The secret to building a killer Web Performance Monitoring strategy
Synthetic Web performance monitoring (where agents deployed in multiple locations simulate end-users and continuously report back on health, availability and performance) is a great way to find and resolve problems before large volumes of users are impacted. Building a killer Web performance monitoring strategy (could include~monitoring Java applications,~.NET application monitoring~or~Ruby on Rails monitoring)~requires proper planning, cross-functional alignment and a dose of diplomacy to build collaboration. For example, do you have upcoming marketing campaigns targeting new regions? Are you moving to the cloud or changing infrastructure providers? Are you updating your Website functionality or embedding new 3rd-party components such as Web tracking analytics, Marketo integration, Social Media widgets, and so on? You have to understand not only your current Website architecture, but also future development, IT and business plans as well.
Here are some quick pointers to help you get started and foster cross-functional communication.
#1: Get all stakeholders together (Development, QA, IT, upper management, business owners and marketing teams) to get buy-in and consensus. Bring to the meeting key information such as development/QA plans, Web analytics reports (Google or other marketing metrics), business and marketing plans, as well as IT Ops requirements. A couple of quick pointers to cut-down the number of meetings: Make sure all stakeholders are clear on what the meeting will entail, so they can involve team members as needed, and keep the meeting brief and to the point.
#2: Identify key Web functions and critical Web transactions to monitor on a 24x7x365 basis. For example: new app code, marketing registration forms, shopping carts, Salesforce record retrieval, HR functions, etc. Focus first on those transactions that drive Web revenue and enable your business operations. Don't forget to monitor top paths followed in your Website (your marketing analytics will have this information)
#3: Define worldwide monitoring locations. Here your marketing analytics will come handy again. Consider key countries and locations from where your customers or internal end-users are currently coming. Don't forget to take into consideration upcoming geo-targeted marketing campaigns, or future expansion plans in new regions.
#4: Discuss polling frequencies. You should monitor mission-critical Web pages and transactions more often since your revenue and brand will be more severely impacted when they slow down or underperform.
#5: Define types of problems that should trigger an alert (response time violations, content accuracy failures, error warnings or just website outages, SLA violations.) as well as alerting and escalation policies. Key points to discuss with your peers
- Ownerships based on the types of problems
- Information to attach to your alerts
- How to handle alerting for underperforming 3rd-party components and services outside your control
While Web speed is critical don't focus exclusively on response time violations. Content checking capabilities can help you identify hacked Web content or critical database record retrieval failures much faster. Plus you should also measure levels of user satisfaction with your Website via Apdex Scores.
#6. Discuss your reporting strategy. Since different metrics are important for different audiences, take the time to map out role-based reports with custom information for each team. Plan to automatically distribute reports later on (daily, weekly or monthly basis) to keep everybody informed and aligned.
#7: Define your Web performance benchmarking strategy. Your competitors are working hard to optimize their performance and so should you. Identify critical competitors and peers and compare how your Web performance stacks up over time. That way you can setup realistic Web performance optimization goals if needed later on.
#8: Periodically get together with all stakeholders at least once every 1-2 months to review your Web performance metrics and make informed business decisions (e.g. Web performance optimization, capacity planning, Web monitoring plans, etc). For example, if your website is slower when accessed from a key targeted geography, work on a remediation plan (e.g. Content Delivery Network) prior to launching your marketing campaign, before you drive additional traffic to your Website. Your success hinges on cross-departmental alignment so keep the communications flowing and your monitoring plans up-to-date.
Good luck and happy cross-functional team building!