enterprises focusing on end-user experience monitoring

Ensuring end-user experience and adequate application performance is at the top of many CIOs' agenda. Enterprise applications are at the core of how modern businesses operate and also are the first line of contact for customers in many business.

Take ecommerce, as an example: the average consumer has become increasingly impatient over the last eight years. In 2009, an Akamai study found that consumers would wait two seconds for an ecommerce page to load before browsing away. In 2006, consumers were happy to wait for up to four seconds. It would be a reasonable assumption that in 2014 consumers’ happy trigger fingers would see them getting bored with load times of significantly less.

It’s not just ecommerce applications that need to run lightning fast to improve your bottom line. Take a traditional enterprise application such as payroll. If the user takes just ten seconds longer to complete the operation, it will take over four days longer to complete the process for a 12,000-employee company. This just serves up big dollops of unnecessary cost for the organization and frustration for the user.

end-users frustrated with applications

Forrester undertook some research in 2013 on behalf of Riverbed, which identified cost-efficiency as the number one ranked reason enterprises chose to optimize their applications. It also found that end-users were increasingly frustrated with the performance of enterprise applications, particularly in light of the increasing power and functionality that were now the norm for consumer applications. The study found that 17% of respondents were not satisfied with their enterprise applications compared to just 6% who said the same thing about their home applications.

While there is a clear business case for optimizing both customer-facing and internal applications, ensuring good end-user experience for all enterprise applications on the network is no easy task. Application and infrastructure complexity has increased and many processes incorporate data and functionality that needs to be delivered by external data centers and third parties.

Echoing this, the Forrester survey respondents identified application complexity as the most common and most important obstacle to overcome. The report says: “Applications tend to incorporate services in many tiers — not just three tiers anymore. The interdependencies between these services and tiers can easily introduce latency into processing and cause errors that can slow performance and even compromise application availability.”

This trend is set to continue unabated. Gartner has identified that hybrid clouds will be a key strategic trend in 2014, with the IT department increasingly acting as a service broker. The analyst says that “enterprises that are expanding into hybrid cloud computing from private cloud services are taking on the cloud service broker role. Terms like ‘overdrafting’ and ‘cloudbursting’ are often used to describe what hybrid cloud computing will make possible.” This adds an additional layer of optimization complexity.

slow adoption of application performance tools

Despite the clear importance of application performance management to enterprises, adoption of tools and processes is still lagging. The Forrester survey reports that 65% of enterprises had either adopted on-premise application performance monitoring tools – or were planning to. This compares unfavorably to other enterprise monitoring activity, such as network tools (77%), database tools (76%) and server tools (83%). Even fewer enterprises were looking to deploy tools to help them monitor end-user experience, which is essential to see how the application is performing at the point of use.

Luckily the tide is turning. One of the strongest trends for 2014 is the growing importance of end-user experience monitoring. “2014 is the year we will see APM drive a meaningful commitment to end-user monitoring solutions. Companies are finally realizing that a strictly network-centric approach to APM is like arriving at noon for an 8:00 am cruise,” David Williams, VP Strategy, Office of the CTO, BMC Software told APM Digest.

End-user experience monitoring provides enterprises real insight into how the application is actually performing on users’ desktops. This is a step up from traditional monitoring tools that provide information such as latency, resource optimization and throughput. The difficulty enterprises face is knitting together different data from different disciplines to get the whole picture.

combining four data sources

So what should enterprises do to improve their insight into end-user experience? Well, according to Erik Giesa, SVP of Business Development and Marketing from vendor ExtraHop, enterprises need to understand and monitor four different types of data: machine data, agent data, synthetic data and wire data.

By taking a holistic view that incorporates data from these four sources, enterprises are able to understand what is happening at the end-user level and take action perhaps even before the end-user notices a problem. The upshot is happy customers, productive employees and a better bottom line.

Are you looking into improving your end-user experience monitoring capabilities? Will you deploy new tools in this area in 2014? Please let me know your thoughts.


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Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.