Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: John Rauser, Liz McMillan, Madhavan Krishnan, VP, Cloud Solutions, Virtusa, Jason Bloomberg, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Machine Learning , Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Fact Finders: Sorting Out the Truth in Real User Monitoring

Go Real with the right expectations

On my recent visits to Velocity, WebPerfDay and Apps World in London, Real User Monitoring (RUM) was the hot topic. That triggered my thinking about the differences between vendors. They all promise the same for a varying range of prices - from free to a couple thousand US dollars. What I found out is that there IS a big difference and - depending on what you want to do with RUM - you want to make sure you understand the capabilities and limitations of the available solutions.

The false claim of 100% Coverage
What all vendors claim to do is capture data from 100% of your users. When looking closer you see that many of these solutions - especially the "Freemiums" - rely on theW3C Navigation Timings. So my question is: How can I cover ALL Users with W3C timings when these timings are NOT AVAILABLE on all browsers?

W3C timings are only available on new browsers. So - what about the IE6, IE7, IE8, the whole Safari Browser family, older Firefox and Chrome instances? Looking at current statistics they sum up to 35% of the overall market share (http://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php). The statements of vendors that rely on these timings to capture all users experience are simply not accurate.

The performance impact of monitoring
After finding that out I just asked myself: "Are there anymore deficiencies that can be found?"

I first thought about the collection mechanism which reminded me of the challenges all the Web Analytics tools have. Data collection relies on the browsers onUnload event. The RUM tools have to collect the data till the last second of the lifecycle of the page and then send it off. Most SaaS solution vendors are using an image GET request to send the data to the collection instances. Modern browsers are optimizing this event because "Why should a Browser download an image if the page is about to die?"Modern browsers like Chrome optimized this use case and simply do not execute the request at all or do not wait for response if the data got sent. So again- I am losing data from my real end users. The work around some of the vendors put in place is putting a timeout in the onUnLoad-event. I've seen timeouts with up to 500ms which impact the next page that gets loaded. We want to improve the user experience/performance but these tools are forcing the user to wait longer to move to the next page.

So we are losing all the old browsers and additionally the modern ones that do not execute the data collection requests. We are now far away from 100% coverage.

Do the math
Another argument you always hear is that the RUM solution allows you to find out more about the end user environment's impact on page performance. The geographical region of the end user, the browsers, the OS or device can result in slow page performance. But does this really work?

Let's do some simple math and figure out what this means to a page with 1 000 000 visits a day:

  • 1 000 000 over all visits/day
  • 1 000 000 - 35% visits with no W3C timing support in the browser
  • 650 000- 20% not sending the data correct at all or incomplete
  • 520 000 captured visits per day

Figure 1: Only 52% of visitors are captured by most RUM vendors due to limitations of browsers

So we have reduced or base from 1 000 000 to 520 000. Let's start with the break down into the different goupings:

  • 520000 broken down by 100 countries
  • 520000/100 = 5200 visits/country/day
  • 5200 visits per country broken down by 20 Browser Versions
  • 5200/20 = 260 visits/country/browser version/day

Let's break the 260 visits further down by  10 operating system:

  • 260/10 = 26 visits/country/browser version/operating system/day

We want to have date on an hourly basis:

  • 26/24 ~ 1 visits/country/browser version/operating system/hour

**1 000 000 visits per day =~ 1 visits/country/browser version/operating system/hour! We have done no sampling, we have only country level data, we are looking at visits and not page views!**

To clarify: In this calculation I assume that the visits are evenly distributed over all countries but do not take into account that most solutions do sampling at a rate of 1-20% and look at visits with multiple page views instead of unique URIs - this seems to me as a best case scenario. In reality it can be even worse.

So then, why is Real User Monitoring so popular?...
...because it helps you to improve your Users experience! How can that work after knowing that we might not capture data from all our end users? You only have to change your expectations of what you want to achieve with Real User Monitoring.

What you should expect from your RUM solution is:

  • Support for all browsers - not only the new browsers
  • A reliable data sending mechanism
  • W3C timings support
  • Functional Health information like errors from JavaScript and HTTP - not only timings
  • AJAX/XHR-requests timing - not only timings for page loads
  • The click path of a whole visit - not only separate page views
  • Support for desktop browsers, mobile browsers and mobile native applications in combined view
  • Landing and Exit page analysis

If your selected solution provides all these features to you can go an additional step further and not only monitor your users, you can do real User Experience Management (UEM). I just want to point out what that allows you to do in some short examples.

Example 1: JavaScript Errors - Which one to fix first?
If your RUM- UEM solution provides you with JavaScript errors you can start fixing problems right away. It should be able to show you which messages appear how often in which browser, shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Detailed JavaScript error messages are captured for every visit and easy accessible grouped by browser, OS or geo-location

Example 2: Why are my customers leaving my web site?
With the UEM you are now able to not only see that your customers are leaving your web site. You can also figure out if they had technical issues (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Looking at Exit Pages and correlating it with Failure Rate, Performance and User Experience allows us to quickly identify why visitors leave the website on these pages

Example 3: What did my customer do on the application before he called our support center?
Having every visit and all actions available makes it easy for the support center employees to look up the visit information as part of the triage process (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Seeing all actions the visitor really executed on the website helps speed up the complaint process as all facts are available

Example 4: Correlating Performance to Business
Analyzing the performance of every single visit and all actions not only allows us to pinpoint problems on individual pages, certain browsers or geographical regions. It also allows us to correlate problems in the application to business. Knowing how much revenue is lost due to declined performance gives application owners better arguments when discussing investments in the infrastructure or additional R&D resources. The dashboard shown in Figure 5correlates Response Time with the number of Visitors by Continent and the generated Orders. Problems in the infrastructure that lead to performance problems of the application can then easily be correlated to lost revenue:

Figure 5: Correlating Business Values such as number of Orders with Page Performance and Infrastructure Health opens a new of communication between Business and Application Owners

Conclusion
W3C timings give us great insight but it is only available in new browsers. Be aware of what your RUM solution vendor promises to you and do not forget about the simple math. Set your expectations right and look for solutions that support visits and health indicators like HTTP errors and JavaScript errors. Go Real with the right expectations.

More Stories By Klaus Enzenhofer

Klaus Enzenhofer has several years of experience and expertise in the field of Web Performance Optimization and User Experience Management. He works as Technical Strategist in the Center of Excellence Team at dynaTrace Software. In this role he influences the development of the dynaTrace Application Performance Management Solution and the Web Performance Optimization Tool dynaTrace AJAX Edition. He mainly gathered his experience in web and performance by developing and running large-scale web portals at Tiscover GmbH.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
The cloud revolution in enterprises has very clearly crossed the phase of proof-of-concepts into a truly mainstream adoption. One of most popular enterprise-wide initiatives currently going on are “cloud migration” programs of some kind or another. Finding business value for these programs is not hard to fathom – they include hyperelasticity in infrastructure consumption, subscription based models, and agility derived from rapid speed of deployment of applications. These factors will continue to...
"Opsani helps the enterprise adopt containers, help them move their infrastructure into this modern world of DevOps, accelerate the delivery of new features into production, and really get them going on the container path," explained Ross Schibler, CEO of Opsani, and Peter Nickolov, CTO of Opsani, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We're developing a software that is based on the cloud environment and we are providing those services to corporations and the general public," explained Seungmin Kim, CEO/CTO of SM Systems Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"CA has been doing a lot of things in the area of DevOps. Now we have a complete set of tool sets in order to enable customers to go all the way from planning to development to testing down to release into the operations," explained Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President of Global Marketing and Strategy at CA Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The nature of test environments is inherently temporary—you set up an environment, run through an automated test suite, and then tear down the environment. If you can reduce the cycle time for this process down to hours or minutes, then you may be able to cut your test environment budgets considerably. The impact of cloud adoption on test environments is a valuable advancement in both cost savings and agility. The on-demand model takes advantage of public cloud APIs requiring only payment for t...
Cavirin Systems has just announced C2, a SaaS offering designed to bring continuous security assessment and remediation to hybrid environments, containers, and data centers. Cavirin C2 is deployed within Amazon Web Services (AWS) and features a flexible licensing model for easy scalability and clear pay-as-you-go pricing. Although native to AWS, it also supports assessment and remediation of virtual or container instances within Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or on-premise. By dr...
Let's do a visualization exercise. Imagine it's December 31, 2018, and you're ringing in the New Year with your friends and family. You think back on everything that you accomplished in the last year: your company's revenue is through the roof thanks to the success of your product, and you were promoted to Lead Developer. 2019 is poised to be an even bigger year for your company because you have the tools and insight to scale as quickly as demand requires. You're a happy human, and it's not just...
Many enterprise and government IT organizations are realizing the benefits of cloud computing by extending IT delivery and management processes across private and public cloud services. But they are often challenged with balancing the need for centralized cloud governance without stifling user-driven innovation. This strategy requires an approach that fundamentally reshapes how IT is delivered today, shifting the focus from infrastructure to services aggregation, and mixing and matching the bes...
identify the sources of event storms and performance anomalies will require automated, real-time root-cause analysis. I think Enterprise Management Associates said it well: “The data and metrics collected at instrumentation points across the application ecosystem are essential to performance monitoring and root cause analysis. However, analytics capable of transforming data and metrics into an application-focused report or dashboards are what separates actual application monitoring from relat...
The benefits of automation are well documented; it increases productivity, cuts cost and minimizes errors. It eliminates repetitive manual tasks, freeing us up to be more innovative. By that logic, surely, we should automate everything possible, right? So, is attempting to automate everything a sensible - even feasible - goal? In a word: no. Consider this your short guide as to what to automate and what not to automate.
DevOps teams have more on their plate than ever. As infrastructure needs grow, so does the time required to ensure that everything's running smoothly. This makes automation crucial - especially in the server and network monitoring world. Server monitoring tools can save teams time by automating server management and providing real-time performance updates. As budgets reset for the New Year, there is no better time to implement a new server monitoring tool (or re-evaluate your current solution)....
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
We just came off of a review of a product that handles both containers and virtual machines in the same interface. Under the covers, implementation of containers defaults to LXC, though recently Docker support was added. When reading online, or searching for information, increasingly we see “Container Management” products listed as competitors to Docker, when in reality things like Rocket, LXC/LXD, and Virtualization are Dockers competitors. After doing some looking around, we have decided tha...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
While we understand Agile as a means to accelerate innovation, manage uncertainty and cope with ambiguity, many are inclined to think that it conflicts with the objectives of traditional engineering projects, such as building a highway, skyscraper or power plant. These are plan-driven and predictive projects that seek to avoid any uncertainty. This type of thinking, however, is short-sighted. Agile approaches are valuable in controlling uncertainty because they constrain the complexity that ste...
Digital transformation has changed the way users interact with the world, and the traditional healthcare experience no longer meets rising consumer expectations. Enterprise Health Clouds (EHCs) are designed to easily and securely deliver the smart and engaging digital health experience that patients expect today, while ensuring the compliance and data integration that care providers require. Jikku Venkat