Synthetic Monitoring – Comparison With Real User Monitoring (RUM)

Synthetic Monitoring- comparison with Real User Monitoring

The End-User Experience Monitoring can be done in two ways i.e Synthetic Monitoring and Real User Monitoring RUM. In this blog, I will be discussing their differences, similarities, advantages, and disadvantages.

What is Synthetic Monitoring?

Synthetic Monitoring is a website performance monitoring technique that tests the website by simulating the paths that users might follow while they are interacting with the website. It’s also known as Synthetic Testing, active monitoring, or proactive monitoring.

Synthetic website monitoring runs continuous tests to get information about crucial transactions, page load time, website speed, and other special events. With the help of it, you can know how well your website responds to a different set of simulated actions that the users may perform. Hence, Active Monitoring helps you resolve the issues much before the end-users are affected.

Why Synthetic Monitoring?

In this era of digitization, providing a good user experience is the key factor to succeed. Hence it’s important to track the performance of your digital platform (Application/Website).

Following are the reasons why you need Synthetic Monitoring

1. Preparing For The Peak Traffic Season Or A New Feature

With the help of STM, you can make your application, website, or APIs ready for the peak traffic conditions or any other new situations that are predictive. It also gives you the ability to monitor the part of your website which doesn’t have any real user traffic yet.

STM also enables you to track your application performance from the particular geography where you are launching your services and spot the performance issues if any.

2. Holding Your 3rd Party Vendors Accountable

Most of the present-day services depend upon the 3rd party components for functionality and data. These 3rd party services include Site search, Business intelligence, Analytics solutions, payment processing gateways synthetic Monitoring allows the users of such third-party services to monitor the performance degradation, service level objectives, and unavailability incidents to hold the vendors of such 3rd party Services accountable.

3. Monitoring Complex Transactions And Business Processes

When you intend to deliver a high-quality user experience, only monitoring uptime and availability of your application or website is not sufficient. STM allows you to mimic user transactions such as login, adding to cart, checking out, searching, filling forms, etc from different geographies. Then you can monitor and plan your performance improvement.

4. Measuring And Adhering To SLAs

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are crucial to a present-day business. Measuring and sticking to agreed SLAs is beneficial for both the client and vendor. Using STM vendors can have a better understanding of Performance limitations and availability issues. Hence vendors can set up realistic Service level objectives and avoid unpredicted penalties.

5. Baselining And Benchmarking

Synthetic Monitoring allows you to continuously monitor your application/website/API at the location and frequency of your choice. You can use the tracked data to baseline your application’s Performance, Identify the parts of your website that require performance improvement. With STM you can Benchmark your application performance with your competitors or your historic self.

6. Spotting And Fixing Issues Before They Impact Your End-Users

Synthetic Monitoring proactively tracks the performance of your application or APIs continuously even when the traffic volumes are low and warns you in case of unavailability or performance issues.

So you can find the root cause of the issue, engage subject experts, and fix the issue before it impacts the end-users. STM enables you to mimic user interactions and conduct test runs from behind the firewall and global monitoring locations.

7. Test From The End-Users Perspective

Using STM you can monitor the performance of your application under the influence of all dynamic components of your application and measure the true end-user experience. Such realistic monitoring gives you clear visibility into the end-user experience metrics such as load time, DOM load and first paint, etc. By testing your application/API from the end-users perspective, you can make your platform ready for all diverse user scenarios.

8. Monitoring Under No Real User Traffic i.e Before Deploying The Application

When the right techniques are employed, STM can come up with reports from the end user’s point of view and let you know-how is the performance, whether the user will be satisfied with the experience. It means that you can get the performance insights of your applications or APIs before launching where there will be no real-world users.

A fully featured STM can measure performance from the real browser level, measurements such as first paint time, a specific object, and above-the-fold load times.

How Does Synthetic Monitoring Work?

Synthetic Monitoring works by testing the application under the simulated environments i.e predefined transaction paths between a robot and your application, that a typical user may follow while they are interacting with the application’s front end.

These simulated paths are triggered over locations across the globe, different Operating systems to test and collect data of response time, availability, errors, and other special instances. Synthetic Monitoring installed inside the firewall-within the data center ensures the proper running of all the machines and when installed outside the firewall it gives information about the availability and global level performance.

Synthetic testing either simulates a browser (virtual end-user) or even drives an actual browser to track, test, and report the activity. Synthetic Monitoring issues scripts of user interaction paths and these scripts visit the application periodically and record the data of availability, response time, and other special instances to provide a performance report.

Uses of Synthetic Monitoring Tools

Here we will discuss the top Synthetic Monitoring tools in the market today.

  • Pingdom

Pingdom is a popular website performance monitoring tool with which setting up Synthetic Monitoring requires very few steps. This tool also allows you to run Transaction Monitoring with a testing frequency of one day to 5 mins. The tech lead teams can make use of this application load testing tool to ensure the application is running smoothly.

  • AppDynamics

AppDynamics is another Synthetic Monitoring tool which is offered by cisco to track the website availability and responsiveness over 26 globally distributed cloud-based agents. This tool also allows you to simulate and measure the user-directed paths across the pages. Also, AppDynamics’ private agent allows you to test your internal applications which aren’t accessible publicly with the help of other agents.

  • New Relic

New Relic is popularly known for its Synthetic Monitoring capabilities, similar to other Synthetic Monitoring tools it also has servers distributed across the globe to test the applications, websites, and API services for availability, functionality, and performance issues. This tool also performs rechecks which are termed as the 3-strike Alert policy that can reduce false alerts.

  • Uptrend

Uptrend, which is among the leading Synthetic web performance monitoring tools can also be useful for IT teams for performance monitoring. You can check the website issues using more than 200 globally distributed servers offered by Uptrends Synthetics. Uptrends offer Not only tracking uptime, page metrics, and transactions but also a bandwidth throttling feature to test the application performance under varying network conditions.

  • Site24x7

Site24x7 offers a monitor product for Synthetic Transaction Monitoring. It can monitor the performance of an application, Website, API services from 100 worldwide locations and send alerts through different media such as text messages, e-mail, push notifications. This tool also offers different routes and add-ons to reach the website monitoring requirements.

  • Catchpoint

Catchpoint Monitoring tool suits the requirements of a business that is geographically spread and you need a comprehensive tracking of uptime. Catchpoint offers 700 plus nodes to monitor the website uptime, performance, and User Experience in 80-plus countries. Catchpoint also supports the MQTT protocol that is very much useful to you to track your IoT devices.

Comparing Synthetic Monitoring with RUM

The End-User Experience Monitoring can be done in two ways i.e Synthetic Monitoring and Real User Monitoring RUM. In this blog, I will be discussing their differences, similarities, advantages, and disadvantages.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Synthetic Monitoring

Benefits of Synthetic Monitoring

  • It provides the End-User point of view: You can test for your website performance at peak load conditions and spot the issues much before the end-users run into them.
  • Synthetic Monitoring can monitor more complex transactions: It can simulate transaction paths that are not simple and run the performance test each time.
  • Synthetic Monitoring can Benchmark your Performance: It can baseline your application performance by providing different forms of metrics such as waterfall charts.

Limitations of Synthetic Monitoring

  • Synthetic Monitoring is too predictable:

It only tracks the artificial scripts and they don’t truly represent what the real End-Users experience in realistic scenarios. All the tested environments are mostly easily predictable.

  • Synthetic Monitoring has limited performance monitoring tools:

you have to prepare new scripts for every new simulation that has to be tested and can not have many tools which come in handy.

  • Low Cost-effective:

either you find a Performance Monitoring system that is costly and with advanced capabilities or a cheap and with low capabilities.

How is Real user Monitoring different from Synthetic Monitoring?

Here are the differences between Synthetic Monitoring and Real User Monitoring (RUM)

  • Real User Monitoring RUM collects the data directly from the end users’ browser through the JavaScript code embedded on each page and shows the performance of the website in the hands of real-world visitors. But Synthetic Monitoring is different.
  • Instead of collecting the Real Users’ data, it simulates the environment with the artificial testing scripts which then periodically visit the website, runs the performance test at every time of the visit, and collects the data for availability, response time, and other special instances.
  • While STM (Synthetic Monitoring) can help in monitoring the performance only in the predictive conditions, RUM (Real User Monitoring) can provide a better insight into the performance of a website/application in realistic and diverse scenarios.

Which one wins? RUM or STM

When it comes to applications of both Synthetic and Real-User Monitoring they are effective in different conditions. RUM Performance Reports are based on real user traffic, so it is the true user experience that the end-users get when they explore the website. But Synthetic Monitoring helps you Monitor your website performance even when there is no User traffic.

Synthetic Monitoring can help to test the performance in scripted environments but Real User Monitoring can give you clear visibility into the performance of the website in the real world possible scenarios. With the help of Synthetic Monitoring, you can avoid the performance issues before they affect the end-user, it cannot be as realistic performance insight as RUM so it’s a win for both RUM and STM.

Conclusion

Synthetic Monitoring and Real-User Monitoring gives you two different types of Performance reports of your application/website and that is useful in many ways. Both approaches have their respective limitations and merits but when they are implemented together they give extremely useful insights into the performance.

When we use the data from both Real-User and Synthetic Monitoring it allows you to deep-dive into specific issues and resolve shortcomings in detailed ways. It also provides you the full visibility into the User Experience and performance and with all this knowledge, one can scale the site and estimate how fast the site needs to be to acquire competitiveness and better User Experience.

When it comes to user experience and application maintenance, it is important to proactively find and fix production defects. We at Seagence help software developers and enterprises with the production and defect monitoring solutions that uncover all defects with the root cause in real-time. Feel free to contact us for your inquiries, our experts will be in touch within 24hours and will assist you with the best guidance.

Know more about Real User Monitoring (RUM)

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