Original post on Monitis Blog.
Web performance monitoring is broken into two camps: passive and active. Passive monitoring is defined as looking at real-world historical performance by monitoring actual log-ins, site hits, clicks, requests for data, and other server transactions.
This is the kind of monitoring that you need for the day to day, which ensures your business website keeps running optimally, and that there is no downtime to impact your customer experience.
Active monitoring is a more experimental approach. It uses algorithms to take current log data and predict future network states. A good example of active monitoring is synthetic transaction monitoring. This involves deploying behavioral scripts in a web browser to simulate the path a real customer (or end-user) takes through a website.
Synthetic transaction monitoring is especially important for eCommerce and other high traffic sites as it allows webmasters to test new applications prior to launch. Synthetic transactions are scripted in advance and then uploaded to the cloud as a transaction tests.
There are different scenarios where your business would need transaction monitoring in order to stay competitive today.
Before introducing a new application to market you want to have line-of-sight on how real users will interact with that app. Synthetic transaction monitoring provides behavioral scripts that have the ability to simulate an action or set of actions to ensure your application can handle the projected load.
Another benefit of synthetic monitoring is that it helps you simulate what happens when you introduce your application to a new geography. It allows you to test and fix potential issues related to deployments in new regions such as connection speeds (DSL, cable broadband, fiber optics) before real end users arrive.
Synthetic monitoring helps you to set up baseline tests in order to measure the way your customers will interact with your websites, APIs, or mobile apps. This type of testing can provide direct feedback on performance degradation or availability issues. It also will help your team locate the root cause, engage the right experts, and fix issues before they impact the end users.
Today’s websites increasingly rely on third-party features such as carts, ads, customer reviews, web analytics, social networking, SEO add-ons, video and much more to provide outstanding customer experiences. If there’s a weak-link in the chain, or one or more of these elements are not working correctly, it can adversely impact your site.
Synthetic transaction monitoring can greatly assist in helping to monitor your third-party applications while also alerting you to potential or real performance degradations and downtime impacts. This helps tremendously in providing line of sight on your service level agreements (SLAs) in order to hold the third-party vendors accountable.
Synthetic monitoring is important at any stage of development, but is especially useful for testing your web, mobile, or cloud-based applications before deploying new features into production. During this stage synthetic monitoring can provide a set of baselines and thresholds that reveal any potential obstacles customers may encounter in the real world.
With synthetic transaction monitoring you can set up benchmark scenarios to see how your applications are performing over time. You can also benchmark your company’s performance against top competitors within a certain historical time frame or within a specific geographical region. This approach can be especially important for establishing your organization’s strategic outlook for the year as well as for preserving competitive advantage in the marketplace.
If you’re in the eCommerce business, then synthetic transaction monitoring is especially useful for ensuring that your eCommerce strategy is firing on all cylinders. By setting up tests with synthetic monitoring you can get apprised, for instance, about when one of the steps in your website’s online transaction process is no longer working properly. By tracking and analyzing every click and swipe, synthetic transaction monitoring solution can help you to identify problems and prioritize fixes in your website to ensure that customers continue to have the kind of experience they’ve come to expect.
Another important use of synthetic transaction monitoring is to assist in the choosing, testing, and optimization of new technologies within your production environment. For example, being able to test if a new CDN (content delivery network) is performing as optimally as possible compared to other known benchmarks will help your organization to decide which product or service will provide the most value to your infrastructure.