Category: Monitoring

Monitoring Web Applications: Should You Do It?

If you run own or operate a website, there’s a chance that you have experience with web applications. You may have a shopping cart or lead capture form on your site, or even some other form of an application. The question is: do you actually monitor those apps to ensure they are functioning properly? And if they’re not functioning properly, then  what is the cost to you?

Let’s take a simple shopping cart for example, and let’s say that you sell t-shirts on your website. If you visitors add t-shirts to their cart, but an error prevents them from checking out, what do you think this does to visitor confidence? And to their loyalty to your site? The truth is that web visitors are extremely fickle, and shoppers are even worse. With that said, it’s important to make sure that you do something to monitor any web apps that you have so you know when there’s a problem. If you know when a problem begins, then you can take action to correct it. If you never know about it, it could be hours, days, or even weeks before it’s brought to your attention by an angry visitor.

So assuming you want to monitor a web application on your site, how is this done? Well there are multiple options that you have, and the best option is most likely to use an external or off site web application monitoring solution. A third-party solution will be the most reliable because a self-hosted solution won’t necessarily be able to keep track of any problems you’re having, especially if the issue is related to a server-side problem. There are a number of companies that offer a solution like this, and you just need to do a little research to find out which one is best for you, and which one helps you achieve your goals. Both Pingdom and DotCom-Monitor offer different but workable solutions in this space.

At the end of the day, you obviously don’t have to monitor any of your applications at all. And if you don’t have any web applications on your site, then there’s nothing to monitor. However, if you do have public-facing web applications, you need to ask yourself what this question: “What is the risk/benefit of doing nothing?” Maybe in your case you don’t have many web visitors, or run an extremely low traffic blog, and it that case the expense may not be justified. However, if you have a considerable amount of traffic then you might want to consider what could happen as a result of inaction. Either way, if you take your time and evaluate the needs for your website, you should be on your way to finding a workable solution.

The Need For Web Monitoring Tools

Web apps are client-server systems that allow a user to submit data have it processed on a server and respond to the user accordingly. Web apps can exist in the form of webmail, shopping carts, online auctions or web registration forms.

Web monitoring applications are essential to ensure the host site is able to service its visitors, subscribers and patrons efficiently and securely. They are designed to ensure the shortest downtime, provide instant notification of performance instability or unavailability of services. Web monitoring apps give system administrators confidence with advance alert systems, triggered actions and automated escalation procedures. Web monitoring apps can be deployed in a virtual environment, data center or cloud (using a service like CopperEgg.

Incorporating web application monitoring tools is a smart way to intercept catastrophic failures that can lead to loss of business or lack of trust from site visitors and customers. Web app monitoring is synonymous with having a pair of eyes glued to every action performed by the app platform. Another advantage of an automated monitoring program is the ability to analyze all transactions 24/7 with configurable options. In a nutshell monitoring tools give companies and system admins the ability to monitor trends, display activity in comprehensive charts, produce reports and send alerts in real-time via SMS, email or mobile technology.

In addition to providing reports for performance degradation and processing failures, web app monitors also give site administrators the ability to be notified of hackers attempting to overload the system or any activity that can be categorized as content or system violations. With the emergence of cloud computing sites are more susceptible to broad and targeted attacks that can cripple individual sites residing on a “cloud” network.

Many commercial application monitoring tools provide different levels of insight in performance of web technologies. Network based performance monitoring systems are generally integrated into these platforms and can provide high level views into web application performance in conjunction with load-balance testing tools that can be applied before a web application is deployed to the web.

When choosing a web monitoring app, ensure that it has the ability to install seamlessly in a data center or cloud environment. Make certain it has the ability to map the architecture and dependencies of the web product and can provide a big picture of application performance regardless of the complexity of the site. This includes automated discovery of network systems and software on a variety of platforms including; Windows, Unix, Linux, AIX, HPUX, Solaris and more. Modern monitoring tools generally provide a “drill down” format that allow administrators to troubleshoot and inspect individual call stacks and anomalies on a method and class level. Some web monitoring apps also have built in decoding tools to allow load balance testing before an app is published or deployed.