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Monday, August 15, 2011

The Guide to Site Monitoring

Website owners view "website performance monitoring" from many different perspectives. These perspectives vary based on the monitoring technologies/services, requirements, and goals for a website.

So, when answering the question "What is website performance monitoring?" is asked is the answer "Whatever you want it to mean?"

In fact, as a general rule, and for reasons of practicality, website “performance monitoring” is often categorized into different “levels” of monitoring – from a basic Ping test to increasingly detailed and dynamic monitoring services, such as “user experience” monitoring. Often, answering a question about a basic level of website performance (such as, “Is the webserver up or down?”) corresponds to the use of a basic monitoring service; while answering a more complex questions about website performance (such as, is the 5th step in the shopping cart loading <2 sec?”) corresponds to the use of a more complex monitoring service.

And yet, both basic and complex monitoring scenarios are often referred to as “website performance monitoring.” For example the following two examples demonstrate how perspectives on“website performance monitoring” can differ:

-  On the one hand, a network administrator sets up a simple Ping monitor once per 60-minutes to test the up/down performance of a web server. From her perspective the performance of the web server is whether the server is up, or down, therefore the “performance monitoring” is based on an up/down monitoring.
-  On the other hand, a website administrator sets up a browser-based monitoring script running every 3 minutes to test a shopping cart web application and associated Ajax page elements served by a third-party vendor to monitor “user experience.” From his perspective the key website performance of the web application is whether the webpages Ajax on the final “Submit Order” page of the shopping cart for visitors to his shopping cart loads on in a daily average < 2 sec.

So, is there a practical way to think about website performance monitoring and the services needed to monitor specific scenarios?

The following website performance monitoring selection guide, while no means universal, provides basic guidance in understanding what performance monitoring service best fits certain scenarios and requirements.

A simple method of using the guide is to:

1. Start at the column “Webserver/website Performance Question,” with the most basic question in row #1 “Is the web server up or down?”

2. Then move down to the next question in the row below in the “Webserver/website Performance Question,” column

3. If the question in the next row below continues to be relevant to your performance requirements continue to move down each row,

4. Until you've matched the level of your monitoring Performance Question with the corresponding monitoring Service noted in the adjacent column “Monitoring Service that answers the Performance Question”

5. Then review the Monitoring Service by clicking on its link.

6. Review the additional “How is the Service used” column in that row to provide further guidance.

7. Review the “Additional Performance Questions” at the bottom to determine if there are other performance-related questions that apply .

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