How Does Synthetic Fit Into Your Monitoring Strategy?

June 23 2015

Are you using a synthetic monitoring tool? Why not? Read More.

If you have a real-user monitoring program in place — our AppDynamics Browser Real-User Monitoring or Mobile Real-User Monitoring solutions, for example — do you really need synthetic monitoring? After all, real-user tells you just what kind of experience your users are having, and that’s what you really want to know, right? Yes, but as with most things, it’s not quite that simple.

You definitely want all the benefits real-user monitoring brings you, like understanding UX around the globe, gaining valuable insights into your users and their habits, and of course, having real-time, end-to-end visibility to quickly identify and resolve trouble spots. (If you’re not already familiar with our real-user monitoring solutions, you’ll find more information here.)

But there are also distinct benefits that our new Browser Synthetic Monitoring solution brings that make it an essential component of a comprehensive monitoring program. First, it reports on availability and performance even when your site has no active visitors — so if there are issues, they can be fixed before they impact users. Second, unlike RUM, it notifies you when your site or application is unavailable; RUM reports nothing when your site/app is unavailable (since there’s no real-user interaction to report), or when a custom fail message is displayed. Third, synthetic lets you confirm functionality of critical transactions to ensure that users are able to be successful and business objectives will be met.

Introducing Browser Synthetic Monitoring

AppDynamics’ new Browser Synthetic Monitoring is now available in beta, joining Browser Real-User Monitoring and Mobile Real-User Monitoring to form our comprehensive End-User Monitoring solution. It is a distributed, cloud-based, intelligent monitoring solution for programmatically determining website availability, functionality, and performance.
Built with the highly regarded, open source WebPageTest technology, Browser Synthetic Monitoring enables enterprises to proactively monitor and optimize websites and web applications from more than two dozen locations around the globe, using real web browsers driven by the W3C standard WebDriver. Some of the significant advantages it offers include:

  • Flexible Scheduling. Because it is based in the cloud, capacity is fluid and not subject to infrastructure restrictions, so scheduling is completely flexible — a synthetic monitoring job can be built with the dates, times, and scale that align with budget and strategy.
  • Real, Not Simulated, Browsers. You’ll be measuring performance with Chrome, Firefox, and/or Internet Explorer — the real things, not simulations — so you’ll see how your site/app performs the same way your users do.
  • Automatic Baselining. Like all of AppDynamics’ monitoring solutions, Browser Synthetic Monitoring automatically and dynamically establishes baseline performance thresholds — especially useful for SLA management.
  • Automatic Retesting. If the site fails, Browser Synthetic Monitoring can automatically re-test to confirm the issue and reduce false positive notifications.
  • Worldwide Measurement Locations. Our beta currently offers more than two dozen points of presence around the globe, so you can test from your most important geographies, and compare performance for different regions. Our plan is to roll out more locations in the coming months.
  • Enterprise-Class Data System. Results are stored and easily accessed for troubleshooting, historical comparisons, release and version performance validation, service level agreement accounting, and other analyses.

Built For Development And Production

There are compelling use cases for Browser Synthetic Monitoring throughout the application lifecycle. Web developers and designers are generally already aware of and may be using WebPageTest for individual measurements; Browser Synthetic Monitoring takes that assessment approach to an entirely new and more robust enterprise-class level, with scheduling, automation, geographic diversity, and data storage and management. It adds a level of confidence that new releases will perform as expected in production.

And to reiterate the benefits in production, Browser Synthetic Monitoring confirms availability across a spectrum of time and geography, helps detect issues before they impact users, and can confirm performance of critical transactions, all using real browsers.

Another crucial use case for synthetic is for setting, monitoring, and enforcing service-level agreements both internally or with third parties. The automatic, dynamically set baselines are hugely useful in agreeing on SLA performance thresholds. And the data storage and management function facilitates reporting on SLA compliance and dealing with variances.

Part of a Complete End-User Monitoring Solution

Synthetic plays an indispensable role in ensuring that websites and web apps are available and deliver the best possible experience and results. AppDynamics Browser Synthetic Monitoring is designed to deliver all the benefits of synthetic and to integrate seamlessly with real-user monitoring and the rest of the AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform. Give the beta a spin today.

Peter Kacandes
Peter has over 16 years in the tech industry, focusing on mobile applications. He's worked for top tech companies including Actuate, Sony Ericsson, Adobe, and Sun Microsystems.

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