For most IT managers, the challenge is to build and maintain a cloud computing architecture with the most features for the least amount of money. Unfortunately, as with most complex projects within large organizations, implementation is often far more costly and resource-intensive than originally intended.
One of the biggest challenges involves not only designing and implementing your cloud infrastructure but also monitoring its performance to ensure peak performance. But instead of examining these issues in the abstract, let’s use our friend Greg to illustrate not just the problems, but also the solutions facing IT managers today.
Greg is the IT Manager for XYZ Corp, a seasoned IT manager with experience in both established corporate environments as well as startups. His budget is limited, and the demands from the c-suite are intense (sound familiar?), so Greg is continuously looking for ways to use automation to make his job easier.
Greg’s biggest challenge is the inability to find everything his company needs in one package. His current infrastructure relies on a plethora of different services and solutions scattered all over the place. The system is not only inefficient from an administration standpoint but also prone to unexpected performance issues. The software he is using was never designed to work in conjunction with all of his other software, so compatibility problems could lead to significant downtime, which is obviously no good for the company and therefore no good for Greg, who is eyeing a nice end of the year bonus.
To combat these issues, Greg is using synthetic monitoring for his company’s cloud infrastructure. Greg is reasonably content knowing synthetic monitoring is actively testing website performance and gathering valuable performance data. After all, Greg is a busy man who must properly allocate his time to be effective at his job.
But one day, his supervisor corners him in the elevator and asks, “How well does the synthetic monitoring data we collect align with actual user experiences?”
Greg starts to sweat profusely because not only does he have no idea how to answer his supervisor’s question, but because Greg naturally sweats when he gets nervous. It’s been a thing since elementary school. The problem is all the performance data collected through synthetic monitoring is simulated in a controlled environment. No real user data has ever been sampled. As the elevator continues its excruciatingly slow crawl, Greg takes a moment to think about the best way to explain this to his supervisor and still maybe get that bonus.
The “Synthetic” Blind Spots
By separating the differences between Synthetic Monitoring and Real User Monitoring, Greg suddenly begins to see the big picture about the synthetic blind spots created by relying solely on Synthetic Monitoring:
Synthetic Monitoring covers useful tasks including:
- Making sure the websites and servers are online all the time, with alerts to inform you of any unplanned downtime;
- Testing the functionality of user tools such as login pages and shopping carts;
- Checking for missing content, connection, and page errors;
- Ensuring that all API’s are up and running;
- Analyzing the root causes of any issues; and
- Controlling third-party performance.
However, other critical metrics can only be achieved via Real User Monitoring, such as:
- Viewing the geographical distribution of users and their load times;
- Locating the potential impact of slowdowns or errors your users may be experiencing;
- Charting and interpreting long-term trends; and
- Measuring performance from your users’ actual devices, browsers, and operating systems.
It suddenly dawns on Greg that synthetic monitoring and Real User Monitoring actually serve dramatically different purposes. While Synthetic monitoring is geared to assuring maximum uptime and performance in a technical sense, Real-Time Monitoring is more about examining the details of the user experience based on actual data by actual visitors to your website.
Fully aware that his supervisor is waiting for an answer to his question and he doesn’t enjoy waiting, Greg explains that he was actually going to contact his supervisor to set up a meeting about this very issue. Taking the raised eyebrow of his supervisor as an invitation to elaborate, Greg quickly explains the broad strokes of his revelation as though he had just finished an in-depth memo on the topic.
Most businesses assign a higher value to synthetic monitoring because it provides cold hard data while developing a website and then monitoring its performance, which has undeniable benefits.
But Real Time Monitoring allows a company like XYZ Corp. to have virtual “boots on the ground” to observe and collect data about the actual customers who serve as the lifeblood of the company. That data can then be analyzed and used to improve the user experience, which will lead to increased conversions and ultimately, more revenue. We’re talking about the kind of revenue that just might merit a bonus for a hard-working IT manager.
The key takeaway is that Real-Time Monitoring and synthetic monitoring not only work well together, but also dynamically complement each other. If deployed correctly, the result can far exceed the value of each solution on its own.
Understanding the Differences
With Greg’s supervisor not only intently listening but also holding the elevator to hear what Greg has to say, he decided to wrap up his impromptu presentation with a recap of the critical differences between synthetic monitoring and real-time monitoring.
Greg explains the importance of being proactive when it comes to user issues, which requires isolating and fixing them before the user even knows a problem exists. Synthetic Monitoring gives you that opportunity by continuously testing web assets based on likely user scenarios to ensure maximum uptime and performance.
Conversely, Real User Monitoring reports user experiences with extensive concrete details and the specificity you need to recreate and address any unanticipated problems.
Together, Synthetic Monitoring and Real User Monitoring provide a much more complete picture of the performance of your website. Not only will your users enjoy a more seamless user experience, but Greg may finally get that bonus he’s been waiting for all year.
Real User Monitoring, especially when used in conjunction with synthetic monitoring, dramatically enhances the value of your website. Thinking you only need to choose one will leave you vulnerable to vital information you need to keep your organization running at maximum efficiency.
For more information on real-time monitoring and other solutions for your infrastructure technology needs, visit Widgetly* today.
* Name changed for confidentiality purposes