What Is End User Experience Monitoring?
End-user experience monitoring analyzes the performance of a user’s end-to-end workflow across multiple devices, networks, clouds, and applications with the goal of improving business productivity. An evolution from traditional network monitoring—which typically measures network-centric metrics and collects network logs—end-user experience monitoring measures and analyzes diverse metrics across the complete user journey.
In the traditional network model, where employees connect to the network to gain access to applications housed in the data center, it’s easy to monitor issues or outages because IT owns all the systems and tools they need visibility into. However, in today’s environment, you’re more likely to find employees working remotely and connecting to SaaS applications or internal applications residing in public and private clouds.
The increased use of cloud-delivered services and the dramatic rise in bring your own device (BYOD) and remote work leave the traditional monitoring tools with no visibility into the paths between end-users and the applications they access.
The evolution of monitoring tools
Monitoring tools began with a focus on availability and performance of infrastructure and operations in a tightly managed environment. But these tools have had to evolve in order to keep up with the dynamic needs of users on multiple devices, networks, clouds, and applications. The scope and complexity of the systems that IT needs to monitor have outgrown the tools built for the legacy model.
Modern companies are managing 25 or more monitoring tools, each taking in enormous volumes of end-user workflow data. Organizations need a faster and more efficient way to correlate disparate metrics and isolate problems related to cloud application performance, cloud-path performance, and end-user device health to ensure users are satisfied and the business remains productive.
Gartner’s Market Guide for Digital Experience Monitoring defines these new technologies as providing “visibility into the end-user experience (which applies to external customers as well as employees) as they interact with applications and related resources. These resources are increasingly cloud-based, such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS), but many maintain on-premises components as well. End-user experience monitoring spans infrastructure, applications, and business processes to enable a comprehensive view of end-user experiences and translate them into business outcomes.”
Now that user experience metrics are a key performance indicator for enterprises, IT leaders need measurements beyond the typical response time, availability, and uptime. The post-pandemic workforce will remain more distributed and remote, limiting IT leaders’ visibility into endpoint, connectivity, and application performance. This leaves organizations vulnerable to issues that are beyond their control, such as those originating with an internet service provider (ISP) or with home Wi-Fi.
Why monitoring has to evolve further
In today’s enterprise, the majority of traffic is heading to cloud destinations, and all that traffic travels over the internet. How can IT monitor end-to-end performance over a network it doesn’t control?
The IT team’s lack of control over user-to-SaaS and cloud application paths creates monitoring blind spots. Furthermore, companies use many different clouds. They may use Microsoft 365, Workday, Salesforce, and Zoom, and they may have SAP applications in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Oracle databases in Azure. Each of these services provides its own performance monitoring, which creates silos of information and fragmented data.
“SaaS providers’ monitoring of their own services fails to provide visibility of performance or experience from the user’s perspective, leaving customers in the dark and putting the organization’s business at risk. They are often late in admitting a failure that has already caused user impact,” as noted in Gartner’s Market Guide for Digital Experience Monitoring.
Organizations need actionable performance metrics related to the end-user experience. Instrumentation—the ability to gather network, application, or system data—is a big challenge when applications sit in the cloud and users sit outside the network perimeter. With the internet as the corporate network and the cloud as the data center, legacy monitoring tools cannot see what they cannot instrument.
What enterprise IT needs
Enterprises must have visibility into all the traffic connecting to all the assets in their distributed network. Traditional monitoring relies heavily on branch-to-data-center models that use perimeter-based security—neither of which adapt well to internet-based transport, cloud-based applications, and work-from-anywhere users.
Gartner offers this guidance to IT leaders in the Market Guide for Digital Experience Monitoring: “Fundamentally, digital experience monitoring (DEM) must be a key component of a holistic IT monitoring strategy spanning the infrastructure, applications, and network that generate data as well as the analytics to make sense of that data.” End-user experience monitoring adapts to the new ways of work to deliver a better visibility model.
- Uninterrupted, end-to-end visibility into the end-user device, network path, and application performance for comprehensive user experience insights
- Improved mean-time-to-detection and remediation to reduce the cost of application downtime
- The ability to proactively detect, troubleshoot, and diagnose end-user experience issues
Three key advantages of cloud-delivered end-user experience monitoring
End-user experience monitoring solutions fill in the visibility gaps that traditional monitoring tools overlook and allow for both network teams and security teams to leverage the same data in order to optimize the end-user experience. However, choosing a good solution is more than just filling in gaps in visibility.
Instead of checking off a list of features, enterprise CIOs and CISOs must consider strategic context and evaluate how a user experience monitoring solution is going to integrate with the company’s overarching transformation journey. Enterprises must verify that their solution offers the following:
- A deep understanding of the end user’s identity and context. Most solutions have only a basic understanding of the end-user based upon an IP address. Solutions that capture an end-user’s office location, physical location, department, and other contextual information provide much more useful context in monitoring workflows. Tools can integrate with an identity provider like Okta or Azure AD to capture contextual user identity data.
- An integrated and multipurpose agent. A solution should do more than just monitor. Enterprises suffering from “agent fatigue” should consider solutions that are integrated components of the overall security architecture, with a lightweight agent that provides monitoring, advanced threat protection, and zero trust network access (ZTNA). The solution should employ a highly scalable, cloud-based ingestion and analytics engine to derive both performance and security insights from the data.
- Visibility to both network and security teams. Improving user experience is a shared goal among network and security teams, yet both teams tend to operate independently. Solutions that provide a common dashboard to both teams improve efficiency in triaging and diagnosing performance issues.