Application performance monitoring (APM) is software designed to help IT administrators ensure that the applications users work meet with performance standards and provide a quality user experience.

Application performance monitoring tools provide administrators with the data they need to quickly discover, isolate and solve problems that can negatively affect an application’s performance. APM tools track an application’s performance over time and help IT professionals understand the effect that different dependencies — the systems that applications rely on to function properly — have on an application’s performance.

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IT professionals can use the performance metrics, which an APM tool can gather from a particular application or multiple applications on the same network, to identify the root cause of a problem. The data APM tools collect includes client CPU utilization, memory demands, data throughput, and bandwidth consumption.

Most APM tools include the ability to combine data from disparate monitoring silos and correlate them through log files, hardware statistics, and network throughput usage reports. The information is often displayed in a dashboard that makes it easier for IT professionals to read data logs, which saves them from having to perform memory-dependent and error-prone manual correlation and analysis.

APM tools gather and quantify data from almost anything that plays a role in an application’s performance. At the foundation, application performance monitoring tools look at the application’s hosting platform, mining information on process utilization, memory demands and disk read/write speeds. They also track processor utilization, which consists of the number of operations per second the CPU server performs.

Another effective use of APM is that IT professionals can create rules such that APM tool alerts them when a problem arises or when an application’s performance dips in a specific area. They can also prioritize applications based on how business-critical they are.