Synthetic monitoring or synthetic testing is a way of ensuring the performance and availability of applications, websites, and IT infrastructure by creating simulated user interactions and generating artificial transactions that mimic real user behavior. This helps organizations preempt issues on response times and application functionalities by emulating user behavior to measure response times, identify potential bottlenecks, and troubleshoot performance issues before they impact actual users. Synthetic monitoring proactively simulates different conditions and scenarios. This helps understand the bounds of ideal performance in terms of high traffic spikes or server failures, to improve user experience, uptime, and resource allocation, ensuring smooth and efficient digital experiences.

Why do you need synthetic testing?

If you’re worried about how your application appears to your end users, you may often find yourself asking these questions:

  • Is my website/application working across regions?
  • Is it throwing an error?
  • Is it experiencing high latency issues?
  • What is the reason behind the high response times in my application?
  • What’s the maximum load that my application can handle?

Imagine constantly wondering if your app/website is throwing errors, lagging like it takes years to perform a single function, or just straight-up not working. Then, when you find that your worst nightmare has come true, imagine not knowing what’s causing it. Put your app-anxieties to rest because synthetic monitoring has the answers to all these questions. Synthetic testing is the first crucial step in ensuring a flawless digital experience. It’s akin to mechanics test-driving a car before putting it out in the market for sale. You need to ensure that your app only exhibits the performance traits that you intend it to show and without any hiccups. By creating artificial transactions, you’ll be able to assess the performance of your websites/apps, check the availability and responsiveness of servers, and simulate extreme usage scenarios to calculate how much stress they can handle.

What are the benefits of synthetic monitoring? 

With synthetics as the forefront of digital excellence established, let us delve into the benefits it offers. Organizations wield the power of synthetic transaction monitoring to ensure the reliability, performance, and availability of their digital services. However, the benefits go beyond mere uptime and speed.


Benefits of synthetic monitoring

  1. Enhanced user experience

Identify performance bottlenecks before they become frustrating loading times with synthetic testing. It scans every nook and corner to reveal flaws in the application that you can optimize to ensure a polished application for your end users.

  1. Proactive issue spotting

Monitoring synthetic transactions helps you identify any patterns in performance that exhibit unusual behavior or degradation. With the right tools, you can even identify the root cause and resolve the issues before they evolve into embarrassing service outages.

  1. Decrease in MTTR

Perceptive synthetic monitoring tools identify the source of issues the moment the issue arises, reducing the mean time to identify (MTTI) and mean time to respond (MTTR). With intelligent tools that employ anomaly detection in its monitoring suites, you can preempt issues before they even arise.

  1. Effective capacity planning

By simulating real-world user scenarios and loads, IT teams gain insights needed to make informed decisions about capacity planning, infrastructure scaling, and resource allocation.

  1. SLA compliance

Synthetics empower organizations to actively maintain service level agreements (SLAs) and service level objectives (SLOs), by continuously monitoring critical metrics against predefined benchmarks, preventing costly violations, and fostering lasting customer trust.

  1. Initial analysis of new environments

If you’re thinking of launching your app in a fresh territory, say a different geographical region or in another language, pretesting it with artificial transactions helps you gauge and verify the transactional functions of your app.


Types of synthetic testing 

synthetic monitoring types

Synthetic testing utilizes a variety of automated simulations to proactively assess the performance and resilience of your applications, websites, and IT infrastructure. Here are some of the types involved in an extensive preliminary digital experience testing effort:

Availability monitoring

The availability and responsiveness of digital infrastructure are assessed through a multi-layered approach. Basic communication pathways are verified via ping tests for initial reachability. Subsequently, HTTP/HTTPS requests are directed to web servers, APIs, and endpoints to evaluate content delivery and response status codes (e.g., 200 OK, 404 Not Found). On the network level, TCP/UDP connectivity checks establish connections on specific ports to confirm service availability and communication integrity.

Performance monitoring

Crucial aspects of web application performance are measured through key metrics like page load time, response time, transaction time, latency, resource utilization, and error rates. These metrics help understand user experience, identify performance bottlenecks, and ensure smooth operations. Page load testing establishes baselines for website scalability, while distributed tracing pinpoints performance issues within complex applications.

Function monitoring

The functionalities of the app are verified by the complete execution of specific transactions or workflows within an application. It ensures key user journeys, such as online purchases or form submissions, function flawlessly and meet defined business requirements. Additionally, stress tests and load tests simulate extreme usage scenarios to determine its breaking point and understand how it behaves under stress.

User Experience (UX) testing

This testing method replicates various user interactions like clicking, form submissions, and complex workflows to ensure a consistent and performant experience across platforms. It safeguards against layout inconsistencies, UI rendering discrepancies, and animation glitches on different browsers and devices.

Compatibility testing

Compatibility testing ensures a seamless user experience across diverse browsers, versions, and devices by testing real user interactions and scenarios.

Challenges of synthetic monitoring 

The complexity of modern applications presents a significant challenge for developers to ensure smooth and reliable user experiences, which also affects the efficacy of synthetic transaction monitoring. Here are some of the challenges involved in the implementation of synthetic testing systems:

  • False noise: While synthetics offer valuable insights, false alerts can be a frustrating and costly issue that are probably caused by complex environments, network fluctuations, or misconfigured thresholds. This results in not detecting real issues or false positives during normal functioning.

  • Script complexity: Synthetic testing requires scripts to be generated and placed in the monitoring application code, which can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. As applications constantly evolve with new features and integrations, scripting user interactions become increasingly complex and may require specialized skills and expertise.

  • Limited realism: The inability of simulated transactions to fully replicate real user behavior can lead to misinformed decisions. Factors like individual user patterns, unpredictable network conditions, and mobile app environment complexities are often difficult to simulate. This can potentially create incomplete or biased performance insights resulting in misinformed decisions.

  • Coverage zone: For organizations with a global user base, achieving comprehensive geographic coverage with synthetic monitoring can be tricky. Limited coverage can leave critical performance issues in certain regions undetected, leading to inaccurate assessments, misinformed decisions, and potentially frustrated users.

 Synthetic monitoring vs. real user monitoring (RUM) 

Synthetic monitoring vs real user monitoring

While both synthetic transaction monitoring and real user monitoring (RUM) track application performance, they do it from different angles. Synthetic transaction monitoring simulates user interactions by generating artificial transactions or requests to measure performance metrics, whereas RUM captures and analyzes actual user interactions in real time, aggregating data from users’ browsers or devices as they navigate through applications or websites.

The level of control synthetic testing offers over testing parameters is greater compared to RUM. It allows you to define test locations precisely, meticulously craft scenarios that mirror real-world user journeys, and tailor scripts to your specific needs. RUM facilitates the comprehensive understanding of user behavior patterns, which helps identify usability issues and optimize user journeys, translating to an increase in user satisfaction, engagement, and conversion rates.

Synthetic monitoring is a powerful method for preliminary performance testing and troubleshooting. But to truly understand how your users experience your application, you need RUM. The wise choice here would be to use a tool that offers both synthetic and RUM. Synthetic transaction monitoring and RUM synergize to deliver comprehensive insights into digital service performance, giving you a 360-degree view into your digital applications.


Use case: Leveraging synthetic testing in gaming apps 

synthetic monitoring use case

Delivering a seamless gaming experience is paramount for captivating players and driving long-term engagement. However, ensuring smooth performance across diverse devices and network conditions can be a complex challenge. This is where synthetic testing emerges as a powerful tool for developers, providing a data-driven approach to optimizing game performance and retention. The first step involves establishing key performance objectives (KPOs) tailored to your specific game. These might include frame rate stability thresholds, network latency benchmarks, and acceptable loading times. By defining these metrics upfront, you can ensure your testing efforts are focused on areas with the most significant impact on player experience.

After choosing a tool that aligns with your KPOs, deploy the monitoring agents across a diverse range of devices and geo-locations. This will serve as a representation of your target player base. The synthetic transaction monitor then simulates the user journey and collects data that can then be visualized in frame rate heat map reports, network latency graphs, and resource utilization metrics to pinpoint performance bottlenecks and identify areas for optimization. These insights empower you to make data-driven decisions for targeted game app improvements, graphics rendering optimizations, and even network infrastructure upgrades.

 Why Applications Manager is the best choice

ManageEngine Applications Manager stands out by addressing two crucial needs in one powerful platform: synthetic monitoring and RUM. This dynamic duo delivers comprehensive visibility into your application’s performance, both proactively and in real-time. Applications Manager’s Real Browser Monitor (RBM) for synthetic testing offers scripting capabilities, multi-step workflows, and load testing, while its RUM provides real-time transaction traces, user journey mapping, and detailed performance analytics. By choosing Applications Manager, you choose to be sapient of underlying operations to identify and preempt potential issues, guaranteeing 24/7 availability and delivering lightning-fast experiences for your users. This translates to a seamless user experience, reduced downtime, and potentially higher conversion rates, boosting your website’s success.

Applications Manager goes beyond basic simulated transaction monitoring, offering a comprehensive digital experience monitoring suite. Its diverse capabilities, like URL monitoring, brand reputation monitoring, webpage analyzer, end user experience monitoring, and application performance monitoring, empower you to address potential issues and deliver frictionless interactions for your users, from website content to brand perception. The support for over 150 technologies ensures holistic monitoring regardless of your infrastructure complexity, allowing you to optimize performance, improve uptime, and deliver a seamless user experience.

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