Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Aruna Ravichandran, Pat Romanski, Cameron Van Orman

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
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable? Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, will answer these questions and demonstrate techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances ...
We all know that end users experience the Internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices – not doing so will be a path to eventual b...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley, a Senior Business Development Executive in IT Services at NetApp, will describe how NetApp designed a three-year program of work to migrate 25PB of a major telco's enterprise data to a new STaaS platform, and then secured a long-term contract to manage and operate the platform. This significant program blended the best of NetApp’s solutions and services capabilities to enable this telco’s successful adoption of private cloud storage and launchi...
Transforming cloud-based data into a reportable format can be a very expensive, time-intensive and complex operation. As a SaaS platform with more than 30 million global users, Cornerstone OnDemand’s challenge was to create a scalable solution that would improve the time it took customers to access their user data. Our Real-Time Data Warehouse (RTDW) process vastly reduced data time-to-availability from 24 hours to just 10 minutes. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Mark Goldin, Chief Technolo...
Digital transformation leaders have poured tons of money and effort into coding in recent years. And with good reason. To succeed at digital, you must be able to write great code. You also have to build a strong Agile culture so your coding efforts tightly align with market signals and business outcomes. But if your investments in testing haven’t kept pace with your investments in coding, you’ll lose. But if your investments in testing haven’t kept pace with your investments in coding, you’ll...
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...
Containers are rapidly finding their way into enterprise data centers, but change is difficult. How do enterprises transform their architecture with technologies like containers without losing the reliable components of their current solutions? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Tony Campbell, Director, Educational Services at CoreOS, will explore the challenges organizations are facing today as they move to containers and go over how Kubernetes applications can deploy with lega...
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the leading technology training platform for enterprise multi-cloud infrastructure. Cloud Academy is trusted by leading companies to deliver continuous learning solutions across Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most...
The last two years has seen discussions about cloud computing evolve from the public / private / hybrid split to the reality that most enterprises will be creating a complex, multi-cloud strategy. Companies are wary of committing all of their resources to a single cloud, and instead are choosing to spread the risk – and the benefits – of cloud computing across multiple providers and internal infrastructures, as they follow their business needs. Will this approach be successful? How large is the ...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In their Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, and Mark Lav...
Many organizations adopt DevOps to reduce cycle times and deliver software faster; some take on DevOps to drive higher quality and better end-user experience; others look to DevOps for a clearer line-of-sight to customers to drive better business impacts. In truth, these three foundations go together. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 21st Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, industry experts will discuss how leading organizations build application success from all...
DevSecOps – a trend around transformation in process, people and technology – is about breaking down silos and waste along the software development lifecycle and using agile methodologies, automation and insights to help get apps to market faster. This leads to higher quality apps, greater trust in organizations, less organizational friction, and ultimately a five-star customer experience. These apps are the new competitive currency in this digital economy and they’re powered by data. Without ...
A common misconception about the cloud is that one size fits all. Companies expecting to run all of their operations using one cloud solution or service must realize that doing so is akin to forcing the totality of their business functionality into a straightjacket. Unlocking the full potential of the cloud means embracing the multi-cloud future where businesses use their own cloud, and/or clouds from different vendors, to support separate functions or product groups. There is no single cloud so...
For most organizations, the move to hybrid cloud is now a question of when, not if. Fully 82% of enterprises plan to have a hybrid cloud strategy this year, according to Infoholic Research. The worldwide hybrid cloud computing market is expected to grow about 34% annually over the next five years, reaching $241.13 billion by 2022. Companies are embracing hybrid cloud because of the many advantages it offers compared to relying on a single provider for all of their cloud needs. Hybrid offers bala...
With the modern notion of digital transformation, enterprises are chipping away at the fundamental organizational and operational structures that have been with us since the nineteenth century or earlier. One remarkable casualty: the business process. Business processes have become so ingrained in how we envision large organizations operating and the roles people play within them that relegating them to the scrap heap is almost unimaginable, and unquestionably transformative. In the Digital ...
These days, APIs have become an integral part of the digital transformation journey for all enterprises. Every digital innovation story is connected to APIs . But have you ever pondered over to know what are the source of these APIs? Let me explain - APIs sources can be varied, internal or external, solving different purposes, but mostly categorized into the following two categories. Data lakes is a term used to represent disconnected but relevant data that are used by various business units wit...
The nature of the technology business is forward-thinking. It focuses on the future and what’s coming next. Innovations and creativity in our world of software development strive to improve the status quo and increase customer satisfaction through speed and increased connectivity. Yet, while it's exciting to see enterprises embrace new ways of thinking and advance their processes with cutting edge technology, it rarely happens rapidly or even simultaneously across all industries.
It has never been a better time to be a developer! Thanks to cloud computing, deploying our applications is much easier than it used to be. How we deploy our apps continues to evolve thanks to cloud hosting, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and now Function-as-a-Service. FaaS is the concept of serverless computing via serverless architectures. Software developers can leverage this to deploy an individual "function", action, or piece of business logic. They are expected to start within milliseconds...