Gartner research describes three things that are required  for a solution to be categorized as application performance monitoring: application discovery, diagnostics and tracing; data analysis; and digital experience monitoring.

Digital experience monitoring, or DEM as it is sometimes called, is different from the other types of monitoring because it takes an outside-in view of the application, looking at what the customer or end user is seeing to see if the application is delivering what the customer wants and expects.

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In a world where businesses are transforming into digital operations, knowing what the customer is seeing is most critical, because a poor experience will impact a company’s reputation and bottom line.

“Experience management is the ultimate goal of monitoring,” said Mehdi Daoudi, founder and CEO of DEM platform provider Catchpoint. “That’s the only way to know that you’re doing something that matters. The CEO is not going to care how many of your CPUs are in use 90 percent of the time.”  

Two critical factors in digital experience monitoring are where you monitor from, and what you look for. You have to monitor where the user is. “It’s even more important today with this virus crisis than ever before, because the amount of people, where they are, has just exploded,” Daoudi said. With more people working remotely than ever, it’s important to know what the experience is like for the user base. So issues like reachability are important. Can the network handle the increased loads? Can the ISP deliver transactions to the customer?  “If you monitor from your data center, you’re blind to the internet, you’re blind to geographic latency,” Daoudi said.

The other critical factor is what to monitor, and Daoudi said you have to monitor the end result. “Imagine if you had a restaurant today, and you’re having a critic come to your restaurant. He’s not going to go into the kitchen to see how you prepare the food, he’s going to order the soup, or salad, a main dish and a dessert, and he’s going to taste it. Did it taste good? And he’s going to look at the presentation. The plate is clean and it looks good. And they charge $50 bucks for that dish.. Is it worth it? It’s about the end result.”

Catchpoint takes a two-pronged approach to gather data on the user experience. One, Daoudi said, is the synthetic approach. Catchpoint has robots in 850 locations that simulate the user running in the last mile, and pays people at home to host a Catchpoint device, which provides the digital ‘mystery’ shopper experience. Catchpoint also has its robots run in data centers, “because it gives you that clean lab environment view,” Daoudi explained. “You can see, OK, I’m in Los Angeles, connected to Comcast, how does it look to try to launch a Zoom conference. How does it look to make a DNS query to Akamai. How does it look to load”

The second part is having customers put beacons on their web pages and web applications to provide a much larger data set, allowing Catchpoint to see “literally every single human transaction,” Daoudi said. Returning to the restaurant example, the ‘mystery shoppers’ are like the food critic, tasting the food. The beacons provide the look into the kitchen, to see how things are running, and how the food is being prepared.

In beta is a solution for employee experiences, with robots installed in the offices of Catchpoint customers and a browser application endpoint that customers install. Daoudi explained: “And so now, we’re seeing what Dave is doing, what John is doing, and we can see, who’s having a bad day with Salesforce? Is it just Dave because he’s on Long Island? Are other things happening on Long Island?  Is the entire East Coast having problems with Zoom? We’re trying to get that visibility from as many perspectives as we can.” 

The point of all this, he said, is to be customer-centric. It means IT working as a partner with the business. “Monitoring for the sake of monitoring is a stupid thing; it’s a waste of money,” Daoudi said. “If you go and spend a gazillion dollars on an APM tool or something, and you are not able to answer, ‘why is my business impacted in Germany,’ then it’s a waste of time and money. It’s important for the IT leaders to make this great transformation.”