Monitoring from Outside the Network

The Internet can fail in many creative and hard-to-pinpoint ways. Even though these aren’t your fault, they’re still your problem. To detect these problems, you need external tests that can watch your site from around the world.

A synthetic monitoring solution can:

  • Alert you when your site is unreachable or unacceptably slow

  • Detect localized outages limited to a region or a carrier

  • Identify performance issues specific to a particular segment of your visitors, such as those using a certain web browser or a specific operating system

  • Baseline your performance and availability around the world

  • Predict whether you’ll need to use content delivery networks when entering new markets

  • Localize errors and slowdowns to a particular component of your infrastructure

  • Generate additional traffic to test the capacity of your system or evaluate a new code release before it goes into production

  • Test things you don’t control, like mashup content or third-party web services

  • Compare your performance to that of your competitors

  • Estimate required capacity going forward by simulating load

A Cautionary Tale

A web startup we know had invested heavily in bottom-up device monitoring tools. It had also deployed several web analytics tools, and employees were confident they could finally sleep well at night, knowing that a series of well-designed alerts would notify them immediately if something went wrong.

The company had also been through a dramatic reduction in its operational staff. ...

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