Mind the Gap: Better Digital Experiences from Device to Code


Want some friendly advice? "Mind the gap," says Riverbed's Mike Marks. He refers, of course, to the IT monitoring visibility gap between 1) what your monitoring tools tell you about data-center component performance/availability and 2) what your users actually experience. That matters, because today it's imperative for every business to deliver a robust digital experience to not just customers but also to partners, suppliers, and their own employees.

Bridge the gap with digital experience monitoring

Marks' recent blog post, Use Digital Experience Monitoring to Close Your IT Visibility Gap, delved into this complex issue; as he wrote, bridging the gap is easier said than done. Each of various methods of end-user experience monitoring has strengths and weaknesses, and a combination of these, he concludes, is required for IT to live up to digital experience performance expectations.

The latest release of Riverbed SteelCentral, which integrates technology from Aternity end user experience monitoring, sets itself apart by delivering a single, unified approach to digital experience monitoring. We asked Marks to walk us through the nitty-gritty of this new, first-of-its-class offering.

Watch: Riverbed SteelCentral Digital Experience Management Explainer

Challenge: Justify digital experience investments

Businesses spend a lot of money to deliver a robust digital experience to everyone, but how can IT and business executives know that their investments are achieving the desired effect?

Solution: SteelCentral Portal integrated with Aternity

"The only way to know is to measure if performance is actually getting better for end users," says Marks. "You’ve got to measure what they see when they actually use your application. You’ve got to measure what your call-center workforce sees when they look up a record. And you’ve got to measure what your retail employees see when they look up a price at the cash register."

That's what SteelCentral's new Aternity integration enables: The ability to measure end-user experiences at the point of consumption as the user experiences it. This functionality is now available from the SteelCentral Portal, where IT can cross-reference Aternity analytics with all other SteelCentral components, delivering instant insight into how every facet of infrastructure is affecting end-user experience.

"No other vendor can provide that end-to-end view of not just the performance of the infrastructure components or the application performance or the network performance, but also that view as seen by the end user, for any type of business-critical application in the portfolio," says Marks.One-click drill down from Portal to Aternity End User Experience Monitoring

Challenge: Troubleshooting and resolving application issues

The new focus on digital experience raises the pressure on groups like IT and app developers. IT constantly needs to verify that user complaints are legitimate problems before it can act to resolve them. Developers, meanwhile, are expected to troubleshoot user-side app problems that could be caused by a number of factors.

"If you’ve got to use multiple tools or coordinate multiple teams — say one to look at the application, another to look at the desktop — then that takes a lot of time and coordination," says Marks. "Which means it's expensive."

Watch: Riverbed SteelCentral: Integrated Digital Experience Management

Solution: SteelCentral Aternity integrated with AppInternals

SteelCentral Aternity monitors the end-user experience of every app in the portfolio used by your workforce to do their jobs. When a user calls the help desk to complain, support can immediately use SteelCentral Aternity to validate and identify the likely cause of that user’s complaint.

"Aternity’s monitoring the user experience of every application in the portfolio and it’s identifying those transactions that are slow," says Marks. "So the service desk can validate the user’s complaint, or even better, they can identify that the user is experiencing slow performance without that user even calling."

Now, with the integration of SteelCentral Aternity and SteelCentral AppInternals, the service desk or developer can immediately launch SteelCentral AppInternals directly from SteelCentral Aternity. They can then trace the specific transaction the user’s complaining about all the way to the application back-end down to the responsible line of code, so they can immediately understand the root cause and start resolving it.

A real-world example

Marks relates a recent case where a Riverbed client, a large North American utility, experienced major performance issues when its West Coast contact centers attempted to access customer records, which were all stored in the East Coast datacenter. Meanwhile, East Coast contact center access times seemed fine.

"The most obvious culprit was distance, so management decided to fund a west-coast datacenter to the tune of $40 million," says Marks. "Luckily they assessed things with SteelCentral Aternity first."

SteelCentral Aternity told them that the problem was caused by outdated desktops in the West Coast offices, not distance: The West Coast desktops lacked in sufficient CPU and memory.

"So, rather than spending $40 million and a year and a half to build a new datacenter, they simply purchased new low-cost machines for the West Coast contact center people," says Marks. "Problem solved."

Want to close the gap?

For more details visit the Riverbed End-User Experience Monitoring website, or start a free trial of SteelCentral Aternity to see how its cutting-edge digital experience management can close the gap for your organization, too.