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How Digital Experience Monitoring Can Help Optimize User-to-Application Performance

How Digital Experience Monitoring Can Help Optimize User-to-Application Performance

IT organizations worldwide are struggling to meet their business objectives for application performance. The growth of the hybrid workforce and the movement of applications to the cloud have put both employee productivity and high-quality customer experiences at risk.

One key contributor to this increased risk is that most companies rely on legacy monitoring tools such as application performance monitoring (APM), infrastructure performance monitoring (ITIM), and network performance monitoring (NPM) solutions. These old solutions lack the holistic visibility necessary to evaluate, troubleshoot, and optimize today’s user-to-application experience.

CISOs are turning to trailblazing digital experience monitoring (DEM) tools to successfully identify technology performance issues and better align user-to-application experiences to support business objectives. As a result, analysts are projecting for the rapid growth of the DEM market in the next few years.

The Importance of Excellent User-to-Application Experience
Whether your users are at home, on the road, in a retail location around the corner, or a branch office across the globe, they must have consistent, high-quality access to applications. At the same time, most businesses depend on a combination of business applications in a data center, private or public clouds, or delivered via Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers. Users may connect to those applications via a local-area network (LAN), Wi-Fi, wide-area network (WAN), or internet service providers (ISPs).

No matter where users are located and how they connect to business applications, an excellent user-to-application experience is critical for maintaining and improving employee productivity and customer satisfaction.

Complexity Impedes End-to-End Visibility

As digitalization and cloud adoption accelerate, IT teams are finding that APM, ITIM and NPM lack the end-to-end visibility necessary to monitor and troubleshoot their users’ digital experience. With uneven visibility and control of users accessing applications directly from their endpoints, the IT team’s ability to support and resolve user concerns is severely hampered.

Legacy APM tools are useful for collecting data on an app’s health and performance. The tools typically inform you of an app’s response time or of a performance bottleneck somewhere in the code. While the information from these tools is important to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) and help DevOps and IT operations teams troubleshoot issues, it doesn’t provide any understanding of the user’s end-to-end application performance.

Organizations with multiple-cloud environments, as well as on-premises or hybrid apps, may require multiple ITIM and APM tools. While IT teams may be able to stitch together data and metrics from multiple, siloed tools to understand and troubleshoot user-to-application performance issues, relying on this tractional approach is complex, time-consuming, and error-prone.

Simulating User Behavior
Synthetic transaction monitoring (STM) simulates user behavior to help IT teams better understand the user’s experience of application performance. Periodic STM checks give IT teams insight into the performance from the user’s perspective, wherever they may be located.

For public-facing applications, geographically distributed synthetic monitoring can provide early warnings about potential issues—such as regional ISP outages—so they can be proactively addressed. STM checks from branch offices, retail stores, or end-user devices can provide foresight into potential internal and SaaS business application issues and alert IT teams before application availability or performance degradation occurs.

While STM provides insights into user experience, it alone can’t identify the causes of issues with the network, the infrastructure, the application, or the user’s device. Typically, IT teams rely on network, infrastructure, and device monitoring tools for information to troubleshoot and fix performance issues. When this information is correlated with application performance and availability data from the user’s perspective, the end-user experience can be repaired or improved.

Holistic Monitoring from the User’s Perspective

Digital experience monitoring ensures uninterrupted productivity. It also quickly assists in problem resolution and enables the IT staff to comprehend issues from a user’s point of view. And DEM simplifies the evaluation of third-party solutions, allowing IT teams to enforce SLAs.

Due to the limitations of APM, ITIM, NPM, and STM, CISOs and their IT staffs are turning to DEM solutions to ensure that end-user experiences are better aligned with the organization’s business goals. DEM is the melding of traditional end-user experience monitoring tools into a single, holistic solution that quickly analyzes the efficacy of an enterprise’s applications and services from the user’s perspective.

Combining the traditional siloed monitoring tools into a comprehensive DEM platform enables end-to-end visibility across the entire user experience—no matter where the user resides or where the application is hosted. This helps IT teams more efficiently troubleshoot issues and proactively optimize the user’s digital experience.

Five Essential Requirements of DEM

The essential requirements for an effective digital experience monitoring solution include the following: 

  • Reach – Users can be anywhere around the world, so a DEM solution must be able to monitor from multiple physical vantage points.
  • Versatility – A DEM solution must enable many different applications and services, whether public cloud-based, private cloud-based, or deployed on-premises or SaaS.
  • Accurate alerting – When user-to-application performance is disrupted or degrades, a DEM solution should send an alert providing detailed vendor-agnostic insights to help quickly pinpoint the root cause of the issue.
  • Correlation and automation – During an incident, a DEM solution should automatically issue core diagnostics commands and correlate the diagnostics output with the performance telemetry data to facilitate collaboration, remediation, and workflow automation.
  • Integration – A DEM solution should be simple to set up, use, and scale as well as integrate easily with existing networks, infrastructure, applications, and services to provide end-to-end visibility across the environment.

The Three Key Advantages of DEM
There are several differentiating advantages for organizations that use a DEM approach:

  • Reduced time to troubleshoot and resolve issues – DEM correlates end-to-end performance metrics to identify the root causes of technical issues quickly, whether related to endpoint devices, local or home networks, VPNs, remote offices, SD-WAN, or applications. This speeds up the time to resolve issues.
  • Preemptively identify and remediate problems – DEM establishes thresholds and correlates performance telemetry and diagnostic output to identify performance degradation and remediate potential user-to-application performance problems before the business is impacted.
  • Improve customer and employee digital experience – Using STM to gain performance insights at each service step, DEM can identify issues and improve user experiences.

Aligning Application Performance to Business Goals

Digital transformation and hybrid workforces have compelled organizations to focus on providing outstanding end-user experiences with their applications. But user-to-application performance can be impacted by many different variables. Before issues arise, IT teams need early and accurate signals of performance degradation to manage and maintain an optimal user experience.

A DEM solution with the recommended essential requirements can help organizations proactively monitor application performance from the user’s perspective. DEM gives IT teams visibility into applications and their dependent network and cloud services to help optimize user-to-application performance in support of broader business objectives.

Learn how FortiMonitor empowers CISOs and their IT staff with user-to-application performance monitoring that helps improve customer and employee digital experience.


Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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