Updated January 2020

APM Trends in 2020

Evolving beyond website monitoring, Application Performance Monitoring (APM) has extended beyond uptime and performance checks to include visibility into the code level performance of the application. By correlating internal and external performance monitoring data, APM tools are able to show where something went wrong and provide further insights as to why the issue occurred. This has many benefits for modern dev environments, namely reduced overhead, inter-departmental synchronization, and reduced Mean Time to Repair (MTTR).

Here are the top 10 APM tools of 2020:

1. New Relic: Digital Performance Monitoring and Management

New Relic is a powerhouse in the application performance monitoring space. From their inception in 2008, they began as a Rails performance tool, visualizing data layer by layer in the application stack. From there they expanded to target Java, Ruby and JRuby applications, offering on-demand Application Performance Management (APM) in a SaaS based tool. Within a few short months they had thousands of companies utilizing the tool, venture capital funding increased, and the company began to expand.

Dev rollouts included the addition of RUM, App Performance, and Server Monitoring. Soon New Relic boasted tens of thousands of clients, growing the market through awareness campaigns like “A Developer’s Best Friend” and the successful “Nerd Life” marketing campaign. These marketing and brand awareness campaigns were primarily driven by an early 2013 capital raise of $80 million, which brought their valuation to $750 million. New Relic leveraged these funds to launch their software analytics packages for mobile, just as Google began pushing a “mobile first” campaign. The timing worked impeccably, and a year later New Relic raised another $100 million, fueling development growth that lead to the company going public in December 2014 on the NYSE (ticker: NEWR).

Today New Relic has a full suite of application monitoring tools, providing “Real-time analytics and full-stack visibility at cloud scale.” If you’re looking for comprehensive visibility into your entire digital ecosystem, and to couple that with applied analytics driven intelligence, look no further than New Relic.

There are more powerful, robust and enterprise focused APM providers mentioned on this list, however New Relic has the broadest appeal, from webmasters and small business owners to enterprise multi-national corporations, their slick interface and accessible platform delivers to a wide range of needs, garnering them the #1 APM tool ranking for 2020 in this list.

2. AppDynamics: Application Performance Monitoring & Management

Based in San Francisco, AppDynamics provides automated cross-stack intelligence for BI and APM applications. Founded in 2008, AppDynamics has received funding of $206,500,000 across five rounds. The company was acquired by Cisco in 2017 for $3,700,000,000 and is currently operated within Cisco’s IoT and Applications division.

AppDynamics has been named a leader for APM Suites for 6-years running, in the Gartner Magic Quadrant analyst report. In 2016, they were named to the Forbes World’s Best 100 Cloud Companies List, making the cut for the top 10 global cloud firms.

The AppDynamics platform is comprised of 4 product suites, including Application Performance, End User Monitoring, Infrastructure Visibility, and Business Performance. Their Application Performance Management solution delivers some powerful features, including:

  • Application mapping: discover, map and visualize customer journey through your application.
  • Dynamic baselining: utilizes machine learning to baseline performance, then alerts users via integrations with ServiceNow, PagerDuty, Jira and others.
  • Code-level diagnostics: quickly identify root-cause from individual element levels.
  • Application performance: visualize how application performance impacts end-users.

When coupled with the AppDynamics Business Performance Monitoring platform, the APM product truly becomes an application performance management (vs just monitoring) resource for your organization.

Beyond the seamless functionality and enterprise feature sets of their software, AppDynamics’ growth is organic, based on their proprietary APM platform (whereas Dynatrace, below, has seen much of their growth via acquisition of both users and technologies). Not only is organic growth the recipe for success in the tech world, but it is also a sign of company health and forecasted longevity of the brand and their platform.

3. Dynatrace (Compuware APM): Software Intelligence for the Enterprise Cloud

Dynatrace provides intelligence into the performance of an application’s infrastructure, the end-user experience, the functionality of the app itself.

Like AppDynamics, Dynatrace has been consistently named as a leader in the Gartner APM Magic Quadrant. Dynatrace, however, has obtained much of their growth via acquisition of large APM players such as Gomez, Adlex, and Proxima Technology’s Centauri Business Service Manager. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as today’s fast-pasted software world is a ruthless battle for brand space and user market share. Through these acquisitions Dynatrace has been able to leapfrog many of its legacy competitors, beholding technology that would have otherwise taken years to produce.

The APM platform is very user-centric, with actionable insights to optimize each user’s journey through the application. The system moves from APM monitoring to management with visualization of application topology, with AI issue detection, event cause analysis, and code-level diagnostics.

The Dynatrace AI is extremely powerful, and perhaps the most notable feature-set of the APM platform. Dynatrace causation-based AI engine dissects terabytes of data upon error detection, providing detailed insights into application issues with root cause analysis within seconds. The reporting system outlines dependencies, event sequences, and more – determining the true causality of a problem, not just the element detail erroring in the code. This greatly increases the efficiency of dev and IT teams, decreases MTTR, and ultimately maintains a qualify user-experience for the application’s end-users.

4. BMC Software APM

5. CA Application Performance Management

6. Solarwinds Application Performance Monitor

7. Radware

8. Oracle Enterprise Manager

9. Catchpoint

10. Datadog

11. Ruxit

12. Stackify Retrace

13. ManageEngine Applications Manager

14. Dell Foglight

15. JenniferSoft

16. SmartBear (formally Lucierna)

Application Performance Monitoring vs Application Performance Management

Before we explore the top application monitoring tools for 2020, it is important to understand the difference between monitoring and management tools. The two terms were relatively synonymous just years ago, but with the continued evolution of web-based ecosystems and the increasing priority placed on user experience by stakeholders, the terms have now divulged into two unique subsets of the UX and APM marketplace. Below are some key differences between the two branches of APM.

  • Application performance management tends to deal with the higher-level of resource utilization, user-experience, and the entire scope of an application’s ecosystem, while application performance monitoring deals directly with the functionality of an application.
  • One may set up a monitoring script to step through various phases of an application, to determine its availability, performance and functionality. This data may then be aggregated and fed into an Application Performance Management platform, correlated with additional analytics and BI information to garner user-experience insights.
  • An application performance management strategy will look more broadly at the whole user experience, determining root cause of any issues detected by monitoring, and assessing the impact of this issue on the end-user.
  • Application performance management tends to look at the aggregate data, while monitoring will look at a real-time flow of data to determine the application’s active status.

Generally speaking, the case for implementing APM Monitoring vs Management may be determined by your organization’s need to answer the following questions:

Monitoring: Is the application functioning and performing properly? (typically focused on a single application)

Management: How is the end-user interacting with our application(s)? (single application or all applications across our network)

APM Monitoring will provide visibility into application health, as it relates to function and performance data.

APM Management will provide insights into endpoint performance and end-user experience.