Beyond the Perimeter: Why Application-Aware Network Monitoring Matters
August 09, 2023

Mark Troester

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The modern world relies on applications: every business, regardless of industry, depends on them to varying degrees. Whether you operate a hospital, an e-commerce business, a farm or a factory, applications play a central role in day-to-day operations. Even a few minutes of application downtime can have disastrous consequences.

Consider this: according to a recent study, every minute of downtime costs businesses an average of $4,500, and outages typically last between 20 and 60 minutes. This means that at the very least, an outage can cost your company around $90,000 and potentially much more.

While most businesses focus on endpoint and perimeter protection to combat such incidents, there are many other factors that can disrupt an application beyond conventional perimeter breaches.

To effectively manage application experience (AX) and user experience (UX), businesses need greater visibility into the networks. This can be achieved through application-aware network performance monitoring (NPM) technologies.

How NPM Works

For many companies, application performance is a black box. They often become aware of issues only when complaints start pouring in, and even then, identifying the root cause can be time-consuming — a luxury most companies cannot afford.

NPM changes the game. It enables you to identify which applications are running below standard speed and measure response times for both the network and the application itself. This allows for quick differentiation between network delays and application delays when troubleshooting.

If the problem lies with the application, NPM provides IT teams with comprehensive information to resolve the issue. This includes response times for applications, transport times for the network, number of transactions, server response time, network transport time, responses in percentiles (maximum/minimum/average), number of concurrent users, and more.

Of course, not all applications require monitoring. NPM should be employed selectively, focusing on critical applications that are vital to daily business operations — such as customer-facing e-commerce applications. Additionally, it is crucial to integrate the information provided by NPM with the broader IT monitoring, management and surveillance ecosystem. In the realm of system security and operational efficiency, everything is interconnected.

NPM in Action

Let's consider a hypothetical scenario: you run a health insurance company. Thousands of users access your application daily to schedule doctor's appointments, make payments, and more. Suddenly seemingly out of nowhere, the application stops functioning. Complaints and calls flood in, and people are understandably frantic—after all, healthcare is of utmost importance.

At this point, many IT departments initiate the blame game or start grasping blindly for answers they know they may not find. However, with NPM in place, the next step is simple: consult the list.

What is the list? NPM solutions measure the response times and delays for every user-to-app transaction, aggregating them into a sortable list from slowest to fastest. This means that IT can swiftly identify the root cause of the problem and take immediate action to find a solution.

In 2023, seamlessness has become a basic consumer expectation. When a consumer places an online order, they expect to have the option of receiving it within a day or two. When they request a car, they expect it to arrive within minutes. And when they open an app, they expect it to launch within seconds — no more than one or two. Exceeding this threshold puts your company's reputation at stake. By implementing NPM, businesses can ensure that when application issues arise, they can promptly rectify them, keeping customers satisfied and preventing more severe consequences.

Mark Troester is VP of Strategy at Progress
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