It Takes Two to Tango: Performance Monitoring for Your Applications and Network

Why enterprises need both application and network performance management solutions to ensure superior performance and end-user experience

Green and blue applications running in a dark background

Keeping networks and applications operating at their absolute best is critically important in today’s complex, digitally reliant business world. Achieving that goal requires effective monitoring and in-depth analysis in order to ensure networks and applications are meeting performance standards. 

Although focused on different functionality, application performance monitoring (APM) and network performance monitoring (NPM) solutions are both critically important for monitoring business-impacting services throughout the distributed enterprise and ensuring a superior performance and end-user experience. To see how they benefit an organization, it’s important to understand the differences between these tools.

APM: Monitoring the IT Environment

APM solutions monitor IT environments to determine whether performance standards are being met. APM allows IT professionals to quickly spot problems and pinpoint user-impacting slowdowns or degradations in the business services that impact customers, revenue, and corporate profitability. An effective solution measures the performance of applications such as those for voice, video, and business data, regardless whether they are hosted in private data centers, in the cloud, or on the web, or deployed in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. This approach allows IT to see how different applications impact the performance of others and how well they work together, which is crucial for proper management.

Empowered with insights from an effective APM solution, IT can fix problems before they impact end users—reducing mean time to resolution (MTTR).

To be certain the performance and user experience is exceptional, APM tools monitor and measure performance metrics in real-time, including the following strategic capabilities:

  • Application availability/uptime to validate whether applications such as those for voice, video, and business data are online and complying with service level agreements.
  • Error rates to establish whether performance is being degraded or is outright failing.
  • Request rates to monitor application traffic, focusing specifically on spikes, inactivity, and the numbers of simultaneous users.
  • Response times to uncover whether response speeds are impacting application performance.
  • Number of instances, in the case of cloud-based applications, so the enterprise is aware how many servers or apps are running. 
  • User experience to determine how satisfied the customer is with the performance of the application. 

NPM: Monitoring the Network Infrastructure

NPM is similar to APM, but instead of focusing on applications, it assesses performance metrics of each component of the network infrastructure. NPM ideally conducts real-time monitoring of networked packets from all applications traversing the enterprise network. The focus is on potential performance issues so IT can troubleshoot them and identify the root cause before they become user-impacting bottlenecks or outages.

Because of the complexity of today’s IT infrastructure, which involves numerous components and interdependencies, it is vital to have insights into how these network components perform individually and collectively. Service performance and end-user experience depends on everything working optimally.

NPM tools mitigate performance problems by:

  • Looking for packet loss, conducting network traffic analysis, uncovering network node outages, and measuring bandwidth usage.
  • Analyzing network traffic volumes, available bandwidth, throughput, and network error data to provide a comprehensive view of all layers of the network that can be used both for troubleshooting and for developing effective network management policies that proactively mitigate issues, improve productivity, and enhance the end-user experience.
  • Watching for security threats, including uncovering malware, identifying unsecured network devices and dramatic increases in traffic volumes, and revealing other network vulnerabilities. 
  • Employing closed-loop automation by leveraging intelligence to match various problems with potential recovery steps, which eliminates the need to physically monitor and collect data, analyze it, and then remediate problems—creating tremendous efficiencies and dramatically improving network performance.

The Best of Both Worlds: Taking a Holistic Approach to Monitoring 

Sharing data from both APM and NPM solutions can provide a holistic view for quicker troubleshooting and enhanced visibility. That is why a holistic approach to visibility should be an integral part of a broad-based performance and availability strategy that encompasses not only the edge and private data center but also cloud and SaaS environments.

NETSCOUT has a proven history of helping global organizations protect network service availability and application performance in the world’s most demanding and complex hybrid cloud environments. NETSCOUT’s nGeniusONE performance management platform with InfiniStreamNG and/or vSTREAM appliances monitors and analyzes applications for KPIs related to responsiveness, errors, conversations, and service dependencies, rapidly pinpointing the source of disruptions and slowdowns to keep the business running smoothly. nGeniusONE also monitors incoming traffic for internet circuits and VPN gateways, helping to minimize disruptions and optimize performance.

Learn how to prepare for successful cloud migration with insights from the experts at NETSCOUT.