12 Best Application Performance Monitoring (APM) Tools

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This post was written by Mercy Kibet, a full-stack developer with a knack for learning and writing about new and intriguing tech stacks.

In today’s fast-paced world, applications are vital for driving businesses forward. However, without proper monitoring and insights into your application’s performance, you can’t identify what causes slow response times, high CPU usage, or database bottlenecks. But with an Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tool, you can gain deep visibility into your application’s performance by tracking critical metrics.

This post will give you an overview of APM tools and how to choose the best ones for your organization.

What is an APM tool?

An APM tool is a software solution that gives you visibility into your application’s performance, including how your application uses resources, response times, traces, and error rates. You can use these insights to identify bottlenecks, troubleshoot, and optimize performance.

What are the best APM tools?

A good APM tool offers comprehensive monitoring, visibility, tracing, alerting, and seamless integration. We’ll explore 12 APM tools and their features so you can find the tool that suits your needs.

1. Splunk

In 2019, Splunk acquired SignalFx, a leading real-time monitoring and observability solution provider. This acquisition brought advanced APM capabilities to Splunk’s portfolio, enabling organizations to monitor the performance and health of their applications, microservices, and infrastructure.

Key features include:

  • Service mapping
  • Distributed tracing
  • Code-level visibility
  • Intelligent analytics

Splunk APM is a powerful and versatile data analytics and monitoring platform that helps organizations make sense of their machine-generated data. It allows users to collect, index, search, and analyze data from various sources in real time.

Setting up and configuring Splunk can be complex, especially for large-scale deployments or integrating with complex IT environments. Additionally, Splunk’s indexing and storage requirements can be resource intensive, particularly for large data organizations.

Splunk gives you a 14-day trial period. Afterward, you get a flexible plan depending on your workload, amount of data, activity, or the number of hosts using Splunk.

2. Datadog

Datadog is a comprehensive monitoring and analytics platform that helps organizations gain visibility into their complex IT environments. It allows users to collect, analyze, and visualize data from various sources, enabling them to monitor the performance and health of their applications, infrastructure, and services.

Here are the key features:

  • End-to-end distributed tracing
  • Automated deployment tracking
  • Synthetic monitoring and real user monitoring
  • Service dependency visualization

Datadog gives you a 14-day trial, and then you can choose between basic and enterprise plans ranging between $31—$40 per month, depending on your needs.

3. New Relic

New Relic initially focused on building an APM solution to monitor web applications in real time. The company developed an agent-based approach in which lightweight software agents are deployed in the application’s runtime environment to collect performance data. Over time, New Relic expanded beyond traditional APM and embraced a full-stack observability approach.

The company introduced additional products and capabilities, including:

  • Infrastructure monitoring
  • Distributed tracing
  • Log management
  • Synthetic monitoring.

This expansion allowed customers to gain comprehensive visibility into their entire technology stack and better understand the relationships and dependencies between different components.

With New Relic, you get a pay-as-you-go pricing model at about $0.30/gigabyte above your free 100 GB data. Find out more about pricing here.

4. Dynatrace

Dynatrace initially focused on developing a solution to monitor and optimize the performance of enterprise Java applications.

One of Dynatrace’s key innovations is its PurePath technology, which provides

  • Deep transaction tracing capabilities
  • end-to-end visibility into application transactions

The PurePath technology allows organizations to understand how requests flow through complex distributed systems and identify bottlenecks or performance issues.

Dynatrace later introduced its Davis AI engine, which leverages automation and intelligent analytics to detect anomalies, pinpoint root causes of performance issues, and provide actionable insights.

You’ll get a 15-day trial with Dynatrace. Explore their rate card for additional pricing.

5. AppDynamics

AppDynamics introduced an innovative application-centric approach to APM. Instead of focusing solely on infrastructure monitoring, AppDynamics prioritized monitoring and managing application performance and its impact on user experiences. This shift allowed organizations to gain granular visibility into the entire application stack, from code-level insights to end-user interactions.

AppDynamics provides organizations with the following:

  • Comprehensive visibility
  • Deep diagnostics
  • Intelligent analytics to optimize application performance

Its history of innovation, customer-centric approach, and integration with Cisco’s networking expertise make AppDynamics a powerful APM tool for businesses striving to deliver high-performing applications and exceptional user experiences.

Besides the free trial, you can get APM with either the premium or enterprise edition shown here.

6. Sentry

Sentry is a widely-used APM tool known for its error monitoring and crash reporting capabilities. These capabilities come from collecting and centralizing error data from all your applications so you can easily see where errors are occurring and what’s causing them. Sentry also provides various tools to help you debug errors, including stack traces, logs, and environment variables.

Key features:

  • Error monitoring
  • Crash reporting
  • Performance monitoring
  • Transaction tracing
  • Release tracking

With Sentry, you can quickly identify and fix errors, thereby increasing the reliability of your application.

Sentry offers different pricing tiers, including a free developer tier.

7. Application Insights

Application Insights is a feature of Azure Monitor with APM capabilities. It allows developers to monitor and optimize performance across various application environments, including mobile, desktop, and serverless applications.

Key features include:

  • Live metrics
  • Distributed tracing
  • Intelligent analytics.
  • Alerting and monitoring
  • Integration with other Azure services

Azure Application Insights offers various pricing tiers based on the volume of data and specific features required. Microsoft provides a free pricing tier with limited data retention and functionality.

8. Paessler PRTG

Paessler PRTG Network Monitor, developed by Paessler AG, is a comprehensive network monitoring and management solution with APM features. PRTG uses sensors, where a sensor is a single item you monitor, such as a server, a network port, or a website. These sensors can periodically send requests to application endpoints, measuring response times and other performance metrics. Users can set up threshold values and alerts to be notified of performance degradation or outages.

Key features:

  • Customizable reporting
  • Distributed monitoring
  • Intelligent network discovery

PRTG pricing is based on the number of sensors you use. It offers a free version that allows you to monitor up to at least 100 sensors.

9. Elastic APM

Elastic APM is by Elastic, the company behind the popular Elasticsearch search and analytics engine. It was first introduced in 2017 as part of the Elastic Stack, an open-source software suite for data ingestion, storage, search, and visualization. Elastic APM leverages the Elastic Stack to collect transaction logs, system metrics, and user behavior data from your applications.

Key features:

  • Distributed tracing
  • Real User Monitoring (RUM)
  • Transaction sampling
  • Logging integration
  • Cross-cluster search

Elastic APM is scalable and can monitor even the most extensive applications.

You can use the free trial provided by Elastic or try the standard option for $95 per month.

10. InfluxDB

InfluxDB is a high performance and scalable time series database that you can use to store, query, and analyze time-stamped data. This makes the database ideal for storing application metrics, events, logs, and sensor data. With proper configuration and integrations, you can use InfluxDB as an APM tool.

It offers features like:

  • Data collection
  • Time series data models
  • Data visualization
  • InfluxQL and Flux query language for complex data transforms and analytics

InfluxDB gives you scalability, performance, and a dedicated focus on time series data.

Apart from the free plan, the other pricing plans include a usage-based plan, an annual plan, and a dedicated plan.

11. SigNoz

SigNoz is an open-source APM tool that helps organizations monitor and analyze the performance of their applications and services. It collects and visualizes various metrics and traces from distributed systems, allowing users to understand the performance characteristics of their applications.

It offers features like:

  • Distributed tracing
  • Advanced filtering
  • Custom aggregation
  • Performance analytics to help diagnose and optimize application performance

Signoz gives you flexibility, as you can set your retention period for metrics, logs, and traces.

Apart from the free trial, the two pricing plans include a teams plan for $199 per month and an enterprise plan.

12. SolarWinds AppOptics

SolarWinds AppOptics provides developers and IT teams powerful monitoring capabilities to gain insights into application performance, troubleshoot issues, and optimize their applications.

Key features:

  • Transaction tracing
  • Live code profiling
  • Exception tracking
  • Root cause summaries

SolarWinds AppOptics seamlessly integrates with other SolarWinds products, giving organizations a unified view of their IT environment. Integration with solutions like Network Performance Monitor (NPM), Server & Application Monitor (SAM), and Log Analyzer enhances cross-domain visibility and enables comprehensive performance monitoring.

AppOptics gives you a 30-day free trial, after which you get a plan starting at $599.

How to choose APM tools

Choosing the right APM tool is crucial for ensuring your applications’ optimal performance and availability. Some factors to consider include ease of use, scalability and performance, pricing, features, and capabilities. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all option, so you can also choose to use more than one APM tool.

Once you’ve chosen an APM tool, you’ll still need a complementary resource such as InfluxDB to enhance your data storage and analysis capabilities. By using InfluxDB in conjunction with APM, you can solve the problem of efficiently storing, querying and visualizing large volumes of time series performance data.

Get started with InfluxDB today and unlock the full potential of your APM data!