority of tech pros using APM tools regularly), there’s still work to be done to move beyond troubleshooting. This finding is consistent with last year’s study, in which nearly half of the respondents said troubleshooting was a top-three task they managed daily.
Tech pros have an opportunity to fully leverage the benefits of APM across the entire application stack, not just for troubleshooting. They should enable tech pros at any stage in their APM journey to realize the value and richness of end-to-end optimization with APM.
In 2020, implementing solutions to achieve integrated application performance and availability management for any type of organization will become increasingly important.
The Cloud Confessions survey showcases how application owners, developers and support teams currently use APM tools. It also shows areas where tech pros feel they need more education and support to confidently utilize APM solutions.
Cloud Confessions Key Findings
This survey explores how extensively technology professionals are using APM tools, whether on-premises or for SaaS-based application management and how they monitor these environments. It also showcases areas where tech pros feel confident in their APM tools and strategies, as well as challenges and avenues for building confidence.
The key findings show:
1. Tech pros are using APM tools, employing a nearly even mix of SaaS and on-premises to support the three architectures most often found in modern environments. Despite this, confusion around which tools are ideal for specific IT environments is consistent across application owners, developers and support team roles.
- Nearly nine in 10 tech professionals are using APM tools in their environments.
- 59% are using APM for monolithic (traditional on-prem) app development architectures.
- 40% are using APM for N-tier service-oriented architectures.
- 39% are using APM for microservices.
- The top three most commonly deployed tools in support of APM strategies are:
- Database monitoring (64%).
- Application monitoring (63%).
- Infrastructure monitoring (61%).
- Two-fifths of tech pros face challenges due to lack of awareness of what APM solutions are currently offered and confusion over which currently offered APM solutions are best for their needs (respectively).
2. Overall, tech pros are confident in their ability to manage and monitor applications on-prem, in hybrid environments and in the cloud; this confidence mostly sits within their ability to troubleshoot.
- Over eight in 10 (84%) respondents are confident in their ability to successfully manage application and infrastructure performance.
- Two-fifths (40%) of tech pros surveyed are most confident troubleshooting application issues and monitoring application availability and performance (respectively) given their existing skillset, followed by one-third (32%) of tech pros confident in collaborating with team members.
- Troubleshooting and monitoring as the top two areas where tech pros have the most confidence is consistent with last year’s findings—in 2019, troubleshooting app issues was the number one activity tech pros spent their time on, with 48% of respondents choosing this as a top three task.
3. The largest challenges tech pros face when monitoring and managing application and infrastructure performance relate to an existing knowledge and skills gap. As a result, tech pros have continued to deal with the troubles of troubleshooting, despite nearly all using some type of APM tool in the last 12 months.
- When ranking the challenges, tech pros said:
- Lack of training for personnel was the top challenge (57%), followed by lack of awareness of what APM solutions are currently offered (44%) and confusion over which currently-offered APM solutions are best for our needs (42%).
- All other challenges were at, or under, the 30% rate.
- Nearly eight in 10 (78%) tech pros report spending less than 10% of their time proactively optimizing their environments (vs. reactively maintaining).
- In 2019, 77% of respondents reported spending the same amount of time on proactive optimization.
4. Tech pros value the business insights delivered from APM tools, but greater skills development is needed in establishing KPIs and communicating IT performance to the business.
- The top three business insights tech pros gain from APM tools include:
- Ability to prevent applications outages (73%).
- Ability to prevent app slowdown related to performance and/or capacity (63%).
- Ability to improve user/customer experience (62%).
- Tech pros are collecting these business metrics, but there’s a need to bridge the gap between business metrics collected and tech pros’ confidence in their ability to communicate performance to the business.
- 34% of tech pros feel they need to improve their current skillset/ability to track impact across key business metrics to more confidently manage their organization’s IT environment, followed by 30% of tech pros who feel they need to improve their current skillset/ability to troubleshoot application issues, improve the performance of application code (29%) and manage/ensure/improve end-user performance (29%) (respectively).
The key findings uncover the importance of knowing which combination of APM elements are right for your environment. Today’s environments are highly complex and distributed, involving microservices, N-tier, monolithic and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications. This means the potential benefits of APM are even greater in modern contexts, as long as tech pros take time to educate themselves on the right tools for their environments.
While APM tool usage is widespread, it’s not nearly as effective as it could be—an important distinction to business leaders in charge of digital transformation efforts. When we understand the APM world beyond troubleshooting, the possibilities for application performance optimization open up across the stack and across previously siloed teams.
APM, when used to its potential, can be the great unifier of tech pro teams all working toward the goal of having highly available, well-performing applications and it can change the way modern businesses operate in the age of performance.