Changes In Technology: How Catchpoint Monitors And Observes The Internet, From 2008 To Today

News & Trends

Last month, Catchpoint celebrated its 13th birthday, a milestone which has us feeling more than a little nostalgic. As we embark on our teenage years as a company, we have also been looking back and reflecting on all the changes the world of technology has seen since Catchpoint was “born” back in 2008.  

Screenshot from Catchpoint's portal in 2013. (Catchpoint)
2013 Screenshot from Catchpoint's portal. (Catchpoint)

The world looks very different today than it did at our founding and, for that matter, so do we!

From 1.5 Billion To Over 5 Billion Internet Users

Catchpoint has always been in the business of measuring the Internet. However, that was a very different project at our inception, back in 2008.  

At that time, there were around 1.5 billion Internet users, as compared to over 5 billion today. The web was mostly accessed via desktop or laptop computers, and the most popular web browser was Internet Explorer (times really have changed, haven’t they?).  

In 2008, the Internet’s first major revolution, known as Web 2.0, was still in its infancy. Web 2.0 refers to the transition from unidirectional websites, where users simply download or read content, to bidirectional websites like Facebook and YouTube. With bidirectional sites, users are also publishers, continually adding their own content to the site.

The Introduction Of HTML5

Catchpoint’s birth year also saw the introduction of HTML5, which would lead to even more radical changes during Catchpoint’s early years.  

In 2010, Ethan Marcotte published his seminal paper, “Responsive Web Design,” which described a new way of creating interactive web applications. This, in combination with the broad adoption of HTML5 later in the decade, would revolutionize web design.  

Up to that point, most websites consisted of static pages which would simply load some pre-defined text and images. Interactivity was limited. In order to display new data in response to a user action, the whole page had to be refreshed or you had to navigate to a new page entirely.  

2013 Screenshot from Catchpoint's portal. (Catchpoint)
2013 Screenshot from Catchpoint's portal. (Catchpoint)

With responsive web design, buttons and forms on web pages caused embedded scripts to run, instantly updating the page. This enabled the creation of the powerful Single-Page Applications that we take for granted today.

For Catchpoint, this meant that it was no longer sufficient to simply measure the amount of time it took to load a web page. We had to begin detecting and monitoring the performance of these scripted interactions as well. User expectations also changed – pages needed to behave more like desktop applications, with instant responsiveness and a wider range of functionality at the user’s fingertips. This created an even greater need for proactive insights into performance issues.

The Move To eCommerce

Do you remember the first time you bought something online? Depending on your age, this might always have seemed normal. For some of us, however, this was once a completely novel and even slightly scary experience.  

That said, by 2012, ecommerce sales had ballooned to over 1 trillion dollars, and people’s expectations for online stores had changed. Businesses could no longer afford to have a slow, unresponsive web store, or a shopping cart that lost its contents. When something like that happened, savvy shoppers would simply take their business to a competitor.  

Websites were no longer just a source of information or entertainment – they had become a critical way for many organizations to do business and generate revenue. This transition has become even more pronounced today, when the pandemic has encouraged many people to grow their online shopping and business habits. Even though some people have returned to in-person stores and offices, the move to shopping online and business interactions doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

This makes it even more critical to be able to quickly respond to latencies and outages, regardless of their origin.

Early Catchpoint icons. (Catchpoint)
Early Catchpoint icons. (Catchpoint)

The Rise Of The Smartphone And The Smartphone App

Another major shift during Catchpoint’s early years was the rise of the smartphone and, of course, the smartphone app.  

Apple and Google both launched their respective app platforms the year that Catchpoint was founded. As apps became more common and increasingly complex, the big monolithic applications of old began breaking up into distributed micro-services. These micro-services were all communicating among each other via APIs to produce the rich experiences users had come to expect.  

The combination of these trends meant that we had to be able to monitor each and every API and microservice in order to see where in the service delivery chain an issue might be occurring.

Data Gets Ever Closer To The User

Meanwhile, the need for instant gratification means that data keeps getting pushed closer and closer to the user. CDNs, serverless compute, and other similar technologies try to put the data in the same region, or even the same city, as the user.  

In the past, it was sufficient to test solely from the Internet backbone. Applications were hosted from giant datacenters. If an application was slow, it didn't matter where it was measured. However,  with edge compute, one user might see drastically different performance than another user only a few miles away!  

We have responded to this shift by growing our Last Mile and Wireless observer fleet significantly in recent years. In this way, we can ensure our customers can see the performance that their users see. We are continually reassessing how we can monitor at the ever growing edge What’s more, we will soon be introducing observers in edge networks, bringing observability even closer to the mobile user’s device.  

The Rapid Growth Of Internet Access Worldwide

As Catchpoint has grown up, we have also been watching the rapid growth of Internet access in emerging markets around the world.  

Internet access, rather than being a first-world privilege, has become an essential part of life almost everywhere. This makes it essential to monitor application performance from a wide range of geographic locations. You can no longer assume that if your site is performing well for users in one region, it will be working fine everywhere else as well.  

Catchpoint has continually expanded its global reach. We have also built out the industry’s leading worldwide fleet of Active Test Observers to meet this growing global demand.

2021: More Than 35 Billion IoT Users And Counting

Another trend that has altered the landscape of the Web is the Internet of Things (IoT). More devices of all sorts (appliances, sensors, cameras, vehicles, etc.) are now connected directly to the Internet. In fact, the number of IoT devices now dwarfs the number of human internet users, at over 35 billion! Monitoring, observing, and proactively resolving any issues with these types of devices has become vital to many businesses, and Catchpoint has developed IoT-specific monitors to meet this need.

The Future Is Here!

Stay tuned for more major technology trends and event coverage in the coming weeks. We make it a priority to stay on the cutting edge and incorporate forward-looking views and ideas into our innovative technology.

Meanwhile, we’ve enjoyed taking a moment to consider the many changes and opportunities that Catchpoint has been inspired by. Over the years, we’ve learned, grown, and changed, and what a fun and interesting ride it has been and continues to be! We are excited about what the next 13 years will bring. Join us for the journey – it's going to be an amazing ride!

Want to know more about our history and what’s coming up next in the monitoring and observability space? Check out our Co-Founders Q&A To Celebrate Our 13th Birthday.

Published on
Oct 28, 2021
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