What to Look for in a Cloud-Native APM Vendor

Mike Marks November 8, 2018

Cloud-native app development drives greater efficiency and time-to-value so it’s no wonder that enterprises are adopting containers and microservices like a duck takes to water. The larger and more business-critical the environment, the greater the necessity for applications to be both nimble and resilient.

What is cloud-native?

Cloud-native is an approach to building and deploying applications to take maximum advantage of the scale and efficiency of the cloud delivery system. But cloud-native is more about how rather than where. Cloud-native apps are frequently developed by agile DevOps teams, integrating microservices-based architectures (MSA) and continuous delivery concepts, and run in containers dynamically orchestrated by some flavor of Kubernetes on elastic cloud infrastructure.

Microservices allow companies to be more agile in delivering new features faster. Microservices are essentially applications factored into functional microservices architecturecomponents that can each be developed and deployed individually. While there is a greater upfront cost in terms of planning and design, microservices-based architectures ultimately enable speedier development of new features and upgrades of existing ones.

containers vs virtualizationContainers are ideal for deploying microservices. Containers are like virtual machines (VMs) in terms of scalability and portability, but more resource efficient because they decouple the OS from the application and its libraries. With the combined power of containers and microservices, companies can scale individual application functions according to business needs.

DevOps cycleContainers are widely adopted by DevOps teams because they enable reliable and frequent deployment with quick and easy rollbacks and portability. Container images are created at build/release time rather than deployment time, giving app dev independence from ops concerns. Containers (mostly synonymous with Docker) are usually managed and orchestrated by Kubernetes or similar platforms.

But with so many moving parts, there are also now more ways for things to go wrong. Finding the root cause of the problem is no longer about finding the one needle in the haystack but about scouring thousands of haystacks for tens of interrelated “needles” or dependencies. The shared resource dependencies alone are capable of creating much havoc in the form of intermittent issues that are extremely difficult for troubleshooters to pinpoint.

Cloud-native environments have certain characteristics that introduce formidable challenges for traditional application performance monitoring (APM) tools, many of which are simply not up to the task. Aternity APM has unique advantages in the context of these characteristics.

Let’s examine each one in turn.


cloud-native distributed componentsCloud-native applications can have hundreds or even thousands of hyper-distributed components. In these dynamic environments, the same transaction can traverse multiple paths through the infrastructure, even for the same user. To accurately map dependencies, modern APM needs to be able to track each individual transaction flow across all application and microservices tiers—and across the wire—and a single analysis console needs to be able to process and stitch together all of those distributed traces. Aternity APM is able to do this across tens of thousands of components with its big data scale and clustered deployment architecture, whereas other APM vendors only produce aggregate maps based on patchy data.

Aternity delivers unparalleled data quality at any scale, tracing every transaction across every tier—no blind spots!

Dynamic & transient

cloud-native - transient

The cloud-native application environment is extremely variable as containers are scaled up and down and moved around. The resources allocated to the app can change frequently and on extremely short time scales. Coarse performance metrics, rolled up to 1-5 minute intervals, are inadequate for troubleshooting transaction response times, and they can mask or misrepresent the root causes of performance problems. Aternity APM tracks infrastructure utilization and other KPIs at second-by-second intervals to definitively pinpoint issues with container or virtualization resources.

Aternity collects high definition systems metrics to closely track resource allocation in the constantly changing app environment.


multi-stack cloud APM ecosystem

An entire ecosystem of disjoint tools and platforms has sprung up for cloud-native orchestration, monitoring and management, including:

  • Open-source platforms such as Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, and Red Hat OpenShift
  • Cloud platforms and providers, such as Amazon, Google, Azure, and Pivotal, that provide their own container services
  • Numerous log analytics and monitoring tools, such as Splunk and Prometheus

With multiple tools and platforms stacked one on top of another, many of which present as “black boxes” for traditional APM, the container management and orchestration ecosystem is a challenge for visibility. Aternity APM restores this visibility, maintaining technical alliances with cloud platform vendors such as Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Azure, as needed. By integrating log messages into transaction traces, intercepting them directly from memory, Aternity APM additionally reduces the complexity associated with log collection and analysis. And with the increased dependence on network health for communication between cloud-native application components, Aternity APM’s integrated network perspective is similarly invaluable.

Aternity delivers a unified monitoring solution for the cloud-native ecosystem.


Cloud-native application development refactors applications into components that can each be developed, deployed and provisioned individually. It is scalable, portable, resource efficient and agile—but also introduces greater complexity, loss of visibility, and network strain.

With Aternity APM, businesses can:

  • Remove blind spots and barriers to a cloud-first strategy
  • Reduce complexity of the application monitoring ecosystem
  • Align IT efforts with business impact and ensure applications meet performance SLAs

Learn more about APM requirements for cloud-native applications with The Essential Guide to Monitoring Containers and Microservices or experience Aternity APM for yourself in our instant access sandbox.

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