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Synthetic monitoring works by simulating users navigating to your application. This type of monitoring can provide information about the most common paths in the application, uptime, and performance of your critical business transactions. A synthetic monitoring tool, like AlertSite, not only allows you to monitor the performance of your web and mobile applications, it also allows you to set up monitors on the APIs that power your applications. API monitoring allows you to catch potential performance problems that can be caused by issues with the third parties your applications depend on to perform critical functions.

At SmartBear Software, we have seen thousands of examples of companies that have revolutionized their performance strategies by implementing synthentic monitoring with AlertSite.

These companies include:

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In this article, we’ll take a look at 7 of the key benefits of synthetic monitoring that we hear from AlertSite customers.

1. Find and fix issues before they impact your end users

Synthetic monitoring helps you emulate user interactions and run them as tests from global monitoring locations or from behind your firewall. Synthetic monitoring proactively watches over your APIs, websites, web, mobile and SaaS applications, even during the low-traffic periods, and alerts your operations team in case of performance degradation or availability issues.  So you get enough bandwidth to identify the problem, engage subject matter experts, find the root cause and fix issues before they impact the end users. 

For a travel technology company, like Revelex, a synthetic monitoring tool like AlertSite has helped improve customer satisfaction.

Revelex-Logo.png"AlertSite enables us to recognize performance issues quickly and resolve them before our customers notice anything. The cost and support are superior to Keynote, our previous performance measurement supplier, and switching providers is paying off in improved customer satisfaction." James Horvath, Revelex CTO

2. Baselining and Benchmarking

Synthetic monitoring gives you the ability to monitor your APIs and applications at frequency and location(s) of your choice, at all times. Over time, this monitoring data can be used for baselining your application’s performance, identifying areas of improvement and developing performance improvement strategies. You can also use synthetic monitoring to benchmark your applications availability and performance with your historic self or against competitors. 

Grass Roots, the world’s leading provider of employee and customer engagement solutions, utilizes AlertSite to generate reports to document monitoring data.

Grass-Roots-America-Logo.jpg"We don’t alter any of the data, and we leave the SmartBear logo right on the report,” Tim says. “We want our customers to clearly see how their site performance analysis comes from SmartBear—a reputable third party that validates the accuracy of the data. Our customers find the reports easy to interpret, and we can give them high-level views with graphs that make it easy to see the results."

Tim Rohde, Manager of Information Technology for Grass Roots America

3. Prepare for the peak traffic season or a new market

Synthetic monitoring gives you a unique ability to monitor the area of your website or application which doesn’t have real user traffic yet. Imagine a new marketing campaign driving traffic to a new area of the application. Synthetic monitoring allows you to proactively simulate traffic to that area and help you ensure availability and performance. The other use case is when you are launching your services in a new geography. Synthetic monitoring enables you to check your applications performance from that geography and address performance issues, if any, before your real end users encounter them.

AlertSite allows 1-800-Flowers to monitor its e-commerce websites and applications across mutiple locations throughout the entire year. But the value of a monitoring solution like AlertSite is truly put to the test during peak holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day, where orders on the site can reach more than 120,000 during their busiest hours.

1800-flowers-logo.png"Through AlertSite we create a report to show average homepage response time, and through AlertSite’s API interface, I’m able to pull that data into a dashboard to compare against peers in the retail industry. We watch that dashboard on a daily, almost an hourly, basis as the system starts to scale. If response time varies by even a tenth of a second, I know that’s a half of dozen questions we’ll need to answer. So, AlertSite is a key indicator of performance related issues within our infrastructure, especially during the holidays."

Arnold Leap, CIO, 1-800 Flowers

4. Monitor complex transactions and business processes

Only checking availability and uptime of your APIs and applications is not sufficient when you are striving to deliver a high quality application performance. Synthetic monitoring allows you to emulate business processes or user transactions such as logging in, searching, filling form, adding items to cart and check out etc. from different geographies, and monitor their performance. You can then compare performance stats between geographies and steps in the transactions and formulate your performance improvement plans. 

DealNews utilizes AlertSites’s transactional monitoring tools to ensure customers can complete searches and purchases without performance issues.

DealNewsLogo.png"We’re all competing for consumer “eyeballs” when it comes to rendering websites in a way that makes customers want to stay and keep coming back,” says Moon, who’s group oversees the performance of the website and the application program interfaces (APIs). “We need to closely monitor page load times and know immediately if any consumers run into issues trying to interact with our site."

Brian Moon, Senior Director of Engineering, DealNews

5. Measure and Adhere to SLAs

Service level agreements are critical to modern business. No matter what side of the SLA you are, measuring and adhering to the agreed upon level of service is beneficial for both client and vendor parties. For vendors, synthetic monitoring helps understand the availability and performance limitations of the application better.  Armed with this data, vendors can set up realistic service level objectives and avoid unforeseen penalties. 

"This is typical of how we can address issues—thanks to AlertSite—before they impact customers and so we can avoid having customers report the problem to us. We include notes on such incidents as well as maintenance updates and network connectivity issues that create minor blips on the reports so our customers are aware, but they can still see just how consistently we comply with our SLAs."

Tim Rohde, Manager of Information Technology for Grass Roots America

6. Hold your 3rd party vendors accountable

Modern applications depend on multiple 3rd party components for functionality and data. The most common 3rd party integrations are CDNs, payment processing solutions, site search and recommendations plugins, business intelligence and analytics solutions etc. Synthetic monitoring enables the consumers of such 3rd party services to monitor service level objectives, performance degradations and unavailability incidents to hold the vendors accountable. 

AlertSite has also proven beneficial for monitoring the SLAs of the Content Delivery Network (CDN) companies that DealNews partners with.

"A few years ago we started receiving complaints that images and styles weren't loading fast enough for users from several northeastern states. The CDN told us there was nothing wrong, but the AlertSite baseline helped us prove the CDN was actually experiencing issues. It’s an especially important tool if you're using one of the bigger CDNs with hundreds or even thousands of locations close to end-user locations."

Brian Moon, Senior Director of Engineering, DealNews

7. Test from the end users perspective

By monitoring your website or applications at the real browser level, where all the dynamic components of your applications come together, synthetic monitoring enables you to measure the true end user experience. The monitors are run from different geographical locations, different browsers running on real internet service providers and devices. Such realistic monitoring provides insight into response time components and the end user experience metrics such as page load, DOM load, first paint and above the fold. By testing your websites and applications from the end users perspective, you can be ready for all diverse user scenarios. 

Crutchfield-Logo.png"The tool we had used simulated browsers for testing our site performance. We really wanted a better representation of what the customer actually saw in terms of performance. That was important to me."

Jeff Bingaman, Senior Director of IT, Crutchfield

Get started with synthetic monitoring

AlertSite enables you to monitor your APIs, websites, mobile, and SaaS applications from an independent network of over 340 monitoring nodes spread across the world. This independent network emulates user transactions from real browsers, various Internet Service Providers and wireless networks, so you can be ready for your users, every time, everywhere.

Try it free today.