Category Archives: Effective Website Monitoring Solutions

What to Look for in a Website Monitoring Solution

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Within the realm of website monitoring solutions, there are many confusions among the system administrator’s. While the fundamental purpose of a website monitoring tool is universal – to maintain optimum performance and functionality – there are literally hundreds of different features and techniques associated with this topic. If you’re in the market for a website monitoring solution, then you should ensure it comes with a select number of features capable of supporting a variety of monitoring techniques. The following features and capabilities are considered essential to host a continually-stable environment.

Website Server Availability

This is one of the most basic features any website monitoring solution must offer. Through the use of an ICMP or Ping service, this feature sends out a data packet to the actual website server. This feature is the first line of defense when it comes to determining whether or not your website is currently available or if it’s offline. Well-equipped website monitoring solutions are capable of not only monitoring site availability, but sending high-priority alerts to administrator’s should a server Ping go unanswered.

Website Response/Loading Time

There are a few errors that can disrupt user engagement, and conversion rates for eCommerce websites, then a slow website response time. In fact, the majority of Web users expect a website to completely load within a matter of three seconds or less. In order to keep up with this demand, it’s imperative a website monitoring tool provide constant metrics regarding current and historical website loading and response times. Set a threshold regarding response time. When the loading time dips below the acceptable range, an alert is automatically triggered and notifications are sent to the appropriate parties.

Content Quality

One of the most important questions an administrator must ask himself is whether or not his content is loading properly. There are many reasons why content will improperly load; however, the most significant of these is an error regarding the HTML coding within the page. In order to effectively monitor and ensure website content properly loads, it’s imperative that your monitoring solution closely analyzes the rendering of in-page content, which includes all third party applications and elements.

Application Response and Reliability

The response and reliability of Web applications are one of the most essential aspects of an effective website. While there are web application monitoring solutions designed specifically for these tasks, it’s paramount that your website monitoring solution be capable of testing the response time and availability of critical Web applications, such as a login function or a shopping cart. If you’re only relying on a website monitoring tool to ensure application’s are running smoothly, make sure you purchase an enhanced solution capable of delving into the inner components of an application.

Measuring the Reliability and Quality of Website Media

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As our world moves more and more into the digital realm, the need for enhanced forms of content becomes ever important. Modern Internet users demand not only easy-to-digest written content, but also visual content in the form of streaming media. In fact, all industries are feeling the influence of streaming media within their enterprises. While streaming media, in the form of video, audio or images, is an essential component to attract and retain visitors, it’s the performance and stability of this content that’s truly important, says the website WebHostingBuddy.com.

Website Monitoring for Streaming Content

The notion of using monitoring software to safeguard the stability and functionality of a website is nothing new. In fact, many websites that host streaming content currently utilize a performance monitoring solution in some fashion. While older monitoring solutions may not provide the necessary features and capabilities of monitoring streaming content (source), the latest releases of the most popular monitoring solutions are capable of isolating media and monitoring it for performance and functionality.

If you’re interested in applying this level of protection and monitoring of your enterprise, there are several features you must ensure your monitoring solution provides, which include:

  • Variety of Supports Streams – Because the type of media used in websites can greatly vary, it’s imperative a monitoring solution be capable of monitoring the most popular multicast streams, such as: Quick Time, MPEG Files, Internet Radio, Windows Media, Real Audio and a Stock Market Ticker.
  • Continuous Monitoring – Some monitoring solutions only check streaming media files periodically throughout the day. While somewhat effective, for maximum control over your media stability, it’s imperative that your monitoring solution be capable of providing continuous monitoring of high value streams, such as imported video or audio files.
  • Variety of Detection Capabilities – Streaming media files are some of the most dynamic forms of visual content a website can host. Because of this, there are several unique detection capabilities a monitoring software must include. Necessary levels of detection include:
  • Black Screen or Static Video
  • Dead-Air or Loss of Audio
  • Missing media streams (audio and video)
  • Data packet loss
  • Changes in bandwidth usage
  • Automatic Alerts – Much like any other monitoring element, the alert options within a streaming media monitoring solution is imperative for its overall effectiveness. Because of this, it’s imperative that your monitoring solution provides automatic alerts should bandwidth usage dip or rises above its pre-set thresholds (baseline). Make sure that the monitoring tool is able to send alerts via a variety of platforms. For example, email alerts for non-critical errors or SMS/Phone alerts for critical errors (such as a complete loss of media). Another vital alarm feature is repeated alarms should an alert go unattended to for longer than 15 to 20 minutes. This is imperative for critical errors or issues.

 

The Value of Third Party Website Monitoring Options

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While some websites avoid the use of third party content, the majority of dynamic and user-intensive website enterprises utilizes some form of third party content. While the exact type of content can greatly vary, the need for stability and performance is universal. Because third party content can be difficult to stabilize as it relies on an outside source for some of its operation and performance metrics, a website monitoring solution can provide the necessary oversight and monitoring to ensure all third party content performs in a stable manner.

Third Party Content – Defined

Third party content can be found in almost all business and personal websites. Such activity with a third party element can include social network applications, such as a comment box, or advertising from a third party ad server. Typically, the use of third party content is designed to increase the level of interaction between users and the website. While these options enhance user engagement, they also cause a unique set of challenges for website administrator’s.

While your entire platform may be highly functional and stable, if a third party element is under-performing, the entire performance of a page or website can be negatively affected. However, this is where it’s helpful to have a solution for monitoring a website. Through the use of a monitoring solution, third party content can be monitored separately from your website. This ensures that any components that are under-performing are isolated for review. It’s only with this isolation that an administrator can determine the root cause of its errors or lack of performance. Because the use of third party content can be quite heavy, it’s imperative that you continually monitor the effectiveness and stability of these elements.

Establishing an Effective Monitoring Solution

Although there are many different techniques and methods used to monitor third party content, the most effective way to accomplish this goal is through a process known as page virtualization.

Page virtualization is the process of isolating specific third party elements, filtering these elements away from its hosted page, and establishing a “virtual” page to monitor the functionality and performance of each specific third party component. For example, a page within your website utilizes three primary third party components: CDN Host, Advertising Host and a Social Media Comment Box.

Upon activation, the monitoring solution extracts each of these three third party elements and establishing an individual “page” for each component. Once isolated, the monitoring solution is capable of delving into the inner-workings of the element. After a series of pre-set or customized tests, reports regarding content availability and performance are delivered. This is perhaps the fastest, and most effective, way of keeping a close eye on the performance of third party content and correlating its performance to the overall stability of a website.