Blog Post

Bridging the gap: Integrating network and application monitoring for complete visibility

Discover how integrating network and application monitoring enhances performance, speeds up issue resolution, and offers full visibility across your tech stack.

As technology progresses and applications become more intertwined, sticking to the old ways of monitoring networks separately just doesn’t cut it anymore. Network and application teams often work in silos, using different tools and focusing on different goals. This split approach frequently leaves both sides with a piecemeal understanding of issues, making it challenging to pinpoint and fix problems that span both areas.  

Integrating network and application monitoring is crucial to achieving fast issue resolution and substantial performance gains.

In the customer case study below, discover how combining both disciplines led to:

  • faster MTTR
  • 2x improved application load time
  • 3x improved Time to First Byte (TTFB)

Case study: Uniting network and application monitoring

During a proof-of-concept engagement with a client, the tech operations team received an urgent email about an app running painfully slowly for some users in the office. The first thing the team did was dive straight into checking the network, even though no one had explicitly complained about the network. No one had said, “Hey, the app is slow due to the network.”

This immediate assumption shows the typical mindset: if something is slow, it must be the network. The network is ALWAYS the first thing that gets blamed! The team began scrutinizing their network and routers, overlooking that the original problem statement was that the app itself was slow – a SaaS app hosted on AWS, using a CDN.

That’s when Catchpoint decided to take a closer look using the full capabilities of our Internet Performance Monitoring (IPM) platform. We onboarded the sluggish SaaS application in question and started gathering valuable insights into the application’s performance from various vantage points, including our backbone locations in the region.

Within minutes of running checks, it became apparent that the latency was not specific to our client’s internal network but a global issue affecting users accessing the application externally.

With this crucial information, we shifted our focus from the network to the application itself.

As we continued to monitor the application’s performance, we identified two key issues:

  1. oversized JavaScript files
  2. misconfigured CDN caching

These issues were causing significant delays in loading the application, particularly for static objects that were not being cached effectively. We then contacted the SaaS vendor and provided them with actionable insights to rectify the issues.

The vendor made the necessary changes within a few hours, and the impact was immediate. Application load times plummeted from around 30+ seconds down to around 15 seconds. Even more impressive was the dramatic improvement in Time to First Byte TTFB, which improved from 1.535 seconds to 0.568 seconds—a nearly threefold increase. We’re continuing to work on further improvements, much to the relief of users and the tech operations team alike.

From the Catchpoint Portal:

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Screenshot from Catchpoint WebPageTest showing before and after:

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This experience underscores the importance of taking a holistic approach to monitoring and troubleshooting. By combining network and application performance monitoring, we quickly identified and resolved the core issue, achieving significant performance gains.  

Key Recommendations

#1 - End the silos

Keeping network and application monitoring apart in today’s tech landscape just doesn’t make sense. Most network issues aren’t about the network at all. Human errors cause about 80% of network failures, with hardware and environmental issues less common.

By knocking down these silos, we see the entire Internet Stack: not just the network or the app, but everything from CDNs to DNS issues. This integrated approach helps detect and solve problems faster.  

#2 - Shared responsibility

It’s all about teamwork.

When network and application teams join forces, they stop playing the blame game. Each issue—whether a slow-loading app or a network glitch—is everyone’s to tackle. This cooperation not only speeds up problem-solving but also helps everyone understand the big picture, from top-level application performance down to nitty-gritty network metrics. This shared view turns “your problem” into “our challenge,” enhancing the workflow and the workplace atmosphere.

#3 - Access and correlate data across teams

Using a monitoring platform that allows both network and application teams to access and correlate data can bridge the gap between their respective domains.

Even though team members may not have full understanding of each other’s disciplines, seeing data in correlation breaks down silos and reduces the tendency for finger-pointing. Instead of blaming one another, all teams can analyze specific data trends collectively and work towards resolving issues collaboratively.

Moving towards a unified monitoring strategy

As organizations strive to deliver exceptional digital experiences to their users, breaking down the barriers between network monitoring and application delivery is imperative. Some companies preach that the best way to do this is to have one magic tool that does everything. But does such a tool really exist? Flow data, for example, is incredibly useful for network engineers, but when you combine it with IPM, now you have a best-of-breed solution.

Flow data is like security footage. It captures real-time activities, showing who’s accessing what and when. It’s invaluable for seeing real-time user interactions and identifying issues as they happen. However, this approach is reactive, similar to reviewing security footage to understand what went wrong after an incident occurred.  

On the other hand, synthetic monitoring tools, like those from Catchpoint, act like security guards, performing regular checks and proactively looking for issues. Imagine a guard checking a room every five minutes; they are more likely to catch a thief than relying on a camera that records the theft but doesn’t prevent it. Catchpoint’s IPM continuously monitors the entire Internet Stack so you can pinpoint exactly where issues are and fix them before they impact users. 

Moreover, all of this data is available via API, meaning you don't have to use the Catchpoint portal as your main monitoring tool. If you have another preferred tool, you can integrate our data into it via API, enhancing its effectiveness. While there may not be 'one' magic monitoring tool, Catchpoint can enhance any tool to make it far more effective.

This is the strength of a unified monitoring strategy: it breaks down silos and combines the best of both worlds. This approach not only reduces MTTR for an issue but also fosters a culture of collaboration and teamwork. With no war rooms or conflicts, engineers can focus on delivering optimal digital experiences, leading to happier customers and employees.  

To learn more about Catchpoint IPM, check out our guided product tour or schedule a chat with our solution engineers.

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