Why External Synthetic Monitoring is Required to Complete the APM Stack

With the digital landscape shifting everything on the web, and companies fighting for better user experiences, your sites and applications are no longer just a part of your business, it is the business.  But how do you to go about it and remain successful? This is where monitoring and performance management comes into the picture. Not only just for business people, IT teams have also a significant role to play in business growth and revenue optimization.  Both your employees and users are now expecting better than ever experiences and performance while using your digital assets. If there is any problem that they face, it should be resolved in real-time.  So let’s talk about how synthetic monitoring can be utilized to put all the pieces of your application performance puzzle together and solve it for the better.


Application Performance Monitoring (APM) Tools

Application performance monitoring tools allow you to monitor performance benchmarks, identify potential issues and bugs, and monitoring your digital resources. APM tools provide useful information that is required for you to provide flawless user experience and reduce MTTR (mean time to resolution).  Application performance monitoring focuses on to following aspects:

  1. Monitoring normal flows and identifying any unusual behavior.
  2. Collecting supporting data on system-wide abnormal behavior and issues.
  3. Analyzing the data and how it is affecting the business.
  4. Fixing the detected problems and place measures in place to prevent similar issues from happening again.


Traditional APM stack trace tools track and gather the following critical information about your applications and servers.

  1. Detecting and fixing code-level issues.
  2. Application availability and uptime information to check if your application is online and accessible to your users.
  3. IT resources usage information about CPU usage, memory usage/demand, read/write operations/speed of disks.
  4. Application failures, bugs, potential issues, error rates, and stack trace for a quick resolution.
  5. Application response time to measure speed and benchmarking.
  6. User experience information in terms of paths taken by the user and related metrics to optimize the experience.


All set and done, right? Unfortunately, the answer is “No.”

Technology and website and application infrastructure is evolving rapidly with end user expectations and business requirements. A complete infrastructure now contains complex applications and network layers packed together with plug-and-play third party services on your server or in the cloud. This makes the end user journey, and the paths to use your application services, inside and out, a hard job to do.

While traditional APM tools and strategies are valuable to monitor and fix performance issues related to internal application architecture and code, it fails to detect problems and bottlenecks of your website and applications from outside of your internal infrastructures, including third-party API services, CDN, DNS, etc. You would want to avoid your services going down in cases where your external dependencies encounter an issue.

So, a comprehensive monitoring strategy should be able to monitor, detect, and resolve every business transaction in a user’s journey regardless of its point of occurrence and origin. And most of the time, you should be able to do this in real-time and in a proactive manner to avoid any downtime and slow service.  You need more of an arsenal for your APM goals, but how?


Synthetic Monitoring

Synthetic monitoring tools allow you to test and monitor your application and associated external applications and APIs by emulating end user actions using a scripting tool for almost any simple or complex user path in their journey. Synthetic monitoring gives you much-needed information from outside your internal infrastructure and enables you to take proactive actions and responses to prevent certain down events from even happening.  Synthetic monitoring offers the benefits below (and more) and will help you discover the following information that your APM stack trace tools can’t deliver:


  1. Monitor the performance and availability of your services, sites, and applications 24/7
  2. Immediate notification of downtime/outages so you can respond before other users are impacted
  3. Monitor page speed and application load times across multiple regions and browsers.
  4. View overall infrastructure and server health for any bottlenecks
  5. Ensure any third-party API services, such as payment gateways, analytics tools, marketing tools, chat servers, etc., are available
  6. End-to-end transactions across all layers, inside and outside of your firewall.
  7. Monitor complex user flows to optimize performance and maximize revenue.
  8. Provides baseline performance data for your network and applications.
  9. Detect and log browser and device-specific problems.
  10. Track your SLA requirements over specific periods of time.


By taking an outside-in approach to proactively detect and fix issues before they impact your users, you ensure that you prevent performance issues, and more importantly, impact to the business in the form of potential loss to revenue.  Prevention is always better than trying to find a cure. While it is required to log, analyze, and improve real-user events after they happen, it is also very crucial to prevent them entirely from even happening for overall great user experience.

Think of synthetic monitoring as a compliment to your APM stack tracing tools. With APM tools, you get to strengthen your internal infrastructure.  Synthetic monitoring gives you the capability to monitor and prevent events that are not in your control directly even before they happen.  Build your APM goals with a sound implementation of synthetic monitoring solutions from Dotcom-Monitor to get the big picture on performance for your infrastructure, services, sites, and applications.


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