[ED. NOTE: This post is written by Christine Bentsen, SolarWinds' Director of Product Marketing.]
At SolarWinds, we differentiate between single URL monitoring and comprehensive end-user experience monitoring. The URL monitor indicates the ability for the application to get to a URL and load a page or do some other simple task from the perspective of the application itself. It primarily addresses the health and availability of a given application. However, the end-user experience monitor provides the ability to mimic the experience of an end user navigating an application, which consists of multiple URLs or steps. With an end-user experience monitor, you can understand the performance delivered by an application to the end-user.
System administrators have multiple needs. Some worry about reporting on the availability of an application through URL monitoring. Some worry about providing the needed service levels for the end-users of the application. Some worry about both. SolarWinds Application Performance Monitor (APM) and SolarWinds Synthetic End User Monitor (SEUM)together satisfies all of their application performance needs.
“I need to monitor the ability of a remote user to reach a URL. What type of product do I need to do that?”
This is a common question, and one we hear a lot from our customers. We will need to dig deeper into the use cases in order to answer this question.
So let’s say you just want to monitor the availability of one URL. In that case, SolarWinds Application Performance Monitor (APM) can do what you need. It will load a page for you, and can even verify if a certain string of text does or does not appear on that page.
APM’s User Experience Monitors
That may be all you need to ensure your “user experience.” But, if you are truly running a mission critical application, where the end-user experience entails navigating through a website and performing a series of actions, you’re going to want more from your end-user-experience monitor. You’ll want to monitor the systems and applications themselves, and also get the end-user perspective.
That’s where SolarWinds Synthetic end-user Monitor helps. You’ll need to create a number of transactions (or recorded mission-critical actions) and play them back at planned intervals from multiple locations to ensure that everything is up and running from the end-user’s perspective. And this is really key... your end users will likely be sitting outside your firewall, perhaps even around the globe. SEUM can playback recordings of multistep interactions with a website from all the locations you desire—inside or outside the firewall. You could test the recording from your offices in Austin, Dallas, China, and Australia. With APM, you can only test the page (one single page) from wherever the APM application is installed. And APM’s user experience monitor is very “pass/fail” – the page either loads in the allotted timeframe or it doesn’t. You don’t get much in the way of diagnostics other than that.
SEUM Provides the End-User Perspective from Multiple Locations
So, in short: APM monitors your servers and applications, and SEUM proactively monitors the experience users are having when they access them. You will need both products for monitoring an application from all perspectives.