Digital Experience Monitoring: Addressing Those Nagging Network Performance Problems

Author
Terry Slattery
Principal Architect

You and your staff have been working from home since the pandemic started. Some staff has reported problems with slow applications, choppy voice, and pixelated video. The networking and applications teams can’t find anything significant. The solution is Digital Experience Monitoring (DX – sometimes also written as DEM or DXM and not to be confused with Digital Transformation, also abbreviated as DX). 

What is DX? 

Digital experience monitoring is like application performance monitoring combined with end-user experience monitoring (EUEM). It analyzes end-user traffic to identify characteristics associated with a variety of network or application problems. The specific analysis mechanisms vary from product to product, making some of them ideal for certain classes of problems. 

End-user focused monitoring systems may use a module loaded into the user’s device, perhaps as a browser or operating system extension. An application-focused monitoring system may rely on packet captures or flow data that identifies server-to-server problems. Other systems may instrument the applications themselves to provide detailed internal visibility. Understanding these differences can help you when faced with a purchasing decision. 

How is DX Useful? 

Digital experience monitoring has a variety of benefits: 

  • It functions over network and server infrastructure you don’t own, like ISPs and cloud providers. 
  • DX provides visibility into the operation of as-a-service applications. We’ve seen examples where DX identified the source of end-user performance problems as a problem within an application vendor’s data center. 
  • The end-user experience monitoring part of DX can identify problems with the end-user device, especially limited CPU, insufficient memory, or network connectivity problems. It can also identify when other applications running on the end-user device are creating problems with business applications. For example, movie downloads could be absorbing the majority of network bandwidth to a workstation. Or malware could be running a bitcoin miner, impacting CPU and memory. 
  • DX is great for the analysis of work-from-home problems. We have successfully used DX to identify problems with an executive’s home Wi-Fi system after work-from-home became prevalent.

When Should You Use DX? 

Digital Experience is always important, but it has become crucial for organizations who no longer own the entire Application Delivery Chain (ADC).  If any part of the application is with a SaaS, IaaS or cloud provider, a portion of the ADC is outside your IT team’s control.  A DX product is necessary in this situation to determine the issues and direct resources quickly to maintain service levels to your users.  

The DX product is installed on key network and endpoint devices. The installation’s specifics will depend upon the product you’ve selected. The next step is to run synthetic tests of critical services. Some products include the ability to perform these tests from the vendor’s test nodes located at different points around the global internet, and you’ll want to incorporate some of those tests. Hence, you’re aware of internet outages that impact your customer-facing services. 

Your networking team should also identify important endpoints that should run client-side network analysis. Some of these clients will be operating in home environments, while other clients will be in office settings. Regardless of the environment, an analysis of the client’s local network can identify problems. 

We have found it useful to configure synthetic testing of applications from the client endpoints. The tests should run regularly, perhaps as often as every few minutes from some endpoints. The data from these tests form a performance baseline against which managers can compare future performance. This analysis is critical to identifying changes in application performance. 

Addressing Those Nagging Performance Problems 

How frequently do your networking and applications teams disagree on the source of an application performance problem? Most organizations have at least one major, on-going problem that they have been unable to resolve satisfactorily. The answer may be the use of DX by experienced networking staff. NetCraftsmen Consultants are available to help with an analysis of your most challenging network problems. 

 

Additional DX content:  

Blog 

Switch to Digital Experience (DX) Monitoring 

Success Stories 

Using DX Monitoring to solve a problem stemming from an Upstream Provider 

Solving a user’s Work from Home issue with DX Monitoring  

Search for all DX Content

 

 

Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.

 

Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.

 

John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.