Watch our on-demand webinars about moving forward the digital experience conversation from monitoring to observability and learn how to implement a total experience observability strategy.
What is digital experience observability, and how does it differ from monitoring?
For the person on the street, digital experiences look effortless and easy — unless you happen to be responsible for ensuring their healthy and continuous operation. SREs, DevOps, and monitoring strategists today are dealing with a tremendous increase in both the number and overall complexity of the moving parts involved in service production and delivery. As a result, the limitations of traditional monitoring are becoming more apparent. Enter Digital Experience Observability. But how does observability differ from monitoring, and what does it look like in practice?
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.
Catchpoint recently hosted two webinars on digital experience observability, led by Zachary Henderson, Team Lead, Pre-Sales Solution Engineering and Leo Vasiliou, Director of Product Marketing. This article highlights the key takeaways.
Part 1: Evolving Monitoring and Observability to Ensure Flawless Digital Experiences
This webinar focuses on the difference between monitoring and observability – how your evolving IT landscape has warranted the need for observability in the first place. It also emphasizes why companies should expand the benefits of observability beyond monitoring just for the availability of their application or service, but rather for reachability all the way to the client.
Why is observability the logical next step to monitoring?
Traditional definitions of monitoring show that it can only tell you the “what”, not the “why”. A monitoring service will simply tell you whether the metrics for what you’re monitoring are red, amber or green, whether that’s a web page, a BGP peer, or a DNS server. In isolation, what metrics won’t show is how different components work together. Nor will they provide you with actionable conclusions about what to do with the data.
Observability, by contrast, provides insights into why your platform isn’t working as expected. Consider driving a car as an analogy. You notice that your miles per gallon average has gone down, but the problem could be coming from anywhere - your tire pressure, driveshaft or just a bumpy road. A mechanic with the right diagnostic tools will easily access the cars data, including emissions, power output and fuel efficiency. Only then will you know what to fix!
Observability works the same way. By connecting the dots from all the complex mix of endpoints, infrastructure, protocols and applications you’re monitoring, you’ll get answers about the overall health and performance of your digital assets. Only then will you be able to spot service-disrupting incidents before they happen, and rapidly develop actionable mitigation strategies.
Now how do you take this definition and expand it to include receiving observability benefits from more than just the application?
Let’s expand the definition of observability
The idea of monitoring for reachability all the way to the client as opposed to just the application is the next rung in the evolutionary ladder. From endpoint devices, robots, real user browsers and real user sentiment, you can glean an enormous amount of data that will eliminate blind spots in the delivery chain. From there, you’ll be able to reduce the frequency, duration, and impact of any disrupting events.
The last step is to manage the total experience at the intersection of your employees, customers, and digital clients.
“When you’re able to measure the entire delivery chain from your business to your customer - that’s when you’re able to make meaningful conclusions that lead to transformational business outcomes.” Leo Vasiliou, Director of Product Marketing
Learn more about Catchpoint’s experience observability platform
Next, the focus of the webinar switches to the implementation of these evolutionary concepts at Catchpoint. Using the common scenario of getting a service error message while trying to join a virtual meeting, Catchpoint’s tools are used to observe and measure the experience from an end-user point of view, to ask crucial questions to address challenges with digital experience, such as, “Why is there an error? How many people are being affected? Whose fault is it?”
Part 2: User Journeys of the Unknown: Observable Experiences Come from Understanding Digital Transactions
Our second webinar in this two-part series, “User Journeys of the Unknown: Observable Experiences Come from Understanding Digital Transactions”, focuses on the implementation of a total experience observability strategy in the real world.
According to Zachary, measuring everything outside your application that will impact your service before users get to your front door is crucial. This means starting with the first digital interaction with your brand - DNS. If that initial interaction is slow, it’s inevitably going to impact the overall experience, so understanding how your brand’s DNS infrastructure is deployed around the world is essential. You want to measure from real locations where people are accessing their data.
Leo points out, however, that you don’t want to fall into the trap of simply monitoring DNS time. It’s important to make deeper observations about the mesh of records and the construct of underlying levels. Those insights can then be used in meaningful use cases, like being alerted for cache poisoning, and being alerted if IPs don't resolve to expected addresses - both of which are more relevant than simply monitoring DNS time.
Why you need to observe the internet as a whole
A higher-level observational method embraces the idea of monitoring distributed networks; essentially, monitoring the internet as a whole. This includes measuring end-to-end latency and end-to-end packet loss of actual TCP packets towards a destination or server. Why is this so important? Zachary puts it this way, “If users can't connect to you because of some networking issue out there, then there is no experience to measure at all”.
In the final part of the webinar Zachary uses real examples to demonstrate Catchpoint’s observability capabilities in analyzing Time to First Byte (TTFB) data. He shows how in a complex microservices architecture, Catchpoint provides proactive insights that can complement the passive statistics that agent-based application monitoring tools provide.
2022 is shaping up to be a watershed moment for customer and employee experience. According to Gartner's 2021 Digital Business Acceleration Survey, the two main drivers for pursuing digital initiatives are to enhance customer experience (58%) and to improve employee productivity (57%). Watch the full webinar for real examples that show that with Catchpoint, implementing a Total Experience observability strategy doesn’t have to be as daunting as you might think.