The Performance Beacon

The web performance, analytics, and optimization blog

Front-end Monitoring: Why back-end monitoring isn’t enough

data on front end and backend performance monitoring

These days, back-end performance for most sites has been optimized and is resilient to scaling issues or traffic. Today, the shift in attention needs to be at the front end — where customer experience matters.

Back-end monitoring is important, but…

When traditional APM vendors state their capabilities, they lead with back-end infrastructure and then work outwards toward the user via synthetic or real user monitoring. This is done as a means to drill down to application or server-side metrics. APM tools seek to detect and diagnose complex back-end application performance problems — monitoring back-end resources used by the application, such as CPU, memory, or application threads — and then use synthetic monitoring or sampled real-user measurements as an afterthought to measure results.

Customer experience and conversion impact has taken priority in modern devops practices, which has shifted the thinking for IT executives and business stakeholders. For example, consider this question, which is not answered by traditional synthetic back-end monitoring: If load is reduced by 10-50% on the back-end, did this actually have a positive impact for your visitors?

READ: Conversion Impact Score: What is it? And why do you need to know yours?

Real user monitoring catches blind spots that synthetic measurement can miss

Modern apps depend on distributed systems and third party content and services. Fixing back-end performance problems will not solve performance problems caused by issues such as:

  • third party resources on a web page,
  • geographic response time problems, or
  • device- and browser-specific issues.

READ: 10 pro tips for managing the performance of your third-party scripts

Sampling data only gives you some of the answers

Using data samples is good for benchmarking and availability. But if you want to do real analysis and remediation, you need all your real user data, all the time. This is especially true if you want to do predictive analysis.

predictive analytics

READ: Performance Monitoring 101: A beginner’s guide to understanding synthetic and real user monitoring

How SOASTA RUM complements traditional APM and synthetic measurement

SOASTA’s modern approach to monitoring real user experience is the true test of ensuring everything works. By collecting your front-end performance monitoring data from real user experiences, you can make informed decisions about what to optimize, prioritizing those pages that make the biggest impact on your user experience — and ultimately on your business’s bottom line.

Try mPulse real user measurement for free

Connie Quach

About the Author

Connie Quach

Connie Quach is VP Product Marketing at SOASTA. Connie is a frequent industry speaker in the mobile and web perf community. She also organizes the San Diego Web Performance Meetup group, a vendor-neutral professional networking organization dedicated to web and mobile performance management. Connie has been in the technology space for over 15 years, managing products from cradle to grave. She holds a business degree from California Polytechnic Pomona and a graduate degree from California State University, San Marcos; Certified Scrum Product Owner and Pragmatic Marketing Alumni.

Follow @connie9888