Blog Post

Digital Experience Monitoring Platform: You Get What You Pay For

Avoid the traps of bargain hunting and learn how to test for quality and accuracy when deciding upon a Digital Experience Monitoring Platform.

I admit that I’m thrifty and hate “premium brand” prices; many of us do. I just can’t justify paying a higher price purely because of the popularity of the logo and nothing else. That said, I do value great quality. I will pay a premium for a well-crafted, well-engineered product that I truly need. This is true in my personal and professional life. I’ve seen companies willing to make investments in quality solutions, and in some cases, make decisions based on price only. If you are in the business of delivering a digital service to a user (a customer, employee, or partner), I must assume that you strive to deliver a quality experience to your users. As you are evaluating various Digital Experience Monitoring Platforms, “quality” must be the main evaluation criteria.

The decision-making process

In any purchase decision, there is a level of risk. We try and minimize that risk by researching, testing and evaluating prior to purchasing and comparing it to other offers. For most casual purchases, making a bad decision or simply getting unlucky with a choice you made is not catastrophic.

Other decisions, however, like choosing a healthcare insurer for your family, a school for your kids, a pediatrician, a hospital for surgery, or an employer, obviously have significant life implications.

Business purchases carry significant risks too. In many cases, the implications can be substantial for the company; make a wrong purchase and the impact could be irreversible, or at least very difficult to recover from.

Choosing the right tools that help you take care of customers and deliver great customer experience is more important than ever. In this digital world of immediacy and overwhelming choice, you can lose a customer in milliseconds. A single bad experience with a call-center agent (“I am sorry, but our system has crashed, and I can’t access your file”) or one very slow eCommerce transaction (

example of bad experience avoided by digital experience monitoring platform

) is all it can take to lose a customer for life.

One way of reminding ourselves of the importance of a business purchasing decision is to make it feel more personal by asking yourself, “What would I do if this were my money?”

  • Would I accept mediocre quality?
  • Would I tolerate a service that did not meet my expectations?
  • Would I avoid firing a vendor because finding a replacement would be too hard?
  • Would I accept a vendor or product recommendation from my team without proper due diligence?

Of course not!

If your business revenue is dependent on providing digital services to customers or employees over the Internet, you care deeply about their experience, satisfaction, and in the case of employees, their productivity. You strive to provide them with a service that is better than your competitor. You want to provide quality, reliability, and consistency.

Delivering service quality and the finest user experience requires the best monitoring solution

So how do you that? You aim to control the delivery environment by choosing monitoring solutions that provide the visibility needed to verify service performance and reliability. You want to ensure that it meets or exceeds user expectations by detecting issues quickly, ideally before they can impact the user experience.

Today’s services and apps are vastly distributed across data centers and public clouds, including SaaS. Customers are global and employees are increasingly mobile. The environment you need to control is immense, and today’s application delivery chain is more complex than ever before.

The environment between your customers, employees, and the services you deliver is not something that traditional monitoring tools can handle because they rely on collecting telemetry from the environment you control (i.e. your local area network, the apps hosted in your data center, your branch office routers, etc.). Even doing that is not easy; traditional enterprise monitoring telemetry is expensive and complex.

Even worse, these tools offer no visibility into your Internet network, service provider, CDN, or DNS, and for the most part cannot tell you precisely what the user is experiencing on their device or browser. Digital Experience Monitoring Platforms, which combine synthetic monitoring, real user monitoring (RUM), and endpoint monitoring capabilities do a better job at shedding a light on the user and your Internet-based services. But there are still problems.

Not every Digital Experience Monitoring platform is created equal

We have established that the modern digital services and delivery environment is vast and complex. You need visibility from the right tools, and you need more data and results from places that your traditional monitoring tools can’t collect, monitor, or analyze. In fact, you don’t need more data. You need more ACCURATE data and results.

Digital Experience Monitoring Platform Data Accuracy Chart

Receiving a boatload of garbage (a.k.a. false positives) from your Digital Experience Monitoring platform is the least useful solution. In fact, it’s often worse than receiving no data. False positives are the number one problem for monitoring leaders and IT practitioners. They are highly disruptive, wasteful, and downright hurt the bottom line for any business.

Let me further expand on why Catchpoint’s Digital Experience Monitoring platform is like no other in the industry and how its vast breadth, sophisticated design, and scalable architecture will give you the quality and accuracy you need.

Catchpoint DEM delivers the most complete, diverse, and accurate monitoring results

True quality cannot be cheap. It takes effort, time, pain, blood, sweat, and tears to build a high quality, meticulously engineered monitoring solution that delivers accurate results you can trust. There are four components that contribute to accurate monitoring results:

1. Scalable monitoring architecture

Catchpoint’s monitoring network is designed to be scalable and fully fault-tolerant. Our ever-growing number of stateless nodes are currently distributed across 825 global locations and managed by a proprietary architecture, which is 100% operated by Catchpoint. Individual nodes are managed by regional command and control centers configured in a mesh configuration for redundancy. The command and control centers feed data into a core data center which is hosted in the Switch SuperNAP 7, a certified Tier IV Constructed Facility (the highest tier possible, offering best-in-class availability). The core data center accumulates and analyzes data in real-time from all global locations.

Catchpoint Digital Experience Monitoring Platform Hierarchy

Catchpoint monitors, analyzes, and correlates vast amounts of multi-protocol, multi-domain, synthetic, real user, and endpoint device data. This data is stored in memory in a proprietary NoSQL database that is fine-tuned for storing and processing temporal monitoring and graph data. Catchpoint engineers designed this database from the ground up because an off-the-shelf database couldn’t handle the task.

A robust monitoring footprint was added, expanding coverage without compromising on overall system performance and avoiding the need for system rearchitecting. Our overall network can scale incrementally, making it cost-effective and avoiding customer price hikes due to uneven infrastructure cost increases. The Catchpoint portal provides customers with real-time insights derived from any part of our global monitoring infrastructure. Furthermore, Catchpoint’s system design prevents cross-customer performance impacts. The demands of one customer’s test load will never impact another customer that is utilizing the same regional infrastructure.

2. Proper hardware provisioning and utilization

When it comes to performance, there is no substitute for horsepower and proper utilization of resources. An over-utilized hardware resource will affect the performance of the software running on it. Conversely, under-provisioned hardware will also greatly affect the performance of the software. In both cases, the net result is the same: the test measurements will be erroneous.

The Catchpoint Digital Experience Monitoring Platform is architected to completely avoid hardware overprovisioning and node overcapacity. Resource utilization thresholds are set at very conservative levels and our software is abstracted from the hardware to avoid hardware dependency.

Catchpoint Architecture diagram

3. The highest quality of monitoring locations

Similar to the hosting locations of its core data center, all Catchpoint monitoring infrastructure is hosted in top tier data center facilities around the globe (TIER III or IV). This ensures the highest levels of availability (four 9s guaranteed availability). All U.S. monitoring locations are hosted in Equinix data centers. In addition, Catchpoint deploys dedicated, single-homed connections to TIER I carriers that are the primary transit or backbone providers in each location/region.

In contrast, other vendors “share” multi-homed connections to lower-tier providers in order to minimize costs. Unfortunately, these lower costs typically come at the expense of measurement quality and reliability. Using shared, multi-homed, lower-tier connections means a lack of routing control, which makes benchmarking very difficult; i.e. you can’t benchmark the performance of specific ISP routes between a location and a service as you are not in control of the routing between them. The bottom line: when it comes to the quality of monitoring locations, you truly get what you pay for.

DEM Carrier Tier Comparison Diagram

4. The highest quality of engineering, QA, and support

When it comes to the quality of monitoring analysis, there is no substitute for meticulously engineered software, thoroughly tested code, and best-in-class operations. Badly architected code, poor QA processes, and weak operations will impact the quality of results, undoubtedly resulting in false positives and generating high costs for development teams, IT departments, and the overall business.

Catchpoint has invested well over a decade into continuous development and testing of its software platform. During this time, we have gained invaluable experience from collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data from some of the world’s most complex and distributed environments, leading us to enjoy the best quality of results in the industry.

Designing, building, and operating the world’s largest monitoring network (from scratch) has taught us a thing or two about operational excellence; from continually adding nodes, extending capacity, expanding geo-coverage, continually monitoring and verifying the accuracy of results…it is a process of excellence that sets Catchpoint apart from any other monitoring vendor. Note that Catchpoint Support has won Stevie Awards two years in a row.

If you want to deliver the highest quality to your customers and employees, you need to rely on a top-quality monitoring solution to help you do so. If you think this all sounds too good to be true, try us out for free and sign up for a trial.

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