New Tool Offers Real-Time Insight into Web App Performance

The world of application performance monitoring took a few leaps into the future this month with technology that monitors Web application performance in real time. Known as real user monitoring (RUM), SaaS-based versions of the technology were unveiled by Compuware and New Relic.

The big deal about real user monitoring is that it measures key front-end metrics from the moment a user request is initiated in the app to the final loading of the resulting Web page.

Compuware’s Gomez Real-User Monitoring measures mobile Web site and native application performance. It measures performance directly from a user’s browser and mobile device, allowing developers and IT professionals to evaluate real-user performance by device or browser, geography, network and connection speed, as well as the resultant impact on business metrics such as page views, conversions, abandonment and end-user satisfaction.

Delivered on demand, Gomez RUM does not require any hardware installation or maintenance. Key capabilities include: mobile browser-based, real-user performance monitoring across all JavaScript-enabled mobile browsers on device platforms such as iOS, Android and Blackberry; and mobile native application-based real-user performance monitoring across iOS and Android.

“Current monitoring solutions take an outside-in approach to end-user monitoring, relying on synthetic transactions and pingers to approximate user behavior,” said Lew Cirne, New Relic’s founder and CEO. “These approaches can be good for telling you if your site is up at 3 a.m. in a distant part of the world, but they are no substitute for the ability to tell you what users are actually doing, and we are delivering that capability today.”

This means that developers can actually see exactly what their website looks like to their customers as it happens (how long it takes pages to load, which browser is faster, whether users in another country are experiencing a slowdown), added Cirne.

“By offering real user monitoring within our all-in-one SAAS offering for free, we are continuing our mission of disrupting the status quo within the application management industry,” said Lew Cirne, New Relic’s founder and CEO, who believes traditional monitoring models are irrelevant in the cloud era.

Web Application Insight from the User’s Point of View

New Relic’s RUM is one of the first commercial implementations of technology built on the Episodes framework for measuring Web page load times developed by Steve Sounders, the author of High Performance Web Sites.

“Our customers are looking for easy-to-use offerings that provide real-time views into their performance, and this product release extends their visibility to the end-user within minutes of deployment,” he said.

“With the addition of Real User Monitoring as a core capability of their solution, New Relic has taken a pivotal next step in the evolution of its on-demand Web application performance management service,” said Rona Shuchat, program director for application outsourcing services at IDC.

“As more and more organizations migrate to the cloud, providing deep visibility into applications and real user experiences becomes highly critical. The advantage of having an integrated offering that combines these capabilities can provide enormous value to development and operations teams, as well as the platform providers who all have a stake in application performance and end-user satisfaction.”

For each page request, New Relic captures network time, time in the application itself and time spent rendering the Web page, said Cerne. The software also tracks the type and version of browser, operating system and geographic location of the user.

In addition, development and operations teams can gain valuable, real-time insight into browser response time and measure user satisfaction from both the end-user and application perspectives, as well as determine if performance bottlenecks are located in the front end, the application or connected systems.

“Web app builders and owners care about their user’s experience,” said Dries Buytaert, co-creator of Drupal and chief technology officer at Acquia. “The fact is, speed matters. Seeing exactly what real users are experiencing in a Web app or Website provides tremendous value for both platform providers and their customers. New Relic lets any company gain critical visibility into Web performance with immediate time to value.”

It is very hard to predict how users will actually use your application, noted David Ting, vice president of Engineering, IGN Entertainment.

“When you create and release a new feature, it’s almost impossible to know which use case will be the most popular,” said Ting. “Real user monitoring from New Relic allows our developers to focus on the features that our users actually use. By doing so, we get faster and more agile as a company.”

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