Before we get into the benefits of synthetic monitoring, let’s start by defining it. Synthetic monitoring is a method used to monitor applications by simulating users. It’s different than real-time monitoring, which requires user traffic and measures the actual user experience. Real-time monitoring reactively identifies problems or issues after they occur, whereas synthetic monitoring proactively measures application health using synthetically-generated traffic.
There are many benefits of synthetic monitoring, but here are the top five:
1. Monitor Proactively
Synthetic monitoring does not require users to monitor the performance and communication health of an application. You can determine how packets flow between potential users and on-premises or cloud-hosted applications. EMA’s survey* found that 39% of all network problems are reported by end users before network operations is aware. Synthetic monitoring is that holy grail for NetOps, DevOps and SecOps—being proactive and identifying issues to fix before users notice.
2. Know Global User Satisfaction 24×7
Modern applications are spread across cloud data centers such as Azure, AWS, GCP and others. Add to this mix, the unabated growth of SaaS applications such as Office 365, Workday, Zendesk, Zoom, SFDC and the list goes on. How do you ensure your users will get the performance you want to provide them? By having synthetic agents distributed across the globe, you can know if your users will be satisfied or not 24×7. You can run continuous simultaneous tests and always know the state of your user experience.
3. Supercharge Business Agility
Deploy your application infrastructure to meet seasonality, unplanned demands, roll out an app as a competitive response or respond to an event such as a pandemic. Roll out your apps at the pace your business demands and NetOps will be right there in lock step. Synthetic testing gives tremendous flexibility with lightweight infrastructure that can be turned on instantaneously. It can go anywhere your application goes.
4. Monitor Complex Application Interactions
Synthetic monitoring allows you to emulate business processes and user transactions between different business applications. You can understand critical infrastructure performance. You can test business-to-business web services that use SOAP, REST or other web services technologies to validate and baseline interactions. Synthetic testing can simulate searching (database), adding items to cart (web application), logging in (identity validation), etc. in order to measure performance of holistic application interactions.
5. Baseline and Objectively Measure Application SLAs
With synthetic testing, you can baseline around-the-clock network behavior. Baseline and benchmark data to analyze trends and variance between peak and off-peak hours and to plan for capacity. Managing SLAs is very important today as so many companies rely on third-party vendors to host all or parts of their applications. Synthetic testing affords you the ability to monitor performance of any 3rd party application at frequencies you want to validate and from locations you choose, at any time. It can be used to ensure quality service delivery, accelerate problem identification, protect customer experiences and report on the compliance of internal or external providers.
If proactive monitoring is the direction you want to take your IT organization, synthetic monitoring is a key capability you cannot afford to overlook. Synthetic monitoring enables NetOps to move from a reactive firefighting mode to proactive and around-the-clock visibility without depending on actual users.
Riverbed NetIM is a comprehensive solution for mapping, monitoring and troubleshooting your infrastructure components. It leverages multiple approaches such as synthetic testing, SNMP, CLI, WMI and more. Learn how Riverbed can help you expand infrastructure monitoring and deliver the benefits of a Unified NPM approach across packets, flows and devices.
*Enterprise Management Associates: Network Management Mega Trends 2020