Minimize Disruptions with Synthetic Monitoring

Synthetic network performance monitoring (NPM) and application performance monitoring (APM) tools simulate real-world traffic and track response times across networks, websites, and applications — so you can find issues before users do.

What is Synthetic Monitoring?

Unlike real user monitoring (RUM) tools, which rely on live network and application traffic, synthetic monitoring tools generate simulated application traffic, send it across your network and applications, and measure how long it takes to reach its intended destination. Continuous testing enables network operations and application delivery teams to monitor QoE and quality of service (QoS) under various conditions — helping them pinpoint service degradations, network / application latency, or bottlenecks.

Frequently Asked Questions About Application and Network Performance Monitoring Software

What is network performance monitoring (NPM)?

Network performance monitoring (NPM) tools enable you to visualize, monitor, troubleshoot, and maximize a given network's performance, availability, and quality of service.

These tools operate one of two ways: reporting live network traffic or generating synthetic traffic and sending it across the network to various hardware- or software-based endpoints. Frequently, these tools display critical metrics and KPIs such as packet loss, jitter, delay, response time, and mean opinion score. A highly-visual, real-time dashboard utilizing AI or machine learning makes it easy for network operations teams to identify outliers and potential issues to follow up on.

What is application performance monitoring (APM)?

Application performance monitoring (APM) tools enable IT personnel and DevOps teams to ensure enterprise and customer-facing applications meet users' expected performance, reliability, and user experience (UX) goals.

APM tools generally fall into one of two categories: real user monitoring (RUM) or synthetic monitoring. RUM platforms capture and report on traffic metrics and performance checks derived from real application users — providing real-time insights into UX and performance. Conversely, synthetic monitoring tools emulate user interactions to benchmark application performance under various conditions and scenarios — enabling operations teams to identify and remediate potential bottlenecks faster.

What is synthetic monitoring?

Traditional monitoring tools rely on actual traffic data, sometimes called passive data. Synthetic monitoring (active monitoring) tools generate simulated application traffic, inject it into your network, and capture key performance indicators. Running simulations lets you observe your network's performance under various conditions and note where performance does not meet expectations.

The process is active because you control the type and mix of applications and the traffic volume in each simulation. Since your monitoring tool is not dependent on live traffic, you can anticipate performance problems and test the impact of potential fixes. You move from being passive and reactive to being proactive.

How can you use synthetic monitoring tools?

Synthetic monitoring is excellent for assessing network readiness before deploying SD-WAN, distributed unified communications, cloud applications, or voice and video services like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Since these tools rely on simulated traffic to measure response time, quality, or latency, you can predict performance and pinpoint bottlenecks before going live. Moreover, most industry-leading tools offer a library of application signatures — enabling you to build highly accurate tests with the exact type of traffic you expect while varying the volume to model changes in demand.

A flexible monitoring platform lets you simulate traffic from various endpoints across your distributed network, so that you can measure performance in a wide range of operating scenarios. You can test node-to-node connections in a distributed network, validate end-user experience using cloud-based applications, or ensure large-scale network deployments are ready for release.

In addition to pre-deployment and live network assessments, you can also use continuous active monitoring to proactively maintain QoS. Tracking daily simulation results makes it easy to identify deviations from the norm — giving you an early indication of when performance falls below minimum service levels.

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