Tips on Selecting the Most Effective Alert Thresholds

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One of the most common features Web application monitoring solutions promote is their ability to alert administrator’s of specific errors and issues. This form of monitoring is known as alert thresholds, and for many application managers, it’s the lifeblood of their entire operation. Because modern Web applications are continuously growing in complexity and purpose, the need for dynamic and highly-advanced monitoring techniques is also ever-growing. In an attempt to rectify this need and provide the level of monitoring that’s essential for most modern enterprises, the most well-equipped monitoring solutions offer customizable alert thresholds.

While this is an imperative feature to look for in a monitoring solution, if you don’t properly utilize its functions, you won’t achieve the level of monitoring your application requires. Of course, every monitoring solution is different in terms of how the alert thresholds are designed and customized; however, there are several universal tips applicable to all monitoring tools regardless of size and function.

Tip #1 – Be Specific With Metric Alerts

Typically, a monitoring solution features specific pre-set alert thresholds for a specific list of metrics. While this is a great start, it is unlikely a great fit for your unique Web applications. Therefore, it’s imperative that you create a specific list of system and application metrics in which thresholds should be set. For example, set the performance thresholds for CPU performance, Disk Usage Space, Network Health, Web Server Health and Database Transactions.

Tip #2 – Setting Threshold Values Based Upon Historical Trends

While this may not be applicable for new Web applications that do not have a history of use and performance, those who are implementing a complete web application monitoring system on established applications must reference the baseline performance and operation of the aforementioned (and other) application metrics. As a general rule of thumb, the threshold value for specific metrics must be based upon the established performance baseline for your unique infrastructure. Don’t be afraid of implementing recommended values for specific metrics – this is especially important for those who are setting up threshold monitoring on new application deployments.

Tip #3 – Utilize Synthetic Monitoring to Establish Updated Thresholds

As your Web applications grow and become more complex, the use of synthetic monitoring is imperative to the establishment of new baselines. While you may have historical data for previously released application versions, newer versions may feature different performance trends and different utilization rates. Until the new version is used by a significant amount of users, exact threshold values are unknown – this is where synthetic monitoring comes into play. With synthetic monitoring, the monitoring tool interacts with the application as a “real user,” which provides basic-level performance and operation data. Utilize this data to establish first-run baselines.

Web Application Monitoring Essentials – System Metrics

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When it comes to monitoring the diverse and complex environments found within modern Web applications, there are several metrics that must be monitored. This monitoring ensures full functionality within the code and user-interface levels of an application infrastructure. Even though the specific metrics you decide to monitor is dependent on application function and architecture, choosing to monitor select system metrics ensures stability within enterprise hardware components. The following system metrics should be continuously monitored to reduce application errors and subpar performance.

Disk Usage Rates

When it comes to the various issues and reasons why an application under-performs, one of the most common hardware causes is a lack of available disk space. Did you know most of the speed attributed to a Web application is based upon the functionality of the disk? It’s true! And if you want to keep tabs on this, you’d want to have some type of web applications monitoring in place. As a general rule of thumb, the faster a hard disk is able to handle data, the faster your application will perform. However, it’s the amount of available disk space that supports the overall performance of your hard disk. The more crowded a disk, the slower it performs. Not only does high disk usage destroy the performance of an application, but it can also create security vulnerabilities due to various, fragmented blocks of data being sent to multiple areas within the drivers.

CPU Function

If you were to think about your hardware components as a human, the CPU would be its brain. CPU, an acronym for Central Processing Unit, oversees the operation of all programs. Through a series of complex logical and arithmetical operations, the functionality of an entire network is based upon the performance of its CPU. Factors such as application usage determine the overall functionality of this component. Therefore, it’s essential to monitor the health and events within a CPU. With proper monitoring, CPU resource allocation can be adjusted to accommodate peak usage periods.

Physical Memory Usage

Also referred to as RAM, or Random Access Memory, this component acts as a temporary storage space. This is where frequently accessed data is stored, which enhances the speed and performance of programs as they’re loaded from this point before being accessed by the system CPU. As a general rule of thumb, the greater your physical memory space, the faster your entire network will perform. Therefore, the majority of development experts suggests adding as much physical memory space as possible by your system. This reduces the occurrence known as a swap space, which is when stored files are switched to another resource as the physical memory usage becomes full. This action typically results in severe performance issues, some of which may be critical if it occurs during high-usage moments.

Does Your Company Need Application Performance Management Solutions?

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Whether you have a start-up venture or an established, and successful, corporation you’re bound to come across a scenario where a specific question is asked: Should I integrate an APM solution into my network? While businesses who wish to cut costs and reduce expenditures may find the investment of an APM tool isn’t worth it, the truth of the matter is the longer you go without an effective APM solution, the closer you come to losing business and client trust due to a faulty application. Of course, some businesses have a much higher demand for APM solutions due to their application-heavy network (either wired or mobile). However, even if your company utilizes only one application, the availability and reliability of this application may directly determine the overall success of your business.

As the use of critical web-based applications become more and more common among all industries, so does the requirement for APM tools. In fact, the reliability and availability of applications may disrupt SLA guarantees. Therefore, regardless of business size and scope of practice, APM solutions ensure user experiences go uninterrupted and guarantees established by your web hosts SLA policies are upheld.

Effectiveness of Application Performance Management

In the most general sense, application performance management allows IT managers to easily, and effectively, monitor performances of all applications without having to manually dig for information. Integrated solutions allow performance issues to be near-instantaneously identified and corrected by continually monitoring events and transactions at all levels.

While there are many reasons as to why your business should adopt an effective application performance management solution, the following are universal advantages across all business disciplines:

  • Meet User Demands – Application performance management tools are unique as they allow IT managers and business owners the opportunity to identify and study IP network traffic to determine application visibility. Identifying such information is crucial for businesses to the meet the demands of users by ensuring its operation matches the level of need from each user.
  • Identifying Traffic Flow Issues – As most IT professionals will tell you, pinpointing the exact location of an error or issue is among the most time-consuming aspects of diagnosing a malfunctioning application. This is especially true if an enterprise utilizes multi-levels applications for a wide array of purposes. Application performance management solutions simplify this process by continually monitoring application performance at every level. It’s through this automatic monitoring issues and errors are able to be instantly identified and located. This allows IT managers the ability to fix the issue without having to wade through mounds of data, which results in faster fixes and happier customers.
  • Insights into Application Utilization – Understanding how your application is being used, and to what level it’s being used, is an essential component in developing high-quality web and mobile apps. APM solutions provide detailed, and accurate, reports that reveal event patterns and trends regarding application usage. It’s with this information IT managers are able to adjust and expand applications as needed, which helps prevent backlogs and stalls due to an “unexpected” rise in traffic. The predictive capabilities of APM solutions are bound to save you and your business hundreds of hours in research and data collection.

Mobile Application Performance Management – Common Perspectives

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When comparing wired application performance management with mobile APM, you’ll notice several similarities, primarily: bandwidth constrictions, latency, congestion, application chattiness and network quality. While mobile APM perspectives lend themselves to wired methodologies, there are several elements that are unique in the realm of application performance management.

Mobile access is increasingly becoming the “go-to” method for accessing the internet and communicating with businesses. As the demand for mobile application access grows, so does the demands of businesses and IT departments. The mobile application industry is a diverse sector, which features significant variations between device specifications and the relationship individual applications have with a particular device. Since revenue and visitor loyalty is directly connected to user experience, effectively monitoring mobile application performance is paramount to the success of your business.

Mobile applications are vastly different in many ways from their wired counterparts. Traditionally, web applications are hosted on static servers, and all its transactions and patterns are executed within the server, not within the users’ browser. In the realm of mobile applications, the opposite is true. The device browser isn’t simply launching the application, it’s literally running the code. Therefore, to ensure continual performance and functionality, it’s essential to gain visibility into how well the application is performing.

This is where mobile application performance management comes into play. Although the current market features a wide array of toolkits and mobile APM solutions, the most effective at mobile application monitoring are those that provide detailed insights into the actual operations and visibility of each application. While there are many elements you must consider before adopting a mobile APM solution, there are four key capabilities you should look for when reviewing mobile APM tools:

  • Application Snapshot View – Monitoring the performance of an application from moment-to-moment is the only way to truly ensure its performance and availability. Therefore, only choose an APM interface that features contextual and graphic insights into the performance of each application.
  • Scripting – Running live applications directly on mobile devices is far more intricate and complex than with wired applications. Therefore, an APM solution must provide highly detailed insights into the performance of each application at the code, or script, level.
  • Detailed Application Insights – Being able to view the application details on the network level is an essential component to determine errors, make corrections, monitor connections between the app and users as well as review the impact of the app’s performance in regards to the user experience.
  • Timeline Reports – One of the most effective ways to monitor a mobile application is by reviewing timeline reports. Being able to monitor each event process through contextual and visual reports allow you to adjust settings and perform detailed tests, which work to maintain 100% application uptime.

 

Resources:
www.everystep-automation.com
http://blogs.technet.com/b/momteam/archive/2012/05/31/using-the-web-application-availability-monitoring-to-monitor-web-applications-health.aspx