Application Performance Monitoring: Options for Everyone

In this final post of a series about Application Performance Monitoring (APM), we dive into what APM options are available and what kind of APM solution suits your budget.

Posts in this series:

  1. Application Performance Monitoring: A Performance Metrics Refresher
  2. Application Performance Monitoring: What and Why?
  3. Application Performance Monitoring: Options for Everyone

How to choose an APM solution

So what are some of the key considerations when looking at the possibilities for APM?

  • Programming language support
  • Cloud support (Azure, AWS, Heroku, etc)
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vs On-premise
  • Pricing
  • Ease of use

When I started researching this topic, I was floored by what seems like an immeasurable variety of APM vendors, tools, and solutions. It turns out according to Wikipedia,

Since the first half of 2013, APM entered a period of intense competition of technology and strategy with a multiplicity of vendors and viewpoints. This has caused an upheaval in the marketplace with vendors from unrelated backgrounds…. As a result, the term APM has become diluted. It has evolved into a concept for managing application performance across many diverse computing platforms, rather than a single market.”

The interesting thing about going down the rabbit hole of comparing APM vendors is the dizzying spectrum of options in terms of complexity and hence pricing. One article I came across listed a hundred APM products and services. And everyday I was researching APMs, I would run into new ones that I hadn’t heard of before.

Here’s a fraction of vendors providing APM solutions on the enterprise level (note: this list is filtered to those companies that provide solutions for PHP applications):

  • New Relic
  • Amazon CloudWatch
  • AppDynamics
  • Dynatrace
  • TraceView (AppNeta)
  • Smartbear
  • JenniferSoft
  • CA Technologies
  • Datadog
  • Zend Server


Historically APM pricing has been prohibitive for those with smaller budgets, and the top APM vendors are still extremely expensive which leads us to the million dollar question, does APM have to be so costly?

Well, the good thing about innovation and competition is that there is purportedly a pretty wide range of pricing for an equally wide range of options. And it turns out there are tons of open source APM options too. Here’s a short list of some futuristic-sounding projects that provide a full or partial toolset for integrating APM into an application.

Open source APM solutions (in no particular order):

As the industry has matured, it’s no surprise that there are more and more affordable APM options coming onto the market. Mid-to-low-range SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solutions are continually popping up that appear to be fairly sophisticated and moderately priced.

The upside to such intense competition is that nearly every APM vendor I found online offers a free trial version to test drive which might be the best approach to narrowing down your options to a few choice contenders. Whatever your circumstance may be, you have to do the research to find the right solution for you.

Does your site need APM?

Although the basic premise of this series of posts is the relevance, importance, and promise of APM, maybe we need to take a step back to ask a more elemental question - do you really need APM for your site?

Our recommendation is that you should consider and implement APM if:

  • Your company develops custom IT application solutions from scratch.
  • You have lots of systems that interact with other custom IT solutions.
  • Your IT custom application is a major revenue generator or critical part of the business process.
  • Your application is out of regular vendor support and you rely on internal IT teams to support it.

In other words, if you run a lot of custom code, then you probably need APM.

If none of these use cases apply to you, then perhaps you don’t need a fully automated, sophisticated APM system. If your site isn’t a complicated application wired together with a lot of custom code, you might just be able to get away with some basic free online tools (or free versions of proprietary tools) that will take your domain as a parameter, and spit back statistics and insights about your site. In this case, you might be well-served by using Google Analytics to alert you about slow page speeds.

Website & Page Load Speed Tests & Tools

Here’s a short list of website and page load speed tests and tools that provide a pretty decent service for assessing sites:

And this wraps up our series on Application Performance Monitoring. We love powering our clients’ sites to perform at optimal levels. With the help of APM, we solve their most challenging problems and tune their applications so they hum.

Reach out and let us know what's your favorite APM solution @ChromaticHQ.