In application monitoring, understanding the end-user experience is crucial

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It’s a well known fact that application monitoring is an ongoing process. Precisely for this reason, it is worthwhile to gauge the kind of monitoring support your system might need. Depending on the purpose they serve, most systems would need dedicated monitoring for different elements, i.e. internal applications, user interface, user experience, etc. For most client server and web applications though, end-user monitoring may be a necessity.

The Challenge

The challenge lies in recognizing application requirements from an end-user perspective. Many application monitoring systems are put into use with the understanding that these will cover the usual elements of application health monitoring. While this may be the case, several key areas such as actual end-user experience or response time might be overlooked by a tool you may have specifically installed for monitoring purposes.

Real End-user Experience

You have employed the best infrastructure available. Your quality standards are also in keeping with industry best-practices. Your networks and servers are running fine and there are no technical issues. Despite these efforts, you still receive complaints on certain key business applications. If this sounds familiar, you may need to evaluate the end-user experience and employ monitoring your application specifically for this purpose.

The challenge also lies in defining final user experience. For practical purposes, user experience is negative when your application pace is steadily declining, or the pace is slower than what the users are expecting, or it does not perform the task it is expected to perform. There are also other issues such as the application not reacting to commands, or behaving in an unexpected fashion, sending errors, etc. The application monitoring tool you decide to employ must be able to identify these problems. There are several different kinds of monitoring, specific to such experience:

– Agents that test system robustness by emulating end-users.
– Appliances that can help determine network behavior by monitoring web traffic for web-based applications.
– Agents that record end-user experiences from the user’s perspective.

However, different kinds of monitoring systems come with diverse challenges; the foremost being the inability to replicate the user experience, and thus defeating the purpose of application monitoring.

Is there a Solution?

Even after you deploy different application monitoring systems, you may still not be able to get rid of user complaints. This could be because there are limitations to the monitoring approach of most tools.

Ideally, application health monitoring from end user perspective should include a tool that integrates different applications, their protocols, and their operating environments.

If you have a system that encompasses several different applications and you choose to monitor each one separately, the costs and effort of maintaining such a monitoring system would simply be prohibitive.

Ideally, you should choose a tool that can mimic your user behavior, while also taking into account diverse operating environments. Further, end-user experience of applications is best monitored by unobtrusive agents or those that do not affect other applications or servers.