Part 1(3): The End User Continues To Drives Results, Synthetic Web Transaction Monitoring

January 30, 2013 | Susan Bilder

Effectively collaborating with customers and engaging the people who work day in and day out with Information Technology (IT) solutions is a difficult task. What makes it more difficult is that the individual end user, those who see the solution on a routine basis, are unique. This means each user has different expectations, especially when discussing application performance monitoring (APM) solutions. Synthetic transactions, or transaction tests that model the user experience, have become a valuable part of the IT manager’s toolkit. This article is part of a series to be published throughout the week and will detail how synthetic transactions can help maximize service level agreement (SLA) performance.

Synthetic transactions have given IT managers an effective method for modeling user experience, although their full potential has not been widely realized. Relating transaction test results to the underlying service conditions has remained a challenge without automation. Organizations are able to harness synthetic transactions to identify the root cause(s) of poor user experience, speed time-to-resolution, and incorporate user experience metrics into up-to-the-minute service level views. What is the result of this? Better SLA performance. Read below to see an example of how Synthetic Web Transaction Monitoring can help with speed troubleshooting:

You are ready to log out at the end of a long, yet uneventful day. Then trouble pops up: Your synthetic transaction test warns the performance of your most important business application is slow and is getting slower. Bad news, because users in the next time zone still have hours of work ahead. You call home to say you’ll be late , again,  while you track down the source of the problem.

The situation is familiar, and persists because transaction tests are meant solely to indicate the user experience. As useful as that is, synthetic transactions have existed largely without links to the tools that monitor the IT components behind the transactions. So even though your transaction test notifies you that user experience is deteriorating, you are on your own to find the cause(s).

Think of the user experience as a variable that, to support service levels most effectively, is best correlated with other variables: service conditions. Say the user experience consists of accessing information through a web-based application. Is network throughput acceptable? Is database performance sufficient? How busy is the CPU?

Of course, IT professionals have for years used various monitoring tools to make the association between unsatisfactory user experience and the underlying conditions. But that takes skill, not to mention that issues can get worse while you uncover the source of the problem.

Using automation to link synthetic transaction performance with related service conditions in real time compresses the discovery process for experts and novices alike, and increases the probability of identifying the root cause correctly.

Additonal Posts in our Synthetic Web Transaction Series

Part 2(3): Use Synthetic Transactions to Validate Consolidation & Virtualization
Part 3(3): Use Synthetic Transactions to Improve Management Reporting of Business Service Levels
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