APM versus ITOA: The difference

15 May 2019

When it comes to grip and control on IT, management and IT departments experience a major challenge. Complex cloud-based networks with thousands of end-points and end-users make it impossible to monitor all activities and filtering the few important alerts that have predictive value for downtime or premeditated attacks.

There are two types of technologies that address these problems: Application Performance Management (APM) and IT Operations Analytics (ITOA). They often get confused with each other or put together by media and companies, because they have a similar function. The underlying processes however, and the eventual results, are very different. APM versus ITOA: the biggest difference is the level of specificity.

About APM 

What is APM exactly? Webopedia defines it as “tools and processes responsible for monitoring and managing the performance and availability of software applications.” In practice these tools are designed to perceive deteriorations in the performance of applications and services and report these to IT-employees who can undertake action. APM tools are best compared to the warnings on a car dashboard: when the board computer detects a problem with one of the systems in the car, this information is sent to the driver. Does the oil need refreshing? Then a small red dot lights up. Are the tires getting flat? Then there often is an (audio)visual warning. Engine overheating? The car automatically stops.

That is the main goal of APM: continuously scanning deviating norms and almost real-time reporting of specific incidents in existing processes. The end-user experience is combined with performance metrics to ensure issues are being solved. The problem however, is that taking quick action to tackle performance issues is not enough for most companies. They are looking for something to prevent actual incidents.

Introduction in ITOA

The best example for ITOA is that all systems within a car are continuously and simultaneously researched, so predictions can be made concerning the future behavior, on a short and long term and everything in between. Network World says ‘the big deal’ of ITOA is that the whole IT chain can be displayed at once, incidents and crisis situations can be prevented before they cause any impact, and time to resolution can be shortened.

What it comes down to, is that ITOA collects large amounts of data that is used to discover patterns in the IT traffic within the IT chain. Using the car-example once more: the board computer measures your driving behavior, the fuel consumption, the road surface and everything that is under the hood. That way it is constantly visible what is going on and what is probably going to happen in the systems. Instead of giving a warning when the tires are flat, you will have been informed already on the fact that they are going to be flat, based on your driving history and a small hole that is detected in the last couple of days. Instead of phoning a mechanic, ITOA gives you the possibility to solve problems before they impacting the systems.  

APM versus ITOA or a combination?

Both APM and ITOA play an important role in empowering IT departments. According to Gartner, ITOA-solutions are best used in addition to existing APM tools, instead of replacing them. APM primarily has a proactive value, ITOA has preventive value and all these insights help to guard business operations. Nexthink, the ITOA-solution nominated by Gartner, delivers the whole spectrum of end-user data to provide insight in any component in any IT chain, enabling you to take better decisions concerning the direction, speed and maintenance of your ‘IT vehicle’. 

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