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Unreliable software is heresy in the eyes of modern-day users. That’s why many organizations rely on application performance monitoring (APM) to prevent and remedy outages, lags, and crashes.

You’ve likely been there before—one of your applications experiences a sudden drop in performance, and you’re tasked with the grueling process of manually troubleshooting your complex software. Finding a solution can feel like half piecing together heated customer complaints and half dumb luck.

For software engineers, SREs, and DevOps professionals, a robust APM platform is critical. Providing real-time data about your application performance and end-user satisfaction, the right APM platform empowers teams to overcome issues before the customer even notices something is wrong. APM helps with everything from detecting anomalies to troubleshooting application speed.

In this article, we’ll share our top tips for getting started with New Relic APM—which is included in our Full-Stack Observability offering—including:

  • Standardizing application names
  • Adding labels to applications
  • Creating alert policies
  • Configuring key transactions
  • Leveraging powerful reporting capabilities

Tip 1: Standardize application names

In most cases, New Relic APM agents will attach a default name to your application—something like “My Application.” To avoid having 15 applications with the same name, be sure to set up and stick to a naming convention. Here’s some advice:

  • Standardize your application naming for consistency across the platform.
  • Add labels that accurately describe key features of groups of applications (for example, apps in staging have "staging" included in their name).
  • Enable automatic naming to cut down on manual tasks and reduce the risk of typos.

Tip 2: Add labels to applications

Locating a specific application from your overview dashboard can be challenging, especially if you are operating several applications over multiple environments (e.g., development, test, pre-production, production).

Adding organizational labels to your applications allows you to quickly and easily find the app in question. The two most common labels used include:

  • Application name
  • Application environment

New Relic APM allows account owners and admins to label apps so that they “roll up” into a countless number of meaningful categories. You can also sort and filter through all of the applications on your account’s Applications list.

Tip 3: Create alert policies

The majority of your application performance monitoring alerts are going to be based on the Apdex score (a measure of user satisfaction with the response time of your application).

Apdex T is the most crucial element, so you want to make sure you set it to a value that makes sense for your application. For true performance optimization, we suggest setting your Apdex T to 0.95 seconds.

After you have set up your alerting, you’ll want to take advantage of the various notification channels available. After all, alerts are no good if no one knows about them. You can configure your alerts by creating user groups and taking advantage of New Relic’s various integrated alert channels.

Pro tip: Be sure to check in and evaluate your alert policies on a regular basis to ensure they are valid.

Tip 4: Identify key transactions

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to APM. Depending on the scope and nature of your application, some transactions will be more meaningful than others.

We created a key transactions feature to help you track and trace what matters most to your business. This enables you to keep a close eye on your app’s business-critical transactions, whether that be response times or error rates.

Tip 5: Leverage powerful reporting capabilities

New Relic’s APM capability provides a range of various downloadable reports that draw attention to historical trends. SLA, deployment, host usage, and other reports make excellent starting points when reporting to senior executive teams and customers.

The right application performance monitoring software doesn’t just give you visibility into a single portion of your application stack. Instead, it shows you the big picture. And with New Relic’s Full-Stack Observability you not only get visibility and context across applications, but also across logs, infrastructure, serverless functions, mobile, browser, and more.

Get started with a free account

Sign up for a free Full-Stack Observability account today and get access to APM and our full suite of capabilities.