What is End User Monitoring?

End user experience monitoring, also known as digital experience monitoring, is quickly becoming essential to IT Operations teams. While approaches vary, typical capabilities include information on response time, latency, and availability, as well as conventional data such as processor and memory consumption, storage performance, and running processes. Some include details on physical or virtual remote devices. Overall, the goal of end user experience monitoring is to help Service Desk, End User Services, and IT Ops, Applications, and End User Services teams identify potential user problem areas quickly, preferably before users even notice.

Think of the many different activities that you need to monitor, and the sorts of information that are necessary to be able to determine why the user is having a poor experience.

 

Common User Monitoring Scenarios
End User Activity Information needed for quick diagnosis
Opening cached email in MS Outlook Device resources and metrics
User activity
Screen render time
Searching for a specific patient record Device resources and metrics
User activity
Screen render time
Network transaction tracing
Executing SAP transaction Device resources and metrics
User activity
Screen render time
Network transaction tracing
Saving record in web application Device resources and metrics
User activity
Screen render time
Network transaction tracing
Web request and response pairs
Opening record in SaaS application Device resources and metrics
User activity
Screen render time
Network transaction tracing
Opening screen on mobile workforce application Device resources and metrics
User activity
Screen render time
Network transaction tracing
Web page response time, if mobile web application

There are several different methods of end user experience monitoring that collect different sets of information, including synthetic monitoring, browser-baser monitoring, JavaScript injection, and device monitoring. We will also examine a new approach to end user experience monitoring that captures what users actually see when applications render on their screens.

 

What is Synthetic Monitoring?

The synthetic monitoring approach uses scripts to emulate the interaction between users and applications. Periodically running these scripts helps identify issues before they affect end user experience. Synthetic monitoring provides performance baselines and valuable info on availability, especially for applications with inconsistent usage patterns. This technique is also helpful to evaluating third-party services and APIs.

Unfortunately, synthetic monitoring does not provide information on actual end-user experience, circumstances of a specific user’s device, network conditions, or other inhibiting factors. IT ops must also develop, update, and maintain the scripts, which can be time consuming and out of step with actual behavior.

 

Pros Cons
Develop performance baselines Time consuming to develop and maintain scripts
Identify some user issues before they develop
Measure application availability at scheduled times Not connected to specific end-user experience or complaints
Evaluate 3rd-party services and API

 

Packet-based End-User Experience
Packet-based end user experience monitoring is another way to view the response time for web pages from an end-user perspective. Using network packets, you can passively monitor the time it takes the browser to load the entire web page. You can also monitor the time it takes to load the individual objects that make up the web page or even measure the load time for a group of web pages that work as a single web transaction. Packet-based, end-user experience monitoring does not provide a complete picture of end-user experience as it does not measure device performance. However, packet capture is useful when monitoring consumer web applications that cannot otherwise be easily instrumented.

What is JavaScript Injection?
Injecting JavaScript code directly into a web application and provides IT Operations with information about what is happening at a user’s web browser. This technique can also call third-party services and APIs, delivering better insights into a user’s actual experience.

JavaScript injection gets closer to complete end user experience monitoring, at least for web apps. However, it requires either direct control of the application or proxy servers for externally hosted applications. While this works well for web and hybrid mobile applications, it becomes increasingly complicated and expensive, and does not cover other types of applications at all. Code injection also does not collect any details on the conditions of the user’s device nor the many network segments and cloud services between user and server.

What is Physical and Virtual Device Monitoring?
Device monitoring is a popular approach for measuring operating system health and behavior. This includes metrics such as CPU and memory utilization, storage performance, network response at the device, and crashed or not-responding processes. These are important factors, but do not provide a complete picture of end user experience.

One of the big challenges with device monitoring is relating operating systems metrics to user complaints. When a user complains about delays in retrieving a patient record, saving changes, or opening a document, or just the screen taking too long to load, it can take considerable time and effort to determine exactly where the problem is occurring.

A New Approach to End User Experience Monitoring
Actual end user experience monitoring begins at the point of consumption, on the user’s physical or virtual device, and captures what is rendered on the screen. Using light-weight agents, this approach is able to correlate three streams of data: device health, application performance, and usage metrics. End user experience monitoring solutions can also help automate and remediate fixes to accelerate MTTR and lower operational costs.

As enterprises adopt the constant stream of new business-critical applications delivered via cloud or on premises, IT must keep pace, to ensure quality of service and workforce productivity. Riverbed’s end user experience monitoring solution is shown below.
Detailed view of end user experience

Learn more
To learn more about different monitoring approaches for end-user experience monitoring, download “Not All Monitoring Approaches Are Created Equal”.

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