Our reader survey for this article showed a keen interest in this granular look at the user experience. We asked which groups rely most on performance information and, not surprisingly, IT management topped the list. But business managers were in a virtual tie for second--with IT admins--in paying attention to IT performance reports. Are they watching bits and bytes? Not likely. Are they looking for a clue about customer and user satisfaction?Of course.
Management isn't focusing on IT infrastructure performance solely because of the SLA (service-level agreement) fines levied for performance failures. Although some enterprises do have availability and throughput goals against which their IT shops are measured, most don't. Readers overwhelmingly said a tool that gathers and reports user performance data in real time would be valuable.
RTUM products collect data on end-to-end response time, errors and throughput of user-app sessions, including those for Web and business apps. This data is stored as specific app sessions, then aggregated and linked by server, location, page and object so specific sessions and global performance trends are visible.
Choosing among the myriad methods and technologies available to achieve the RTUM goal can be difficult, however. Agents can gather a mass of data, but if deploying agents is problematic because the nodes to be monitored aren't under your control, the alternative is agentless technology. Services like those from BMC Software, Gomez, Keynote Systems and Mercury Interactive, which fire robotic transactions, also measure the end-user experience. We'll evaluate three products in "Real Users, Real Insight" but first let's examine the various technologies.