We never thought that having a slow web response was in any way fun, either for the end-user, or for the IT manager. On the contrary, having things work fast is thrilling. From our experience, providing an IT manager a quiet life, in a very easy and simple way, is very exciting news.
The IT world is getting vastly more complex. A typical web page in 1999 was served from a single location, now there are at least 10 different companies involved in delivering that page and its content.
Take TheEconomist.com for example: Their web site loads on average in 15 seconds, calls 44 different hostnames and downloads 1,888,018 bytes.
There are many reasons why this happened: moving static content to CDNs, relying on APIs to pull partner content, using a third party DNS infrastructures, using analytics to track visitors, Facebook/Twitter widgets, more interactive ads, and so on. And all these add-ons add complexity, slow sites down or sometimes even break them. But of course IT management will be yelled at if the site is slow, even if 80% of the content is shipped from sources beyond their control! Clearly, IT staff will have to meet ever-tighter targets while losing ever-more control over page content and location.
So both Business and IT need tools that will tell them quickly if there is a problem, and where that problem lies. Rather than circular finger-pointing there is a need for hard data that everyone can trust.
We at Catchpoint are now removing some of that complexity and helping our fellow IT, Ops and Noc Operators. Our recognition of this need came from my personal experience in the same hot-seat, after being woken for yet one more emergency 3am conference call about site reliability and performance.
Why does Performance Monitoring matter?
This week Amazon had a three-hour outage; they lost a lot of money and risked their reputation. If you do not monitor your site for performance and reliability you will lose short-term business and long-term customers.
Stopping this is what drives us. Our ultimate goal is simple: Improving web performance keeps users happy and stops the fighting that goes on between Business and IT groups. When web sites and applications are fast and working everyone wins!
What do you know about monitoring?
I started as a Sales Engineer for DoubleClick and had the privilege of working there for 11 years. I remember I went on a lot of sales calls in the early days where I would have to deal with DoubleClick’s growing pains, and would sometimes end up talking a lot about the weather while giving demos…
Because I complained so much about monitoring and availability I was given the chance to create an industry first, a whole group dedicated to improving DoubleClick’s performance and availability.
From 1999 to 2008 I ran the IT Operations & Quality of Services group. By the time I left, DoubleClick’s availability and performance were impeccable. We succeeded because we focused on metrics that mattered, the business groups were aligned, and we had created a culture where performance monitoring was part of our corporate DNA.
DoubleClick’s team was proud of DART, an engine delivering 16-20 Billion transactions a day. To keep a track on quality and reliability I ended up using a lot of monitoring services (who are now our competitors) – In fact we spent close to $2 Million a year on outside monitoring!
Now Catchpoint Systems has decided to bring new life to an industry that lagged the wider Web environment in the past decade. For example, some of the current monitoring tools out there have the same interface that I saw in 1997! And as the existing vendors have grown and matured they seem to have lost sight of their customers needs, and missed opportunities to tackle new technologies. – i.e. people are tired of having to monitor the monitoring tool!
Even with these issues people have a hard time switching tools and vendors. It is the classic ‘no one gets fired for buying IBM’ mentality.
But there are major changes occurring in the IT world; in particular, cloud computing and the outsourcing of infrastructure. In some novel way, we are going back to the ‘mainframe’, and IT monitoring services will have to adapt.
We at Catchpoint will be there to help during this momentous time.
At some point in your life you need to say, ok enough complaining let me do something about it. I did! Happy 4th of July!