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APM & DPI: A Window to Customer Experience

Application performance management—also known as application performance monitoring—was once a relatively under-utilized tool, all but unknown outside of IT operations. All that has changed. According to Gartner Research[1], APM will monitor at least 20% of all business applications by 2021. That is an increase of more than 400% since 2018.

APM is a relatively broad umbrella. Anything related to gathering more information and understanding about how applications, dependencies, transaction times, and even the basic performance of the code driving the applications being monitored falls under the APM heading. That said, as the technology matures and grows and some standard interoperability has emerged, APM has largely been a diverse collection of tools used to measure application performance across varied computing platforms.

More, Better Information

APM solutions are being utilized by enterprises in unprecedented numbers, and with widespread adoption comes changes in how these tools are being used. The information tracked by these applications is undergoing an evolutionary shift in scope and scale. With so much emphasis being placed on providing positive user experience, APM tools are more critical to enterprise success than ever before.

APM solutions give companies an invaluable view of the customer experience, from the customer’s perspective. APM tools can show what works and what doesn’t. They can also provide data that can be used to map out a path forward in understanding how to provide end users with the kind of interactions and engagement they’re looking for.

APM allows enterprises to align technology implementation to better attain their objectives in a way that goes beyond measuring things like CPU utilization and storage integration. It provides a fuller, more robust and accurate picture of what the customer is experiencing.

DPI: Providing Better Insights

APM has its limitations. It relies on analytics to illuminate the end-to-end performance of an enterprise application, measuring collected data against performance, security, and quality of experience benchmarks. Traditionally, APM solutions have relied on Simple Network Management Protocol (or SNMP) and relatively simple flow-based traffic analysis to determine where problems might exist. In some regards, this can be a blunt instrument, providing abstract information that could hint at problems, but not in a focused or in-depth way. This is where deep packet inspection comes into play.

Deep Packet Inspection, or DPI, enables the monitoring of network and specific application traffic at a packet level, providing service-type insights (for instance, for voice and video communications, chat applications, and other services) that include response time metrics between client and server. These allow enterprise administrators to delineate where potential problems exist and find out whether the issues are network-based or exist on an application level.

DPI empowers an organization with an unparalleled ability to understand the function of their application architecture. This ability has become even more critical in an age of cloud-based, distributed computing, where performance or security issues might present themselves in a variety of trouble spots, from end-user devices to the hardware infrastructure of the various network nodes being utilized in a given transaction or exchange.

Traditional efforts to enhance user experience have largely centered around networking optimization, and data collected with APM tools have traditionally presented metrics applicable to little else. It was only part of the picture. With deep packet inspection integration, APM with DPI now provides the ability to understand every facet—every moment—of an application’s performance from a customer-centric point of view.

APM With DPI: The Full Picture

APM solutions empowered with integrated DPI functionality provide enterprises the ability to understand application performance in a holistic, end-to-end manner with real-time analytics on such variables as network links and internal connectivity, as well as external connectivity and performance bottleneck caused by user devices. Without the benefit of packet-level intelligence, diagnosing performance issues will be slow and uncertain—the metrics collected by APM alone do not provide the data necessary for a full understanding of the complex interchange between network and application components. Many problems may take much longer to diagnose and may be undetectable without the detailed, granular information presented by deep packet inspection.

Empowered by packet-level analytics made possible by DPI solutions, a more complete, complex, and robust understanding is possible. APM and network performance management (or NPM) is greatly enhanced with the inclusion of DPI capabilities. DPI allows users to isolate performance bottlenecks across applications and access points. For instance, it can help a user identify a device behind a NAT-enabled access point that is causing bottlenecks due to active peer-to-peer applications, which can then be administered appropriately.

Learn How DPI Can Benefit You

DPI integration with traditional APM efforts provides concrete, actionable information about the performance of every aspect of an enterprise’s delivery system. Gaining a precise understanding of the complex interplay of elements responsible for the successful application of a customer-facing solution requires more than just the broad strokes provided by traditional APM.

DPI paints those details with a finer brush and can provide your organization with the tools it needs to fully optimize the customer experience in an ever more complex computational landscape. To learn more about how DPI-enabled APM can enhance your enterprise’s efforts, including the embedding of DPI software into your enterprise’s solutions, read the white paper[2] recently published by ipoque, a Rohde & Schwarz company, international industry leaders in analytics software.

With better data, more focused and high-quality insights, and the ability to understand the application, device, and network performance as a cohesive whole, your organization will be able to optimize your customer experience in ways never before possible.

[1] “Broaden Application Performance Monitoring to Support Digital Business Transformation,” Gartner Research

[2] “DPI for Application Performance Monitoring,” ipoque, Rohde & Schwarz

This article was created in collaboration with the sponsoring company and our sales and marketing team. The editorial team does not contribute.