Blog Post

Mastering IPM: Navigating data analysis

Explore essential practices and tools for navigating data analysis in IPM to ensure Internet Resilience and optimize digital experiences.

Imagine you’re curious about the number of Super Bowl wins by each NFL team from 1967 to 2024.  

Stay with me – stranger things are googled every day.  

I could tell you that the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots lead with six wins each, followed by the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys with five apiece. The New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, and Kansas City Chiefs come next, each with four victories. Then we have those with three Super Bowl wins: the Oakland Raiders, Washington Commanders, and Denver Broncos. The Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have all won twice, and finally, the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, and Philadelphia Eagles each have one Super Bowl win to their name.  

Or I could just show you this:                

super bowl wins by NFL teams

Now, which approach seems more intuitive and efficient for grasping the data at a glance?  

The benefits of using visualizations over text are particularly evident when analyzing observability data.  

Visualizations excel in handling observability data, especially in the context of cloud-native environments that generate vast amounts of raw, granular data. By translating complex metrics and trends into intuitive charts and graphs, visualizations empower teams to glean deeper insights and make more informed decisions.  

But what should you look for when comparing visualization tools in observability analysis?  

Let’s explore some best practices in this installment of our Mastering Internet Performance Monitoring (IPM) series.  

Navigating Data Analysis: Best Practices and Essentials  

Monitoring data requires two essential capabilities:

  • the ability to analyze diverse telemetry types  
  • the ability to collect nonaggregated data  

Why? Because you need to gather data from various devices and sources worldwide to present and analyze it all within a single interface. Additionally, you need to collect nonaggregated data because aggregated data overlooks crucial details that can impact performance insights.  

Turning massive amounts of data into actionable insights hinges on leveraging an efficient analysis engine that facilitates rapid and seamless processing of data, whether by machines or humans.  

Here are 5 fundamental principles of data analysis to consider when choosing an analysis tool for observability.  

  1. Direct Access to Raw Data: The ability to provide direct access to raw data is essential, allowing you to slice and dice your data to extract the answers you need without losing important information due to pre-aggregation. In cloud-native environments, where monitoring data volumes can be 10 and 100 times higher than in traditional VM-based environments, this capability becomes even more critical.  
  1. Comprehensive Data Visualization: Look for a tool that offers a wide range of visualization options, facilitating intuitive exploration and understanding of complex datasets. Additionally, ensure that the platform provides robust dashboards and analysis engines, enabling not only high-level overviews of incidents but also supporting detailed drill-downs to identify root causes effectively  
  1. Advanced Analytics Capabilities: Seek out tools with advanced analytics features that enable in-depth exploration of data, including trend analysis, anomaly detection, and predictive modeling.  
  1. Real-Time Insights: Opt for a solution that offers real-time data analysis capabilities, empowering proactive decision-making and swift responses to performance issues.  
  1. Effective Alerting System: Ensure the tool has an alerting system capable of accurately detecting issues and outages while minimizing false negatives.  

Harnessing the power of raw data with Orchestra  

Catchpoint generates petabytes of data daily, presenting a significant challenge in analyzing raw data to derive insights and make informed decisions. To address this challenge, we offer a range of powerful tools and capabilities designed to facilitate efficient data analysis and empower users to extract actionable insights from the vast amounts of data generated by our platform. After all, having the world’s largest active observability network is meaningless without the ability to harness the generated data.  

Orchestra is the data analytics framework that powers our award-winning IPM platform. Designed specifically for monitoring and analytics, this clustered, highly-available SaaS data store excels at ingesting vast quantities of unsupervised, non-aggregated data in real time, allowing us to deliver immediate answers to complex questions spanning millions of data points.  

Below are some of the key visualization capabilities in the Catchpoint portal powered by Orchestra:  

#1 - Dashboards

The Catchpoint portal features numerous preconfigured "Overview" dashboards that provide insights into the overall reachability, functional availability, performance, reliability, and resiliency of all critical services, applications, and systems.

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#2 - Smartboards

Catchpoint's Smartboards are similar to Dashboards in that they provide visualizations of data from various sources, but come with advanced analytics capabilities enabling you to dig deeper and troubleshoot specific issues. They allow you to focus on one test in a single, interactive view to zero in on the root cause of a problem. They can be used to analyze data related to tests, real-user Apps, individual nodes, employee apps, endpoints, and locations.  

Powered by AI, Smartboards effectively transform mountains of data into molehills of information and solve the problem of making sense of siloed, disparate monitoring sources. What's more they’re underpinned by Catchpoint's purpose-built, stateless architecture, guaranteeing data quality and integrity you can trust.  

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#3 - Explorer  

Explorer enables you to quickly perform detailed analyses of your Test and RUM data to discover the causes of performance issues. With Explorer, you can create cross-dimensional visualizations of various metrics, such as slowest browsers by city, most visited pages by device type, availability & performance by city and ISP, or bounce rate by page by browser. By visualizing raw data over small periods of time, Explorer allows you to analyze the full captured data set practically in real time.  

By default, Explorer presents data in Line charts based on the selected source and time frame. However, it offers various visualization options, including scatterplots, bar graphs, cumulative distribution functions (CDF), histograms, heat maps, and tables.  

Each visualization provides unique perspectives. Scatterplots, for example, make outlier and error analysis easier, whereas bar charts enable easier data comparisons.  

Line Graph/Trend Chart Example

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Scatterplot Example

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#4 - Custom visualizations

Catchpoint offers the flexibility of building your own visualizations with BYOV (Build Your Own Visualization). While standard visualization options are available to view monitor-generated data, users can create Custom Visualizations using popular libraries like D3, Dygraphs, Plotly, Rickshaw, and nvd3. Once published, these Custom Visualizations can be integrated into Dashboard Widgets and enabled for Explorer analysis.  

This is a sample custom visualization on JSFiddle:  

Custom visualization Example:

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#5 - Integrations and more

Catchpoint provides seamless integration with your existing tools, enhancing troubleshooting capabilities by integrating workflows, notifications, and benchmarks with platforms like Slack, Splunk, ServiceNow, Chef, and more. From BigPanda to Zapier, our integrations cover a wide range of solutions.  

With REST APIs for data retrieval, alerts, and Webhooks for data push, our IPM platform supports integration with diverse tools, solutions, and platforms. Explore our supported integrations here.  

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Transform data into action with Catchpoint  

Throughout our Mastering IPM series we’ve highlighted the critical need for comprehensive monitoring visibility. However, without the ability to derive actionable insights, even the best visibility is meaningless. This blog has underscored the importance of leveraging the right type of visualizations and dashboards to transform complex data into actionable insights. With Catchpoint's AI powered visualization tools and strategies, mastering IPM becomes more attainable, enabling you to find and fix problems fast before they impact your business.  

In our final post, we’ll reflect on the invaluable insights shared throughout our Mastering IPM series, drawing key takeaways that will empower you to ensure Internet Resilience and optimized digital experiences.  

Check out our guided product tour to see IPM in action, or contact us to learn more.  

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