Ultimate Checklist for Web Application Success

Deploying a new Web application is a complex and dynamic process involving a combination of testing and planning. While each application features unique challenges regarding its deployment, the following checklist is designed to provide you with a general guide toward true and sustained application success.

Collaborations Between Network Departments

Perhaps one of the most notable mistakes any application development team can make is not establishing clear communication and collaboration between other departments. Its important to remember that an application is merely an extension of the rest of a network. Therefore, in order for the entire “machine” to run smoothly, every component must work flawlessly with all connecting physical and virtual components. Therefore, strive to retain clear and constant communication throughout the development and deployment phase.

Automate As Much As Possible

The biggest mistakes made within the deployment and development of Web applications come from human error. Therefore, one of the most important steps in cultivating a successful application is automating as much as possible. By turning to various scripts to execute simple tasks, you eliminate the possibility of human error. Thanks to the evolution of automation software and script development, executing automation tasks is easy, even for the most novice of administrators.

Keep Post-Deployment Change to a Minimum

As with many elements within a website enterprise, once an application has been deployed, keep changes made to its infrastructure or communication methods at a minimal. Without proper communication and preparation, even the smallest of changes can prove disastrous for the performance and stability of an application. If a change is needed to correct an error, work with the development team to implement a correction that does not disrupt the communication of other application components.

Establish Synthetic Transaction Checks

In order to see if the communication between an application and its various components is as it should be, developers must implement synthetic transaction tests. These tests “interact” with an application just as a user will. By using automation software and instructing each step, synthetic transaction tests ensure each level of your application operates as it should. This is imperative for any application, regardless of size and purpose, after deployment. Many times, synthetic transaction tests catch critical errors before they have time to influence experiences had by users. There is a wide range of programs that you can use to automate this process, such as a free program like Every-Step Automation, or even a paid suite of tools.

Server Utilization Monitoring

While your application may be communicating as it should, if its server utilization is too high, the overall performance of the application (and ultimately the website) will suffer. This level of application monitoring ensures that all necessary servers are online and capable of handling current and projected traffic. Make sure to establish agents to monitor: virtual memory usage, network usage, disk usage and CPU utilization rate. Through these monitoring reports youre given a clear insight into the operation and performance of your application.

The Value of Monitoring Web Application Server Database Health

Within the digital universe, there are few elements used as much as Web applications. The use of applications can be found from the smallest personal blog to the largest corporate portal. Because of the demands and importance of Web applications, the need for effective application monitoring has never been greater. While there are literally hundreds of various monitoring techniques and metrics, two of the most important of these revolves around how the application communicates and interacts with users.

The server and database of Web applications ultimately determines the end user experience. When a user activates and engages with an application, the requests set from the end-user browser are known as transactions. These transactions must communicate with the application server and database in order to execute specific tasks and collect essential information. In face, the health of a databse directly determines the efficiency and performance of an application.

In many instances, when an application features specific errors, such as a select group of users unable to access their accounts, there is a serious issue within the database level of the application. Therefore, in order to sustain a solid and high-performing experience for all users, the entire database and server must be continuously monitored. While this may not be a new topic for you, how exactly do you effectively use web application monitoring to keep track of server and database health?

There are many different ways you can effectively monitor these two components within your application infrastructure. The ideal monitoring method utilized by your organization is depends on unique factors; however, there are several universaldatabase metrics you should strive to monitor. These include:

  • Average Database Queries – The number of queries sent to your database is an essential piece of informaiton to determine whether your current resources are ample for demand as well as determining traffic baselines.
  • Number of Active Connections – In an attempt to sustain a secure and stable environment, you must be aware of the number of active connections from an application into its database. In some instances, the number of active connections can help identify malicious attacks or spam attemps.
  • Quantity of Threads – As a user engages with the application and begins accessing different levels within its infrastructure, the application opens threads with its database. The number of threads can directly influence the speed and stability of an application. Therefore, its importan to continuously monitor the number of threads opened between a specific application in order to ensure end-users experience the highest quality interaction.
  • Uptime Calculations – Of course, most application monitoring solutions are capable of determining whether or not the entire application is up-and-running; however, its imperative that you assign a monitoring agent specifically to the uptime of database and servers. While your Web server may be available, the application database may be experiencing an error that makes it go offline.

The Future of Application Monitoring Management

Application management and monitoring was traditionally begun as a means of streamlining the managerial aspects of operating dynamic applications. Through its ability to monitor the entire infrastructure and various internal components found in most Web applications, these tools simplified the complex process of managing and monitoring application integrity and performance. However, as the application industry continues to evolve and become more advanced, the need for fluid and scalable application monitoring tools is greater than ever before.

Application Complexity and Involvement

As the need for enhanced customer interaction and complex business processes increases, the complexity of Web applications will simultaneously progress. While this is an exciting proposition in terms of business-to-customer interaction and faster critical business processes, the rise in application infrastructure requires new and equally advanced application monitoring capabilities.

Therefore, one of the largest evolutions within the application management and monitoring industry is the methods in which monitoring software will track and manage application processes. Perhaps one of the largest developments within this industry is the location of what are considered critical application components. Many experts suggest the use of virtual hosting and cloud computing will increase the scope of application infrastructure in terms of where components are located. While this allows modern applications to perform dynamic processes, it adds strain on traditional monitoring and management software.

In order to match this demand, many application monitoring solutions would be required to send monitoring and management “agents” across an entire application network, which would span both physical and virtual components. By expanding its reach across multiple platforms, monitoring solutions are capable of gathering data from a wide variety of sources and hosting this information in a single, user-friendly, dashboard. With this setup, application developers and system administrators are able to monitor and manage the dynamic options and processes modern applications now require.

However, one of the the biggest issues plaguing the modern application industry is a reluctance on behalf of IT developers and system administrators to upgrade their application monitoring and management software. While the cost associated with purchasing and implementing an application monitoring solution can be expensive, the risks of running a tool incapable of keeping track of modern applications are far greater. Remember, as your application use and type evolve, so should your monitoring and managing solution.

5 Steps to Take After a Web Application Alert is Sent

So youve taken the time to research the ideal Web application monitoring solution, and youre finally ready to take charge over the operation and performance of your critical business applications. While you may think the hard work is over, the true work doesnt begin until the monitoring solution goes live. However, before you fully deploy your monitoring solution there is one final step – determining what should happen after an error alert is triggered. For many enterprises, this is among the most difficult steps as you must ensure not only the proper persons are notified, but also the alert provides ample information designed to enhance the speed of which an error is corrected.

Step One – Establishing Effective Monitoring Agents

The most effective way to get the most out of your monitoring alerts is selecting the best metrics to monitor within your application infrastructure. Because many Web applications are unique in terms of infrastructure and use. Because of this, the type of metrics you must monitor can dramatically vary. This being noted, there are several metrics you must always monitor. These include both physical and virtual components. For example, the health of physical components, such as CPU, Memory, Disk Usage and virtual components, such as transactions between requesting browsers and responding databases.

Step Two – Server Health Information

When an error alert is triggered, its important to determine the health of your Web and database servers. There are many instances when an error regarding specific components are directly influenced by the health of your servers. While your monitoring solution may monitor your servers, make sure the alert notifications also come with current server statistics. This helps determine whether or not your servers are the true culprit of your malfunctioning application metrics.

Step Three – Run Synthetic Scripts to Isolate Error

The use of synthetic testing is invaluable for many reasons; however, in terms of correcting an error after an alert notification is sent is among its most powerful uses. By executing specific synthetic testing scripts, youre able to identify specific errors within the application, which may help identify the root cause of specific errors.

Step Four – Patch the Error for Immediate Fixes

As an error is caught, the most effective way to provide immediate correction is by implementing a patch. This may be in the form of a Windows patch or a Linux update. While patches may not be an effective permanent fix, they can provide corrections that are necessary to keep an application up-and-running. Remember, if you decide to use a patch, you must immediately begin working on a long-term fix.

Step Five – Review Reports for Long-Term Health & Re-Run the General Processes Again

Regardless of the monitoring solution, it should provide you with in-depth reports. These reports are essential for determining the overall effects an error has on the performance and stability of your applications. Now, you must take the error reports and utilize them to help safeguard your application from similar errors. Now that you know what went wrong, you should make sure that you re-run any monitoring programs. There are a number of programs that you can schedule to do this for you. EveryStep is one example  (you can read more about their web application monitoring program here). You an also use Selenium and a number of other programs.