What is the “Last Mile” and Why is it Important to Website Performance?

What is the “Last Mile”?

When you hear the phrase “Last Mile”, you may think of it as the final leg of delivering connectivity from a communications provider to a customer – the “last mile” from the main cable to your house. That certainly is where the term began. Here at Compuware, we expose how this “final leg” of service delivery can impact end user website performance by using a global network of tens of thousands of computers we call the “Last Mile.”

Why Measure from the Last Mile View?

Because for a B2C web applications, customers are the source of your revenue — and your customers are located at the end of the “Last Mile.”

Measuring from real consumer desktops at the “edge of the Internet,” behind local ISPs and mobile carriers, is the only “real-world” view into the performance of web applications. This “Last Mile” view offers insight into how geographic location and bandwidth constraints affect the way your customers experience your website.

Measuring from real user desktops means you can detect potential issues in local and regional geographies and with specific customer segments such as broadband or dial-up users and know about issues that are meaningful to your business — before your customers experience problems.

Monitoring from the “Last Mile” exposes how variables like location, consumer-grade ISPs, CDNs, connection speeds and computer performance all impact end-user website performance. By extending performance insights down to the desktop, you can:

  • Identify real-world performance issues, including the impact of bandwidth, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), local ISPs and wireless carriers
  • Measure the differences in the quality of service for existing and new markets
  • Proactively test performance from the end-user’s perspective at multiple stages of the development process
  • Identify, before deployment, problems in key localities and new regions or with real world variables like connection speeds, (dial-up, DSL, cable broadband, fiber optics, etc.) before users arrive

Curiously, some organizations (i.e., those without “Last Mile” capability) have called data from the “Last Mile” noisy and erratic. But, that’s exactly the point! All that “noise” is exactly what your customer is experiencing. If you want to see what they’re seeing, you need to “hear the noise,” too. You can’t have a real “Last Mile” capability by testing from computers in data centers. That negates the entire point of the Last Mile.

Load Testing and the Last Mile

Load testing from the ‘Last Mile’ is also the only way to generate real-world load to test web application performance across CDNs, third party providers, locals ISPs, etc. When you combine this with high-volume load from the cloud, you learn things about how your applications scales that you literally can’t learn any other way.

Having “Last Mile” visibility into the operational availability and performance of your key web pages and transactions ensures that they perform properly—all the time, in all locations.