What is synthetic monitoring?

To give your customers a top-quality digital experience, it’s important to make sure your applications are always working properly. Synthetic monitoring can help to confirm your applications are performing as intended and, in the event they’re not, help you quickly figure out what’s going on.

Here’s a look at what synthetic monitoring is, how it’s different from real-user monitoring, and why it matters to your business.

What is synthetic monitoring?

Synthetic monitoring is an application performance monitoring practice that emulates the paths users might take when engaging with an application. It uses scripts to generate simulated user behavior for several scenarios, geographic locations, device types, and other variables. After collecting and analyzing this valuable performance data, a synthetic monitoring solution can give you crucial insight into how well your application is performing.

Synthetic monitoring can automatically keep tabs on application uptime and tell you how your application responds to typical user behavior. It can also zero in on specific business transactions — for example, by alerting you to issues users might experience while attempting to complete a purchase or fill out a web form.

Why is this important? If your application doesn’t perform well when your customers try to use it, they will quickly leave in pursuit of a better customer experience. This could play out in a variety of ways. For example, your website might take too long to load, resulting in a high bounce rate. Or, you might be lagging behind your competitors when it comes to application performance without even knowing it. This will hurt your ability to acquire new customers and grow your market share.

Even when your organization is aware something is amiss with an application, it may not know where to begin troubleshooting. When it comes to application performance, IT teams can’t always get to the bottom of what’s going on quickly — especially when they’re overextended and juggling several priorities. While your people are in the dark and searching for answers, though, your business could feel an immediate and significant impact on its bottom line.

Synthetic monitoring overview - sample results of a synthetic test.
Synthetic monitoring overview – sample results of a synthetic test.

Synthetic monitoring vs. real user monitoring

Synthetic monitoring is often compared with another application performance technique known as real user monitoring (RUM). As the name suggests, real user monitoring tracks actions taken by actual users instead of emulating them. Businesses often implement real user monitoring by injecting JavaScript code on a web page and then collecting performance data in the background as actual users interact with that page.

So, what is synthetic monitoring typically used for, and when might a business decide to use RUM instead? This technique is often helpful to identify short-term performance issues that may impact the user experience while an application is still under development — which in turn helps businesses nip potential performance issues in the bud. This approach is handy for regression testing and production site monitoring, for example. Real user monitoring, by contrast, can help a business understand long-term trends in an application’s performance after it has been deployed.

How Dynatrace can power your synthetic monitoring

If you’re thinking about using synthetic monitoring to better understand how your applications are performing, you might be wondering what tools you need to get started. You’ll want to pick a solution that simulates business-critical journeys through your most important applications across your mobile and web channels. This can give you immediate answers to questions about application availability and the impact it’s having on the user experience. Your synthetic monitoring solution should also be able to help you quickly identify the root cause of any application performance issue, so you can resolve it as soon as possible.

Dynatrace Synthetic Monitoring provides all the information you need to know the moment an application’s performance falters. By using all major desktop and mobile browsers to simulate user activity, Dynatrace helps ensure that web, mobile, cloud, and streaming transactions go smoothly for customers around the globe.
This is key for evaluating whether applications meet your service level agreement (SLA) requirements, and it can determine whether business outcomes have been impacted. It can also eliminate troubleshooting through AI-driven automation, as well as rank problems in order of importance to the business, significantly reducing the time required for your IT team to identify and address root causes.

To catch those longer-term trends, Dynatrace RUM capabilities uniquely capture the full visibility of the customer experience to eliminate user-experience blind spots, and Session Replay provides indisputable video evidence of the complete digital experience so everyone can agree where to make improvements.

These advanced digital experience monitoring capabilities help you proactively identify and address application performance issues from anywhere in the world. With the right synthetic monitoring solutions in place, your business can go a long way toward ensuring a consistent, satisfying customer experience.
To learn more about how Dynatrace can push your synthetic monitoring initiative to the next level, schedule a demo or activate your free trial today.

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