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Mastering Internet Performance Monitoring: A best practices series

Master Internet Performance Monitoring (IPM) with Catchpoint: Best Practices Series for resilient, efficient, and proactive strategies.

The digital landscape has dramatically transformed since the world’s first website went live at CERN on August 6, 1991. What began as a single webpage has exploded into a sprawling, intricate web of interconnected services and systems. The modern web is mind-bogglingly vast, complex, and, when it works, beautiful in its precision and technological harmony.  

Over the past decade, not only has the Internet and the World Wide Web evolved, but also the way websites are developed and experienced by end-users. From monolithic to microservice-based structures and from data centers to cloud computing, we’ve come a long way.   

Yet, with this complexity comes vulnerability. Brian Krebs famously wrote that the Internet is held together by spit and baling wire. He is not wrong. Far from being a magically resilient, infallible network, the Internet is highly fragile, constantly evolving, and requires multiple networks, protocols, agents, and sub-systems to work together, often in milliseconds to perform. When it breaks, the fallout is severe: costs can spiral into millions, productivity plummets, and reputations suffer. The modern web needs constant attention and the right strategy to ensure its resilience.  

The critical layers of the Internet Stack

The effectiveness of any monitoring strategy depends on the level of visibility you have into what we’ve coined the Internet Stack – all the components that make up your service delivery chain, from your applications to your end users.  

Consider the layers of today’s Internet Stack, which is ever-changing and evolving:

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The Internet Stack

Network: The Network is one of the fundamental layers of the Internet Stack, as it connects billions of devices to form what we know as the Internet. Encompassing both public and private networks, it’s managed by various ISPs, from backbone to last mile and wireless. Together with infrastructures like LAN, WAN, and SASE, they provide the connectivity that underpins the global Internet and the foundations of enterprise networks.  

Protocols: Protocols are the rules and policies that orchestrate data communication between computers, enabling interaction regardless of differing software and hardware. They’re the unseen regulators ensuring that once devices are connected, data transmission is orderly and consistent. Without protocols, the Internet would be chaotic and dysfunctional. Key protocols like BGP, DNS, NTP, TCP, UDP, HTTP, and MQTT are the unsung heroes that keep the digital world running smoothly.   

Core/Cloud Services: Core and Cloud Services form the powerhouse of the Internet, each performing specialized functions. DNS, CDN, BGP, and Edge are pivotal in facilitating online connectivity.  

  • DNS or Domain Name DNS translates domain names into IP addresses, making sites like navigable by directing to    
  • CDNs or Content Delivery Networks, once optional, are now vital for content delivery, speeding up internet access globally.  
  • BGP, one of the oldest protocols, ensures efficient data routing across the Internet, while Edge services are increasingly crucial for reducing latency.  
  • Cloud hosting illustrates the evolution of the Internet, showcasing the transformative impact of cloud technology on service delivery.  
  • APIs are fundamental to today’s applications, from Starbucks to Netflix. These interfaces handle numerous online processes, from fraud detection and analytics to advertising, payments, and tracking, underpinning the functionality of modern digital services.  

Applications: Applications constitute the topmost layer of the Internet Stack, providing the interface for end-user interaction. This layer includes the front end, accessible through web browsers or dedicated clients, facilitating activities like online shopping and flight and hotel bookings—essentially, it’s where users connect with digital services.

The application layer, while integral, relies on underlying Internet Stack layers to operate. Yet, many organizations focus their monitoring solely on this layer, overlooking the crucial roles of the rest. This narrow focus, a byproduct of how application development has progressed, often leads to a significant blind spot in the visibility of other essential stack layers.  

Enter Internet Performance Monitoring (IPM).

Internet Performance Monitoring (IPM): The Key to Internet Resilience

Gaining deep visibility into every layer of the Internet Stack through IPM has emerged as a mission-critical capability for any organization that delivers services via the Internet.  

With a focus on proactive detection, rapid response, and continuous improvement, implementing IPM best practices becomes a strategic imperative for any business in an era where downtime is not an option. A 2023 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting noted, “Companies that don’t invest in IPM are vulnerable to huge financial losses as service disruptions drive away customers and employees.”  

Catchpoint’s Best Practices for Internet Performance Monitoring (IPM)

Catchpoint is arguably the world’s first dedicated Internet Performance Monitoring platform, going deeper and broader into layers of the Internet Stack than anyone else. Trusted by the world’s top six cloud providers, the four leading global retailers, nine of the top 10 CDNs, the largest MSPs, and many other leading global brands, we’ve built a best practices methodology that answers critical questions:  

  • Is there an issue?
  • Which layer of the stack is affected—Network, Middle-Mile, or Application?
  • What regions are impacted?
  • How extensive is the impact—does it affect part or all of the user base?
  • What’s the effect on business KPIs, such as revenue, conversions, and visitor counts?  

If your current monitoring setup fails to answer any of the questions above, it’s time for a reset. The application delivery landscape is extensive and requires an array of monitoring methodologies to work cohesively. Each monitoring methodology serves a specific purpose; overlaps exist, but one method cannot replace another.    

We all wish to have one solution that answers all our critical questions, but reliance on a single method isn’t practical or cost-effective.     

The ideal state looks like this:    

  • Having a clear understanding of the tools in your monitoring toolbelt  
  • Using those tools to solve challenges they were meant to solve  
  • Having a clear understanding of the overlaps  
  • Precise alert definitions and alert-team mappings that align with your organization’s setup  
  • Runbooks/Playbooks that are extensive and clear  
  • “Best of breed” solutions vs. using one solution that claims to do everything      

Inside - In View (Application & Infrastructure only)

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Navigating IPM: A Best Practices Series

Dive into our series, where we unpack Internet Performance Monitoring (IPM) through practical, field-tested best practices. We’ll cover the essentials of proactive issue detection and swift resolution to maintain seamless business operations. Throughout this series, we will focus more on the outside-in view and demonstrate how IPM can be used alongside application monitoring solutions to monitor the Internet Stack in a manner that allows you to find and fix issues before your business is impacted.  

Upcoming in the series:   

  1. Monitor what matters from where it matters: Discover the importance of monitoring from the user’s viewpoint to prevent outages, improve experiences, and gain crucial network performance insights.
  2. The essential customer experience monitoring framework: Dive into the best practices for IPM, focusing on enhancing customer experience and the foundational elements of reachability, availability, performance, and reliability.
  3. Protecting revenue through SLA monitoring:  Understand the critical role of neutral, third-party data in service level objective tracking and how to navigate the challenges of service level agreements.
  4. API monitoring for digital resilience: Understand the hidden layers of API transactions and how to enhance resilience.
  5. Navigating data analysis: Learn how to transform raw data into actionable insights with advanced AI tools and integration techniques for a comprehensive view of internet health and trends.
  6. Conclusion: Wrapping the series up with key takeaways and next steps.

We hope the detailed insights we share in this series will empower you with the knowledge and tools to achieve Internet Resilience. Join us as we delve into the strategies that will help you navigate the intricacies of the Internet Stack, ensuring your digital services remain resilient in the dynamic world of the Internet.

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