What is end-user experience monitoring (EUEM)?
End-user experience monitoring (EUEM) is the process of monitoring the performance of IT resources from the perspective of an end user.
Rather than focusing solely on application performance monitoring (APM) or network performance monitoring, end-user experience monitoring seeks to assess the performance of the end-user device, the application and everything in between. Monitoring the entire service delivery chain in this way lets IT administrators accurately gauge the end-user experience and more easily troubleshoot any problems that do occur.
End-user experience monitoring is sometimes used interchangeably with digital experience monitoring (DEM), but the terms refer to two different things. DEM is a more comprehensive approach to performance monitoring, and EUEM is actually a part of DEM. Whereas EUEM focuses on quantifying the end user's experience, DEM looks at both the end-user experience and application performance with the goal of ensuring a consistent experience.
End-user experience monitoring metrics
EUEM products vary widely in terms of the metrics that they are able to monitor. Some of the more common monitoring metrics include the following:
- Network latency. When monitoring end-user experience, it is important to be able to see if any network segments between the end user and the application are experiencing significant latency.
- Gateway monitoring. On a busy network, an internet gateway or a cloud storage gateway can easily become a performance bottleneck. Some EUEM tools allow IT to monitor gateway performance to ensure that the gateway is not damaging the end-user experience.
- Web application monitoring. Many EUEM products focus on web application monitoring. While the capabilities vary from one tool to the next, these products typically track how long it takes for pages to load.
- Device monitoring. Sometimes an end user's experience comes down to the device they're using. While not all EUEM products take the user's device into account, some do use locally installed agents to track device performance.
- Regional monitoring. Many large organizations have users in various regions. Because application performance can vary depending on where users are accessing the application, it's important to be able to monitor how the end-user experience differs from one region to the next.
- SaaS monitoring. Some EUEM platforms include native support for popular SaaS applications. Such products use application programming interfaces provided by the SaaS application vendor as a way of gaining insight that goes well beyond what could be realistically expected from a passive monitoring tool.
- Other application monitoring. While some EUEM products focus solely on web applications, others offer granular monitoring capabilities that enable IT to monitor metrics such as database transactions, storage performance and server performance.
What types of organizations benefit from end-user experience monitoring?
Although any organization could conceivably benefit from end-user experience monitoring, such tools will be most beneficial to large organizations with a hybrid workforce. EUEM is also beneficial to organizations that make extensive use of SaaS applications or other cloud services.
The reason for this has to do with the complexity and widely distributed nature of the underlying infrastructure. At one time, it was common for all users to work on site and for all of an organization's applications and data to reside on premises. These architectures made it relatively easy to track down the source of performance problems -- the IT department had direct access to all of the hardware and software resources being used, making it possible to observe the entire system end to end.
With the growth of hybrid work and enterprise mobility, this is no longer the case. A user might be working at home, using an ISP for connectivity, accessing a cloud-based SaaS application and accessing data residing in the corporate data center. If a performance issue were to occur, IT staff might be hard-pressed to identify the source of the problem due to the sheer number of resources and networks being used, as well as the fact that so much of the infrastructure is owned and controlled by someone else, such as a cloud provider or ISP.
This is why EUEM can be so beneficial. It gives admins a way to implement end-to-end performance monitoring, even when some of the resources being used are not under the IT department's direct control. This helps to eliminate blind spots and lets IT monitor the entire service delivery chain.
Selecting an EUEM tool
Before adopting an EUEM tool, organizations should consider their general approach to monitoring. EUEM platforms generally fall into one of two categories, although some products use a combination of both techniques.
The first approach to EUEM is real user monitoring (RUM), which tracks real user sessions. Some products accomplish this by installing an agent on the end user's device. Other tools are application-specific and track end-user performance from the application side.
The main advantage to RUM is that it accurately reflects the end user's experience in real time. By quantifying real users' session performance, IT teams can see exactly what the current end-user experience is like.
The disadvantage of using RUM is that it does little to help organizations to be proactive because it acts as a real-time monitoring tool. If a problem were to occur in the middle of the night, for example, the issue might go undetected until users begin to log in the next morning. This is because RUM is tied to real-world user sessions, so if users have all logged off for the day, there is nothing to monitor.
The other approach to EUEM is synthetic monitoring. This approach works by performing automated tests against various resources in an effort to quantify performance. In other words, performance monitoring is not tied to end-user sessions, but rather to a collection of bots that are each designed to continuously test the responsiveness of various systems. Synthetic monitoring tools generally establish baseline performance metrics for various systems and then alert an administrator if abnormal performance levels are detected.
The advantage to using synthetic monitoring is that the monitoring process occurs continuously, regardless of whether or not users are logged in. The disadvantage, however, is that this approach might not always accurately reflect an individual user's experience. Synthetic monitoring tools tend to focus more on application performance, connectivity and infrastructure performance than on individual users.
Organizations should also consider other capabilities they might need. Some EUEM products assist with troubleshooting efforts by providing end-to-end maps that show the resources in user sessions and any bottlenecks that might exist. Likewise, some tools provide insights into end-user devices and SaaS applications while others do not.
Implementing end-user experience monitoring
The process of implementing an EUEM tool varies widely from one product to the next. Some are simple to install and dynamically discover resources without administrators having to do anything special. Other products require the installation of agents or special service accounts that allow the tool to log into the various resources it's monitoring.