Digital Experience Monitoring: Addressing Those Nagging Network Performance Problems

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:  


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  

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