Application performance management tools in AWS

Application performance management tools can assist in ensuring your organization is using and getting everything possible from AWS.

It's all about performance, end-user experience, and not getting lost in the cloud -- especially your own. Amazon Web Services is a robust and complex service system. With any system that allows a business to build a Web service system, there comes a certain amount of complexity. If your organization has the resource depth to handle operating the full extent of the AWS, then you'll likely have what you need, minus the automatic monitoring...

and metrics. However, if an organization needs to monitor performance and provide metrics for review, it will need a management service solution tool. The purpose of an application performance management tool is to make your implementation of AWS cleaner and more efficient. It also provides a means of monitoring system resources to ensure the organization gets what it's paying for.

Navigating the breadth of the AWS service offerings without experienced help can be confusing. Application performance management tools assist in ensuring your organization is using and getting everything possible from AWS. After all, managing the organization's application performance is central to ensuring your customers have a positive end-user experience.

In this article, I'll discuss a few of the available tools and their basic offerings.

Reviewing APM monitoring tools in AWS

CloudWatch: CloudWatch is an internal AWS tool that provides monitoring and report metrics accessible through the AWS Management Console. Basic monitoring is included and enabled automatically for all Amazon EC2 users. CloudWatch collects the data generated by applications running on AWS resources and may be configured to immediately send and store the metrics the organization selects. It's important for any tool to allow flexibility and control for the business user in order for the organization to get the information needed out in a readable and understandable format. CloudWatch's metrics for application performance consist of standard measures, as well as fully customizable measures relative to data, statistics, graphs and alarms. Users can submit custom metrics based on the needs of their application, and CloudWatch monitors them. The tool provides a dashboard viewer for reviewing the applications performance and other usage metrics in one place.

Compuware: Compuware's APM user experience management and PureStack® Technology products combine to provide users with in-depth monitoring of application performance. The system integrates with AWS CloudWatch to identify and monitor response times in a customizable format. The tools assist in locating and resolving problems with application response times.

The benefit of accurately knowing how the performance of an application measures in the AWS cloud is essential to determining if an organization needs to expand resources and if other AWS services are impacting the application. The tool can make an organization aware of which user response times are exceeding the norm and by exactly how much. It's essential information to know so you can detect errors or performance issues quickly, before they cause a negative customer experience.

Compuware's APM tool deploys into your existing AWS cloud structure using either bring your own license (BYOL) or through the elastic model (pay for usage).

New Relic: New Relic offers its APM tool through AWS Elastic Beanstalk. The New Relic tool handles application performance or application health monitoring for critical business applications. It also allows monitoring, troubleshooting and the ability to tune badly performing applications on the AWS Elastic Beanstalk. An advantage of the Elastic Beanstalk is it leverages AWS' EC2, Simple Storage Service, Simple Notification Service (SNS), elastic load balancing and auto-scaling to provide a cost-effective and scalable infrastructure system. Additionally, an organization's development team retains control over the AWS resources used by their application. Developers can access any service resources at any time.

CA Technologies: The enterprise player in the AWS support tool vendor game is CA Technologies' Application Performance Management (CA APM) product. Like others, it manages AWS services and monitors application performance running on those services. The largest impact of CA Technologies adding support for AWS-based services is that their existing customer base can now move to cloud-based systems without changing the APM system they are familiar with. CA Technologies system offers full lifecycle management of AWS services and includes test workflows and automated self-service delivery. It also allows users to monitor delivery of code and data to the cloud. Customers can now more confidently switch to the cloud and manage application performance.

The tool that works best for an organization is determined by several factors, including the existing size and expected growth of the applications already in existence in the cloud, and the design plans for new applications. Another factor in determining which tool to use is the experience of the development team. What depth of understanding and experience with AWS does the team currently have? If they're new to AWS, what are the areas they lack knowledge in? Finally, any tool must be configurable to meet the needs of the particular organization's system and the measures that organization needs to monitor or review. Make the most of AWS and include a measurement tool to ensure the organization gets what it needs, and what it pays for, when using AWS.

This was first published in July 2014

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