Blog Post

It's Time for Observability Built for a Digital World

Today marks the start of a new chapter at Catchpoint, as we launch our digital experience observability platform. In this post we'll be sharing some of the wider contextual factors for this launch.

Today marks the start of a new chapter at Catchpoint, as we launch our digital experience observability platform. In this post, we’ll share with you some of the wider contextual factors driving this launch, as well as how the continuous evolution of our platform supports a massive market need.  

The extent to which we live and work online today is eye-opening, particularly compared with pre-COVID-19 times. In 2019, it wouldn’t have occurred to me that I would have all my doctor visits via video calls. Today, it’s mainstream. Meanwhile, a significant portion of the workforce works from home - in many cases, permanently. Indeed, a hybrid workforce will likely remain a mainstay forever. It sometimes seems as though the Amazon truck drives down the street every fifteen minutes, and online video streaming and gaming has exploded.

An increased IT challenge

These online amenities all look effortless and easy — unless you happen to be responsible for ensuring their healthy and continuous operation.  While consumers and workers expect a flawless experience, operations and production teams must successfully deliver those services across an ever-changing and extraordinarily complex digital chain of infrastructure, networks, and services. And in a digital world, failures or delays pose existential business risk. There are several factors driving this increased IT challenge:

  • The pandemic added rocket fuel to digital transformation plans, to the point where we expect to see 23 percent growth across public cloud and software as a service (SaaS) offerings in 2022.  
  • Then there’s the growth of remote-access strategies, such as SASE architecture that combines security and optimized network performance, driving a need for independent observability that preserves great user experience regardless of location.  
  • Meanwhile, the astonishing growth of 5G and multi-access edge compute means that people need to continually better understand and support user experience at the edge.  

And organizations must somehow find a way to see across all these layers.

A diagram made up of four iOS devices to represent access to Catchpoint features 'User Experience, Networks, Applications'

Enter observability

What this ultimately adds up to is a sea change in how we can best deliver our services to our customers. Instead of thinking in terms of monitoring, we have started to think about what we do at Catchpoint in terms of end-to-end observability, with the goal of producing answers to problems vs. producing metrics.

At Catchpoint, we define Digital Experience Observability as the methodology that eliminates blind spots and prevents outages that negatively impact your users’ digital experience. Our observability platform transforms observed telemetry data from the entire digital delivery chain into preventative actions.

Traditionally, practitioners use monitoring tools to uncover problems by collecting metrics from various single domain sources and comparing them against predefined thresholds. For example, storage levels shouldn’t exceed a certain threshold; if they do, an alert is sent so IT can investigate what’s happening.  Conversely, observability takes a more holistic approach that adds context by examining multiple outputs of the system to infer system health. For example, suppose you were trying to gauge a car’s condition. In that case, traditional monitoring might track engine temperature or idle speed RPMs, while observability would examine things like power output, engine leaks, transmission noise, emissions, and fuel efficiency to infer the car’s overall health from an overview perspective.   

Observability gives you answers – in context – about the health and performance of your digital assets. This means you should be obtaining telemetry data from across the end-to-end digital service supply and delivery chain. That includes telemetry (logs, infra metrics, traces, APIs) from your application hosting environment, as well as active and passive observation at the point of consumption—that is, outputs from customer browsers and worker devices. It also must include active network observability (connectivity, reachability, BGP routing), as well as continuous active observation of all the disparate services — content delivery networks (CDNs), DNS services, cloud-based security services — and every other cloud and web service that contributes to the user experience. (And by the way, you should look for independent, objective telemetry whenever possible rather than taking what your various providers report at face value.) 

The continuous evolution of our platform

We’ve been working on this for a while, and it is reflected in the innovative changes we make to our platform. Let’s look at some recent examples, as well as a few that are still in the works:  

  • We are continually growing our global network of nodes. Our ~1,000 global node network delivers unparalleled insight across critical Internet locations, from all the cloud providers, across the top-tier backbone and broadband providers, and all the way to the last mile and wireless networks. Since you can’t improve and fix what you can’t see, we’ve expanded the industry’s largest global network still further. We’ve grown our wireless observers across worldwide cellular networks like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Vodafone, Telefonica, and China Mobile. Not to forget our newest addition: the industry’s first nodes for mobile edge compute and AWS Wavelength, invaluable as applications and services move closer to the edge to deliver better user experience.
  • Another important milestone is our new SaaS user experience: Symphony. People are enjoying a dramatically improved Catchpoint Portal experience. First and foremost, the new Symphony experience saves time for our customers. The workflows are faster and simpler. The analytics are more powerful, visibility is improved (the Symphony dashboard lets you view different data types with better-looking widgets and more flexibility than before), and we now have a common, integrated platform toolset with the same tools for active testing, real user, and endpoint data.  
  • Monitoring microservices. Our active API observability capabilities are continually improved and are leveraged by the largest retailers to proactively manage the end-to-end performance and health of complex application architectures. DevOps teams rely on our API capabilities to test, monitor, and manage their applications from development to QA, and on into production. No other APM solution can deliver proactive application observability.  
  • Employee experience observability for a hybrid workforce. Working from anywhere, employees now rely on the flexibility that fast Internet, cloud, and SaaS applications offer. However, they are at the mercy of volatile consumer-grade Internet service and home-grade WiFi and network connectivity, whilst new security and virtualization tools can also impact the digital experience. Our employee experience solution provides an unparalleled level of insight past the four walls of the enterprise or home office, across the Internet maze, all the way to business applications. All from a single console for simplified management of office and remote endpoints: to enable end user services to support employees’ ability to work productively, whenever and wherever they are.  
  • Far-reaching network insights. In an increasingly digital world for both consumers and employees and a trend toward enterprise-grade networking and security in the home networking space, visibility into every layer of the network has become an essential tool for observability practitioners. We are continually investing in our ability to deliver far-reaching insights across your entire network and across application layers. Our nodes cover the global Internet, from the edge to the backbone and are connected directly to tier-1 ISPs that the Internet runs on.
  • Bringing WebPageTest into the Catchpoint portal. We will soon be extending our observability capabilities by integrating WebPageTest directly into the Catchpoint experience and portal. Customers will get gold-standard data and insights for their website performance and track performance changes over time, allowing them to identify bottlenecks like render-blocking JavaScript, slow third-party resources, and much more. For teams focusing on improving SEO and the overall user experience, WebPageTest allows for unparalleled insights into the data that matters most, like core web vitals and filmstrips, from real devices all around the world. Together with WebPageTest, the Catchpoint portal can now fully address the visibility needs of DevOps teams.
  • Expanded product integrations and ecosystems. Our wide and expanding range of product integrations lets us be the best of breed front end for any APM back end, enable faster, more efficient collaboration, and send alerts directly to the notification tools of our customers’ choice.
  • Maximized data. Our data from active, real user, and endpoint observability already helps IT teams rapidly detect and troubleshoot issues to drive better business outcomes, but it can always provide more value. Catchpoint’s purpose-built data and analytics engine can help companies predict and plan for infrastructure changes, while our AI-based visualizations turn detailed raw data into actionable insights for predefined triggering, efficient separation of the signals from the noise, and continual performance optimization. We have some exciting developments in this area so stay tuned!

Get in touch with one of our observability specialists at your convenience to learn how we can help you deliver an awesome digital experience to your users.

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