App performance management must start from users

Companies tracking the performance of their Web sites or mobile apps should not focus only on monitoring their backend systems as they might miss out on other causes which affect performance.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Companies tracking the performance of their Web sites or mobile apps via application performance management (APM) tools should start from the end-user's side, and not focus only on monitoring their backend systems or they might overlook the root cause of performance issues.

At a media briefing here Thursday, Koh Eng Kiong, Asean regional director at Compuware, said companies usually monitor the performance at the data center, but the performance of Web site can be slowed down by other issues such as the network with which the user browses, third-party widgets on the site, or even miscellaneous items on the Web page.

Koh noted an incident where the Facebook "Like" feature had caused several of its customers' Web sites to load slower than usual because it was making several requests to Facebook's servers.

Companies will be able to fix the problem if they know the root cause, he said. But without context from the user's side, the business might think low service levels are caused by its infrastructure and upgrade their bandwidth or storage when this will not solve the root cause of the issue, he noted.

One way Compuware monitors performance from the user's end is through its global network of testing locations, Koh said. This give an understanding of whether a user from a particular geographic location, the Internet service provider, content delivery network (CDN) and so on, are facing issues with loading the site or app, he explained.

Companies not proactive in monitoring
Jerry Tan, Asean marketing manager at Compuware Asia, said companies often assume their Web sites are performing fine and wait for complaints from users to roll in before checking to determine if there are problems with the data center where the Web site is hosted.

However, Koh said less than 10 percent of users would make complaints directly to the company if they encounter a problem with its Web site. Thus, the company could lose potential business from the rest of the 90 percent who might chose to work with other companies upon encountering problems with the site, he said.

Such issues will also damage the corporate brand as users are more likely to make complaints on public channels such as social media, he added.

Shabbir Baliwala, Asean solutions director at Compuware, noted as more companies move their Web site platforms to public clouds, dependency on the cloud provider increases.

Citing a Compuware research published in January, Baliwala said 44 percent of Web transactions of the top 50 retailers have dependency on Amazon Web Services' EC2 cloud. This means these retailers will be impacted if Amazon suffers an outage, he said.

He noted with proactive monitoring of visitors to the site, companies will know if the cloud provider is encountering problems and prepare for customer complaints or find alternatives.
Koh said monitoring users applies to both desktop and mobile access to Web sites and mobile apps, but companies often neglect the performance of a mobile app as they rush to push out their app to users as quickly as possible.

Baliwala added that user's tolerance level for mobile sites or apps are lower than the desktop. Thus, it is important companies ensure their mobile apps perform well, he said.

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