Find and Fix: Website Monitoring as a Service

Website monitoring can take many forms and is often an afterthought…..until something happens and you find out afterwards it has negatively affected your organization’s brand or more likely, revenue.

As a student at National University in San Diego, I recently had an opportunity to lead a class discussion focused on monitoring as a service (MAAS), with a close examination of Neustar’s Web Performance Management (WPM) platform.  If you aren’t already familiar with MAAS, the service can be boiled down to a few simple words: with MAAS, you have proven tools to find and fix website issues before they affect customers.

What is Monitoring as a Service (MAAS)?

What is MAAS?  Does it mean different things to different people?  Is it watching your web server logs to look for strange system behavior?  Or monitoring users’ activity and how they interact with the site?  Is MAAS more about security and keeping an eye out for unauthorized behavior?  What about keeping an eye on the website to verify the site is up and all pages are responding as designed?

Monitoring is much more than just security; it is about keeping an eye on your website and being proactively notified of problems and/or starting the process to fix them.  I think it’s a safe assumption we cannot sit and watch any website 24×7. We have these silly little things called “lives.” Let’s let the “machines” keep an eye on our websites for us and take advantage of what technology has to offer.

Neustar’s ‘Find and Fix’ MAAS Tools

There is a common misconception that if a website isn’t loading it is “down.”  That isn’t always the case.  This can also mean the site is slow to respond, critical elements do not appear on the page, or — worse yet — the site shows an error has occurred.

As everyone knows, errors happen any time during the day.  (Of course, they have a very bad habit of happening in the middle of the night when we’re all sound asleep) On occasion, there can even be a significant delay between the time an error occurs and the time the problem is uncovered.  I know of one instance where the site for a security company was down and it wasn’t until a customer called to complain six hours later the engineers fixed the site.

MAAS can solve those problems.

The Neustar Web Performance team is passionate about MAAS, specifically two powerful “find and fix” tools it provides.

MAAS TOOL #1:Synthetic Monitoring

Through our first tool, synthetic monitoring, Neustar has servers throughout the world hitting our customers’ websites at set intervals.  These servers run a virtual windows desktop.  Using Selenium or Ruby’s Watir, we take control of the web browser and verify that the site is up.

Our tests also include searching for keywords and ensuring that no errors appear.  Page timings, screenshots and page asset attributes are logged and returned to our system where they are evaluated and reported to the user.  If, at any time, something goes wrong, we are alerted by phone, voice or text message.

MAAS TOOL #2: Real User Measurement

Synthetic monitoring a fantastic tool, but there are limits.  Even with 100 locations throughout the world hitting a website, being able to obtain more regional information would be beneficial.  Through Real User Measurement (RUM) we can obtain a reflection of how the user interacts with the website and get a sense of the  “human” feel to the site.  RUM is not monitoring how you interact with the site, it’s how the site interacts with you.

Why is this important?  Website performance affects any online company’s bottom line.  According to this recent article by Mashable, Amazon found that for every 100 milliseconds they shaved off their page time, their revenues increased by one percent.

Looking ahead: In my next post I’ll discuss how Neustar website monitoring is giving customers a jumpstart on “fix,” with rules-based remediation that starts as soon as alerts go out.

dot Find and Fix: Website Monitoring as a Service
Pauljames Dimitriu

About Pauljames Dimitriu

Pauljames has over 15 years of programming experience in many different companies, ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies to the United States Navy. Currently Pauljames is a Software Engineer here at Neustar, responsible for developing and maintaining Neustar’s Webmetrics and Web Performance Management Platforms. Pauljames holds a BS in Computer Engineering from UCSD and is currently pursuing his Masters degree.

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