What is Web Performance Monitoring and What is it Good For?

Last week I looked for a new couch and hit all the local furniture store websites. One of the biggest stores flunked the web test. Barely anything showed up on the page. Meanwhile, I still got Facebook ads for the store, and clicking on those, again, nothing. I bought my sofa from their competitor. 

The sad fact is many small and even medium-sized businesses set up websites – then have no idea how well they perform. Prospects could be coming to the site, waiting several seconds for a response, and then leaving in frustration – without even giving your business a chance! 

 

The only way these companies find a problem is if somebody complains, and chances are these window shoppers simply abandoned the website. Usually it an employee swinging by the website who finds the performance wanting or the site utterly down. 


Your website is too critical a resource to waste. It is increasingly core to your business, the main way people find you and learn more about your products and services, and interact with you once they buy something. It is the face of your business – not something you to have a laissez-faire attitude about. 

Here is what many organizations don’t know: 

  • 87% of web visitors will abandon your website after waiting as little as 2 seconds for a page to load.
  • The ideal load time is no more than 1-2 seconds.
  • Google’s goal is for its own pages to load in less than a half-second.
  • Google gives lagging websites negative rankings. 

Smart organizations know that web monitoring is essential to ensure adequate performance. Often, they buy a web monitoring service and pay monthly for those results. And for simple websites in the cloud that have no live or dynamic connections to the businesses’ on-premises applications, those services are okay. But every month the bill comes in, and there's no guarantee that those rates won't rise over time. And these services tend to focus on uptime, with a goal of 99.99% uptime rather than the overall performance of your site. And they have little to no insight into your internal network that may be the problem, especially if the website or some of the underlying data is hosted inside your firewall.

Having web monitoring that you own and can control and configure is a much better option for most companies. Even better if web monitoring is built into a broader network monitoring solution that already tracks the performance of your overall network, creates alerts when problems are found, reports on overall health as well as specific areas of the network, and offers a historical view. Here the website is just one more thing that is being tracked, and that data flows into the network monitoring interface your IT staff is already using to get alerts, reports, and supporting remediation 

Diving Deep into Website Monitoring   

 

Simply put, web monitoring provides alerts when problems occur, quickly identifies the root cause of web issues, insures and restores web performance levels to create a satisfying web experience, and comply with any web Service Level Agreements (SLAs) you may have.

Alerts

Once you are monitoring your website, you can find out almost anything about how it is working. That's too much information. While it's good to have all that data at hand, you need the most important issues to rise to the top. That's where alerts come in. You don't want a text an email or phone call saying your website is working great, or that is working 2% slower than it's supposed to be. When you're barraged with messages like this – it's all just noise.

You want alerts that mean something, and with a good web monitoring solution, you will have fine control over the conditions worthy enough to generate alerts. That includes defining separate warning and down states, specifying critical and non-critical application components, and configuring application-level dependencies.

Dashboards

Alerts handle the high-impact action items, such as when something is broken or seriously damaged and you need it fixed quickly. The second level of immediacy is the Current Status Dashboard which offers quick visibility into the health of your web applications. You can also analyze application performance problems over time, and spot, diagnose, and resolve chronic problems with the Component Summary Dashboard.

Get the Skinny on End-User Response Times

Web monitoring provides a heads up when users experience poor response times. With WhatsUp Gold, IT can measure end-to-end response times using Progress iMacros and iDrone software extensions, and use both to create monitoring scripts that run anywhere in your network.

Automate Your Web Recovery

If the website goes down, it's nice to get an alert that tells IT so they can take steps to get it back up and running. But this is not immediate. What happens if the IT professional isn't available, or the alert goes to the phone left in a car or with a dead battery? Wouldn't it be better to have problems fixed immediately without requiring IT intervention?

With WhatsUp Gold, IT can create multi-step Action Policies that kick in when there is a state change such as a downstate. The action can immediately write a log entry, invoke an action script to reboot the system, and send an email notification to IT.

The Importance of HTTP Monitoring

The web is all about HTTP, and this protocol is key to examining the state of your web performance. WhatsUp Gold uses HTTP to monitor and alert on web page content. The solution’s HTTP Content Monitor checks specific web pages to ensure that the right content actually appears on the page. If not, IT or the web team gets an alert, or an automated action can be performed.

You can use specific text strings that should appear on the page to run the check, which is done by requesting a URL and checking the HTTP response. If the string isn’t there, the page is likely down, missing, or has been modified.

The HTTP Content Monitor ensures your web pages are fully available and render properly on the variety of browsers your visitors use. This is especially handy to make sure that updates to their web pages have gone through properly. If the update fails, you know you must do it again.

Your Website Isn't an Isolated Application

Your website doesn't simply stand alone but connects to various things in various ways. For example, it is likely connected to other applications that feed it data, such as Microsoft SharePoint and your web content management and publishing solutions. In this sense, the web application is a composite of all the software that supports it and should be monitored as such – by looking at the larger whole.

If your website is hosted internally, it is part of the overall network and lives and dies by how well that network is doing. In this case, a web monitoring solution that also understands the complete network environment is critical.

Even an externally hosted website is tied to your internal network. It is likely managed by a web team that works in the home office – or these days remotely. Their network connections, apps, and infrastructure all must work properly for the website to perform. An overall network monitoring solution that also handles web monitoring can take care of all these issues.

If your website is hosted on an internal server, you'll need to monitor for server availability and performance. Is the server up, what is the CPU utilization, does it have enough memory, are the disks filling up? These are all critical to understanding how well the website is doing and ensuring that the server doesn't run out of gas and degrade your website performance.

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