Top 8 Application Monitoring Tools for 2023
Data-driven decision-making has been the story for the majority of 21st century. Companies have been using data to create better features and products. To accomplish that, you'll need software that tracks your application's data and information. That's where Application Monitoring tools come in.
In this article, we review the top Application Monitoring tools that your business can use. We'll check when you can use them, share our top tips for tool selection, and discuss the benefits of using an APM for your business.
What is Application Monitoring
Application Performance Monitoring (APM) is monitoring and managing a software application's performance and user experience. The APM looks to maintain an expected service standard by quantifying the application's current events. To do this, application monitoring collects information on relevant metrics such as resource usage, downtime, throughput, and error rates.
An APM could monitor four categories of metrics: application metrics, code-level performance, cloud metrics, and network performance. Some tools can track a combination of two or more metric types.
Additionally, a robust application monitoring tool should be able:
- Track the performance of web requests
- Monitor usage and implementation of all dependencies and backend services
- Detail program transactions
- Record server metrics and application framework metrics
- Oversee user monitoring
- Track availability of cloud providers and cost spending
APM is about quantifying events and understanding the reasoning behind transactions, successes, and failures.
Here are some tips for selecting your project's top application monitoring tools. Keep these criteria in mind as you read on:
Database and Dashboard
Analyzing raw data is a difficult task that's susceptible to human error. You don't want to have to parse access logs to see what type of requests your users are pulling.
You want your APM to be able to relay vital information as quickly as possible. In effect, you want your chosen APM tool to have extensive reporting and data visualization tools. You'd wish to your application data to be complete and easy to understand
That said, there's a tradeoff between complexity and readability. Not all tables are helpful, in the same way, that not all data points are useful. A dashboard filled to the brim with different tables and graphs may seem more useful, but it could also confuse your overall business strategy with irrelevant facts.
We had earlier mentioned how there exist three categories of metrics that an APM could track. You'd want to follow as many relevant data points as possible to optimize your application. The keyword is a "relevant."
Relevancy is a characteristic best decided by the project leads and development team - but your ideal monitoring tool should be able to track all data points you deem relevant. You'd want to have full-stack monitoring, which incorporates synthetic and real-user monitoring of all layers of app resources, including infrastructure and cloud.
More specifically, you'd want your APM to be capable of:
- Tracking usage and performances of app dependencies, including database storage, web services, and caching
- Recording web requests and user transactions
- Analyzing and monitoring all aspects of web development and app functionality
Valuable operational data is ideally tracked and analyzed in real-time. Modern dev and IT teams are looking for ways to automate processes through machine learning and AI - with one focus on the world of data monitoring and management.
Because microservices and open source components are standard tools of today's app, modern applications are a jumble of existing applications built on top of one another. It has become difficult to assemble and analyze data given the hundreds of thousands of sources from which it could stem.
Incorporating AI into an APM would mean employing systems that provide end-to-end visibility and tracking for all your system's components. On top of this, AI and machine learning models could analyze and visualize extensive data collection. AI incorporation should help the business gain deeper, more valuable insights from collected data in half the time.
An application monitoring tool should save the business time and money in the long run. An APM should be able to provide automated monitoring and notifications, reducing the need to hire a dedicated team member. It should identify resource-deficient areas of an application, performance bottlenecks, and struggling components. These aspects save the business money, increase its bottom line, and improve customer satisfaction and retention.
These factors are all considered when calculating the actual cost of a tool. Where others may directly correlate cost with the product's price, an APM's true cost includes accounting for its benefits and features.
Not everything helpful has to be complex. Ease of use should be a criterion to account for. You would want something easy to install, configure and use. Customizable dashboards and clear visualizations are needed to break down analytics and data on the fly.
On top of that, an APM should be able to integrate well with existing components. Your logging system, servers, and database are core functions that your APM should work well with. Otherwise, what would they be working on?
Double-check the monitoring tool's documentation to see if it can integrate with your components.
Security should be any project's priority, especially if the project deals with large amounts of essential business data. You should ensure that the APM tool you're using has robust security features that improve the confidentiality and availability of your application data.
A good APM tool should have the following features:
- Data Encryption
- Industry Standard Compliance
- Role-Based Access Control and User Authentication
- Audit Trails
The average data breach cost has risen to $4.35 million in 2022. With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated daily, security and incident prevention remain a top priority for all users.
Best Application Performance Monitoring Tools for Your Business
We gathered the top 8 APM tools on the market with different specializations, features and pricing plans. Let's explore them!
Traceview is an application monitoring tool for web-based applications, though it can also be used for mobile applications. Traceview prioritizes user experiences and builds useful data maps and visualizations for quicker performance checking.
Companies like European Environment Agency and FieldLens use TraceView as a real user monitoring system.
Traceviews feature set includes:
- Language Support for .NET, Java, PHP, Python, Ruby, Node.JS, and GO.
- Advanced Visualization
- Distributed Transaction Tracing
- Error Reporting
- Machine-Level Metric Collection and Charting
Traceview costs start at $79 per month with an extra $19 per GB of storage per month.
Dotcom-Monitor is one of the oldest APM tools on the internet. It tracks performance by mimicking a user's journey through recorded scripts that can be rerun to ensure that the content and application layer meets the ideal performance metrics.
Dotcom-Monitor's most prolific users are Dell, Comcast, and Dish.
Its features include:
- SSO Authentication For Users
- Flexible Invoicing
- Customized Reports
- Account History Auditing
- DNS Resolution and Blacklists
- Web and API Performance
- IP-Connection Monitoring
- Third-party Integration
While Dotcom-Monitor may offer a free trial version, its paid version begins at $19.95 monthly and scales depending on the company's needs.
Datadog's goal is to modernize app monitoring and performance tracking. Its focus is primarily shifted toward cloud monitoring and security. This tool focuses on monitoring key analytics and components and is heavily favored by IT and DevOps teams to continue tracking the cloud and infrastructure.
Here are some of the critical features of DataDog
- Host and Container Maps
- Ready-Made, Customizable Dashboards
- Alerts Notifications using Slack, HipChat, and Campfire
- Automated Insights
- Forecast Monitoring
- AWS Fargate
- IoT Device Monitoring
- Cloud Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
- Cloud Workload Security
- Serverless Support
If you're interested in using DataDog, the company offers a 14-day trial for all its packages and a free version with 1-day metric retention for up to 5 hosts. Its paid version starts at $15 per host every month.
Raygun is a SaaS server-side APM that takes a customer-centric approach to performance monitoring. It makes their application accessible, easy to use, and compatible with over 600+ frameworks and services - supporting popular frameworks like .NET, Ruby, Node.js, and Azure Web Apps. The APM's lightweight SDKs mean that it could integrate with your web application in minutes.
Here are some of the critical features of Raygun:
- Crash Reporting
- Real User Monitoring
- 30-day data retention
- Unlimited custom dashboards
- Deployment Tracking
- Core Web Vitals Reports
- Integration in minutes
Raygun's on-demand pricing goes for as low as $8 per month. Its enterprise-level option offers standard features, a dedicated team account, and massive data volume discounts. As your business grows, Raygun can scale alongside you in a pay-as-you-use model.
AppDynamics is a Cisco-owned APM built for large enterprises. Because it was developed for use in the production environment, AppDynamics was constructed to use several machine learning techniques such as anomaly detection, regression, and many more to detect patterns and trends from your application requests.
Companies that use AppDynamics in their tech stacks include Intuit, Okta, The Motley Fool, and World Remit.
AppDynamic's key features include the following:
- Code-level visibility for resource management
- Request Tracing
- ML Predictions and Forecasting
- Enterprise-grade security
Because of the scale and level of their product offerings, AppDynamics justifies one of the highest prices on this list: starting at $230 per server per month.
Microsoft entered the APM industry with Application Insights, their platform/extension for Azure Monitor. In their words, APM tools proactively understand how an application is performing and reactively review application execution data to find causality. Its target audience is software developers working in both enterprises and small businesses.
Application Insights' core features include:
- Live metrics
- Usage Tracking
- Smart Detection
- Distributed Tracing
- Cross-Platform Integration with Windows, Android, and iOS
Like many other applications on this list, Application Insights also entails a pay-as-you-go model, with the prices starting at $0.615 per GB for Basic Logs and $2.76 per GB for Analytics Logs.
Retrace was founded in 2012 with a focus on building a well-rounded application performance monitoring tool for companies of all sizes. Over 1000 different organizations use the platforms, with a customer list that spans everything from small businesses to Xerox, Microsoft, and Honeywell.
Designed specifically for developers, Retrace looks to optimize in-app QA performance and "retrace" production problems through code-level transaction traces.
Its features include:
- Language support for .NET, PHP, Node.js, Ruby, and Java
- Deployment Tracing
- Tracks Code Level Performance
- Seamless Integration with Common Application Frameworks, including Azure, AWS, MongoDB, SQL, etc.)
- Integrated errors and log management
Stackify Retrace is likely one of the most affordable options on this list, with costs starting at $25-$50 per month per server and $10 per month for non-production.
New Relic has taken the concept of having a SaaS-based APM to new heights and, by many standards, is one of the industry leaders in application performance management. It's especially useful for mobile applications and advanced performance monitoring for the browser.
It comes with a bundle of flexible features that include:
- Customizable dashboards
- AI-driven notifications
- Robut end-user monitoring
- Performance Analytics
- Multiple Data Types and counts
- Cloud-service instrumentation
- Tracks Code-level performance
New Relic's prices vary based on the edition you use and the level of access an enterprise will request for their services. Full platform users, for example, start at $99 per month per user, with 100GB of free data ingested per month and then $0.30 for every GB beyond.
Bonus: You might also want to check out the best project management tools for software development if you want to optimize your operations.
Benefits of Using Web Application Monitoring Tools for Business
An APM tool drives countless benefits to your business. As businesses become more reliant on web-based applications, it becomes vital to ensure that everything is running smoothly and efficiently.
Apart from being able to monitor an application's performance and collecting data from various sources, here are some of the benefits of web application performance monitoring tools:
- Meeting User Expectations - It's easier to meet user expectations when you're constantly monitoring performance issues and bottlenecks. You could allocate more resources to features with high user requests and gain valuable customer feedback that improves customer satisfaction.
- Reduced Downtime - Downtime is a costly occurrence for application-based businesses. When users can't access your product, the business loses revenue, customer satisfaction, and loyalty. Web APMs are typically equipped with messaging capabilities, notifying business teams about any significant problems, such as software updates, hardware failures, or network outages. Visualization tools could also be used to identify potential issues that lead to breakdowns or failures.
- Optimize Productivity - For web applications in office use, monitoring these applications helps ensure that web-based applications are constantly working and that the employees can continuously access and use the platform, saving time and increasing the business' overall productivity
- Boosting Profits - When businesses meet user expectations and improve their application's availability, profits are boosted. When a company optimizes employee productivity and builds more robust infrastructures to support daily operations, profits are increased. When companies make better decisions through sought-after, invaluable data, profits are increased. These examples show that when businesses use APMs and use them well, profitability and long-term success follows.
Tips to Maximize your APM
If you've already chosen an APM for your web application, here are some tips you could do to maximize the use of your new tool:
Avoiding Vanity Metrics
Vanity metrics exist to look good on paper but only provide a little in the way of return on investment. Now, this isn't to say that vanity metrics are useless - they could be great in a different context.
A number of concurrent users, for example, would do well to track the success of your application - but not as a standalone metric. The number of simultaneous users will vary depending on the day of the week, time of day, and your application's use cases. It's easy to manipulate the number of concurrent users to pick a data point where your app is the busiest. Instead, it would help if you looked to extrapolate your data set over a long period of time and use metrics like average request rates or Apdex to track the success of your application.
To that end, ensure that you define the key metrics you want to analyze. Identify the core components of your business and find the metrics that define just that.
Establishing baselines means creating a standard against which to compare existing data points. After defining your key metrics, determine the sample size of data points to calculate the average. This is a simple way to establish a baseline. However, it is vulnerable to misleading factors like outliers and seasonality.
If you have enough data to measure years against one another, you could use a method called time series forecasting to create a baseline of knowledge based on historical data. Seasonality, trends, and unexpected events are better accounted for in this model than in calculating a simple mean. Use this data to improve your Web APM's performance or see if you need to make additional adjustments before scaling.
Maximize on Automation
As previously mentioned, many APMs are capable of automating routine tasks like sending alerts or creating weekly dashboards. Web APM tools can also be integrated with other IT operations tools to quickly remedy application issues. If a Web APM tool, for example, has detected that a particular feature of the server is running low on resources, an automated script could trigger an event that allocates more resources. That said, prevention is better than cure, and tools like BlazeMeter are often used to simulate real traffic and measure performance metrics to ensure that the web application does what it is supposed to.
The best Application Monitoring Tool for use depends on your project's requirements. Price, ease of use, technologies supported, and cloud compatibility, however, are all factors that play an essential role in choosing your APM.
An APM needs to point out how or where the issue is. To fix these issues, you'll likely need professionals skilled at improving and building web applications for all use cases.
Looking to build the next great app? Contact us at Techmagic today!
What are application monitoring tools?
Application monitoring tools are utility software used to monitor and analyze data from an application's performance, code, and network connection. They are capable of creating complex dashboards, automating notifications, and integrating well with your application's tech stack.
What should I look for while comparing monitoring tools?
Choosing an APM is a matter of knowing your app's requirements. Our selection criteria when comparing monitoring tools involves the comparison of the following features: database and dashboards, full-stack monitoring, AI Incorporation, Cost, Ease of Use, and Security.
What is the most popular application monitoring tool, and is it worth the hype?
Datadog is the most popular application monitoring tool for the majority of use cases. However, AppDynamics is better for large enterprises, given its enterprise-grade security. AppDynamics is easy to set up and provides real-time monitoring of extensive information on your application's metrics while supporting many of the major platforms.