What to Expect in Application Performance Management for 2018

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With the end of the year upon us, industry experts are looking back at trends and forecasting what’s to come for the next one. The application performance management (APM) space continues to grow exponentially, set to become a $5 billion industry by 2019 according to some reports. APM tools provide administrators with the data they need to quickly discover, isolate and solve problems that negatively impact an application’s performance.

More specifically, APM helps enhance end user experience by using metrics-based monitoring or code profiling and transaction tracing to measure and increase application productivity. Basic functions are automated and user behavior is analyzed in any number of ways. There are many vendors in the global APM market, with industry giants Cisco, IBM, HP and Microsoft among them.

Due to our industry evolving at such a rapid pace, users dependent on APM solutions can’t find a one-size-fits-all approach. There is, of course, a serious necessity for effective performance monitoring. Whether it’s a hybrid approach or one that’s more traditional, APM should be tailored to the unique needs of your organization.

We work with companies to maximize the potential of their APM approaches, so I’ve had the opportunity to speak with plenty of IT experts about their organizations’ needs and where they see things heading. Here are a few points on the current state of the application performance management industry and where I think it is headed in the future.

In 2018, we can expect:

  • The continued heightened adoption of machine learning, data science principles and big data techniques that will improve pattern discovery, anomaly detection and root cause analysis. Enterprises have been quick to adopt these techniques after realizing their potential to reveal granular details from large piles of data. Because of this, artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps)/IT operations analytics (ITOA) will play a larger role.
  • Application dependency mapping (ADM) to continue improving, adding visibility into how external/federated application resources are being consumed, highlighting the impact on the application. ADM creates relationships between interdependent applications and shows how different applications are accessed, how they communicate with each other and how they are performing.
  • Improved visualizations and “data blending” techniques, providing better context to application monitoring. Data blending is the process of combining data from multiple sources into a functioning dataset. Visualization tools are improving across the board, for many different IT purposes. Productivity increases when you can drill down into data, adjust times to contextualize cycles of activity—really understand what your users are doing in an easily interpreted presentation.
  • User experience (UX) monitoring becoming more prevalent, as organizations seek to better understand and highlight the last mile. Just last year a Forrester Research study found that a well-designed user interface could raise a website’s conversion rate by up to 200 percent, and a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400 percent. Fully understanding how users interact with your application is paramount when looking to truly connect with them.
  • Increased adoption of crowdsourcing techniques which will yield improved insights into common application problems, ultimately resulting in a better end product for users. GE recently turned to crowdsourcing to remedy a problem its engineers faced regarding data compression and massive files created during a machine parts project. GE used its crowdsourcing platform Fuse to ask the public for a solution to their problem. In weeks 40 viable entries were processed with three prizewinners identified. By leveraging the power of the crowd organizations can expedite what used to be long, involved processes.
  • A stronger focus on monitoring/managing microservice architectures (“container introspection”) and IoT as the market continues to grow in that direction. Microservices as an architectural framework is really picking up steam. Using a very simplified explanation, “microservices” refers to a deconstructed system of smaller, modular services comprising what used to be a massive mountain of code.

Of course, none of these predictions should be set in stone, but we’ve got a good feeling that this is where things are headed. With so many organizations turning to cloud and SaaS applications to run integral aspects of their operations, all indicators say that the application performance management market will continue to grow significantly. 2018 will be a good year for APM.

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Director of IT Operations Analytics at Trace3