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A new breed of synthetic monitoring for a new era of cloud

(Image credit: Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock)

When it comes to user experience, the stakes are high for today’s businesses. Consumers have come to expect fast loading web pages, instant app interactions and smooth transactions. For those that don’t get it right and meet these expectations, they risk impacting a potential customer’s willingness to purchase a product or service. In fact, a recent survey found that 70 per cent of consumers said that web page performance impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer. Breaking this down further, 22 per cent said they would close a tab altogether and 15 per cent would visit a competitor’s site.

For companies of all sizes, whether you’re a Netflix of the world of a small business, turning to a competitor means revenue loss. And with 88 per cent of consumers less likely to return a website or app after a bad experience, it can have long lasting effects on brand revenue and reputation.

For this reason, it’s easy to see why the need for visibility into how business applications are performing has become important for businesses operating in the digital space. 98 per cent of organisations say that a single hour of downtime could cost them over £80,000. To reduce the impact of potential outages, many organisations have turned to performance monitoring tools, which have unsurprisingly grown in popularity over the last decade. One example is synthetic monitoring.

A complex cloud-centric ecosystem

Synthetic monitoring is not exactly a new concept. It refers to simulating user interactions with an application or website to see how it performs from a user’s point of view. Imagine you’re a developer building a new function of a website and you’re not sure on the specific paths or actions a user will take to use your new feature.

With synthetic monitoring you can simulate this to get information on uptime, performance or the most common navigation paths - all before the feature is live. When the function becomes live, synthetic monitoring can then continue to be used to alert teams of outages or performance issues. As more and more businesses turn to new cloud and digital-first services that they haven’t necessarily built on or used before, synthetic monitoring continues to be a popular choice for application, ITOps and monitoring teams to proactively monitor application performance.

This all sounds great in practice, however, synthetic monitoring has seen little to no change in the past decade. The issue here is that the enterprise environment that these tools monitor has undergone a complete transformation. Thanks to cloud and the Internet, the digital delivery supply chain has evolved from single browsers and applications into a complex web of interconnected services. Businesses are heavily relying on SaaS, interacting with multiple third-party services through APIs across multiple clouds and engaging customers across IoT, mobile and even virtual assistants.

This means conventional synthetic monitoring tools, with their app-only focus, are playing catch up to a constantly evolving digital delivery supply chain. If IT teams rely solely on an app-centric view this leaves them without a full understanding of their application and website performance as well other network and third-party components should there be a performance issue.

IT ecosystem transformation shows no signs of slowing down, with applications becoming increasingly API-heavy and Internet-dependent. Current synthetic monitoring becoming obsolete and, as a result, a performance monitoring gap has opened up. Businesses are increasingly struggling to address application and infrastructure performance issues.

A new breed of synthetic monitoring is needed to keep pace with the digital transformation and the implementation of new services and technologies.

Out with the old, in with the new synthetic monitoring

This next generation of synthetic monitoring must provide a comprehensive view of all components within an organisation’s IT infrastructure. This involves combining information from end-to-end applications, website performance, business transactions and network paths, whilst correlating underlying cloud infrastructure, as well as Internet behaviour.

Consolidating all of this information together into a singular view gives businesses an unparalleled level of visibility which can be used instantly to identify SaaS, CDN, IaaS, ISP, cloud or browser-based issues quickly. This immediacy means more time can be spent resolving an issue and reducing its impact.

Another key advantage is that it gives businesses the ability to test user interactions across different points in the journey and from relevant locations. This is especially important as it can identify any bottlenecks which can then be used to develop performance enhancing strategies.

Pre-deployed public cloud monitoring agent locations around the world provides layered visibility from vantage points that are representative of your customers while monitoring everything from transactions down to Internet routing. Whether launching a new application or website, synthetic monitoring can be fundamental to ensuring high performance and validating new code rollouts.

The synthetic monitoring market is expected to grow by 17 per cent to reach $770 million in the next three years. As the enterprise ecosystem becomes more cloud-centric and Internet-dependent, this new type of synthetic monitoring should be part and parcel of business’ infrastructure. Organisations serious about eliminating the performance monitoring gap and providing the best user experience will no doubt see the benefits.

Archana Kesavan, Director of Product Marketing, ThousandEyes