Synthetic Monitoring

What is Synthetic Monitoring?

Synthetic monitoring, also known as active monitoring, is a technique in which software simulates the action or path that the end user will take on a website, application, or other software.

The data generated from the simulations helps identify and fix performance issues related to availability, functionality, and response time before they are encountered by the end users.

Types of Synthetic Monitoring

The most common use cases of synthetic monitoring are:

Performance Monitoring

It is the monitoring of simulated transactions to ensure that the system is meeting its performance requirements.

For instance, a website page loading in the given time frame of 2 seconds to enhance user experience.

Transaction Monitoring

This type of synthetic monitoring aims to identify and fix errors critical for the business.

For instance, ensuring that the cart checkout process is working smoothly to prevent cart abandonment.

Load Testing

This allows engineers to ensure that a system can perform even under heavy load rather than crashing due to an increase in user demand.

For example, testing an e-commerce site to ensure that it will be able to handle the surge in traffic during its end-of-season sale, without experiencing downtime or performance issues.

Application Program Interface (API) Monitoring

It helps engineers guarantee that the APIs can carry out the requests correctly. APIs handle data requests between different system components and endpoints or between different systems.

For example, monitoring that a third-party API is behaving normally when integrated with a system.

Network Monitoring

This monitoring is undertaken from the perspective of a network to test the availability and performance of a service.

Here, metrics like latency and packet loss are measured by simulating transactions from various network locations.

Mobile Monitoring

The primary objective of this type of synthetic monitoring is to test the availability and performance of mobile applications on various mobile devices as well as their operating systems.

It helps in identifying errors like slow loading times and crashes.

Benefits of Synthetic Monitoring

The numerous benefits of synthetic monitoring are:

Quick Issue Detection and Resolution 

  • Synthetic monitoring aids in proactively detecting issues in the applications, websites, or servers, facilitating quick resolution.
  • This proactive approach helps organizations avoid costly downtime and revenue loss.
  • It safeguards the organization’s goodwill from poor system performance.
  • It enables IT teams to thoroughly test and validate new system updates before implementation.

Improved System Performance and User Experience

  • Synthetic monitoring helps organizations proactively address their performance issues before they negatively affect the user experience.
  • It ensures compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • It helps in carrying out user-specific testing. For instance, an engineer might want to test the performance of special accessibility features needed by a specific user group. This ensures that the organization can meet the diverse needs of all users.

Setting Up Performance Benchmarks

  • By running a series of simulated transactions in synthetic monitoring, engineers can establish the normal behavior of the system.
  • These benchmarks help in the detection of anomalies once the system is in production.
  • Troubleshooting anomalies helps in enhancing user experience, satisfaction, and loyalty, which leads to cost savings and increased return on investment (ROI).

Challenges of Synthetic Monitoring

Some of the potential challenges in the implementation of synthetic monitoring include:

Limited Scope

Synthetic monitoring has a limited scope because it involves the testing of only those transactions that the engineers decide to simulate.

It does not involve the testing of all the requests that the end users are going to make. Therefore, untested requests might still end up triggering problems for the end users.

Increased System Load and Complexity

Adding synthetic monitoring to the process of software development introduces an additional layer of complexity.

If tests are conducted on systems simultaneously managing requests from end users, it may result in system overloading and adversely affect user experience.

Synthetic Monitoring Tools

Synthetic monitoring must be undertaken at specified intervals by applying comprehensive test scenarios to ensure its effectiveness. It must also ensure that the simulation of user behavior is realistic.

Additionally, it should involve setting up of alert system for when issues are detected. Continuous monitoring and improvement is the key to successful synthetic monitoring.