A basic real user monitoring tool is no longer enough to handle the complexities of the modern web. Today’s sophisticated applications call for a RUM solution that is equally sophisticated. If you are already using a RUM solution or are evaluating multiple vendors, then here are some points to consider. With so many options available how do you choose the best real user monitoring solution?

In previous blog posts, we have discussed in detail about real user monitoring (RUM), how it complements synthetic and why you must include RUM to create the ideal monitoring strategy. In this blog we dive into what capabiliites you should look for in a real user monitoring tool.

Features and functionality

Different companies have different requirements when it comes to RUM. The RUM tools available in the market today offer a variety of features and functionality. Comparing RUM solutions based on the features offered should be a priority when evaluating different tools.

A basic real user monitoring tool should:

  • Capture user journey
  • Capture standard W3C metrics as well as custom metrics defined by the business
  • Capture customer engagement metrics including conversion rates, bounce rates, cart abandonment rates, etc.

Advanced RUM solutions aim to improve and optimize business processes. To achieve this RUM should:

  • Capture user data including device type, browser type, ISP, geo-location, etc.
  • Identify processes in the application that require optimization
  • Detect outages and performance trends
  • Alert relevant teams when there is a performance anomaly
  • Estimate impact business due to downtime or a performance-related incident to help negotiate SLA breaches.

In addition to these advanced functionalities, a real user monitoring tool should provide intuitive alerting capabilities. Alerts ensure any incident is immediately addressed and helps reduce the MTTR (Mean Time to Resolve).

Implementation options

Ease of implementation and usability are the first two factors to consider when opting for a performance analytics tool. There are multiple ways to integrate RUM with an application, so you need to know:

  • How easy is it to integrate the RUM tool with your application?
  • What are the pre-requisites for implementation?
  • What environments (software/hardware) are supported?
  • Is an SDK available for mobile apps?

RUM is usually implemented using JavaScript snippets. The script is added to the application code so, depending on the complexity of the application it may require some level of customization. For example, you can choose which pages to monitor in your application and embed the code only on those specific pages.

Unified monitoring or standalone?

Performance monitoring services provide visibility into every process in the application to optimize the application delivery chain. RUM is just one of the tools that make up the digital experience monitoring space. Combining RUM with other monitoring tools provides insight into the end user experience along with every process and component in the application.  Also, choosing only those monitoring tools that you need helps build a more streamlined and affordable monitoring strategy.

Whether you plan to use just RUM or implement other monitoring tools such as synthetic monitoring, it is important to evaluate the value these tools provide.

Data handling

A big differentiator between RUM tools is the way data is managed; this includes the frequency at which the data is collected and the period for which the data is stored.

Retaining the RUM data for longer periods allow users to plot historical trends and extrapolate current trends. This is an important aspect of data analysis. It is also important to understand exactly how the data is captured or sampled. Is the RUM tool capturing and reporting every visit? Or is the tool capturing every visit but reporting only a certain number of visits? These are features that must be either customizable or in-built. So, it is recommended to know precisely how the RUM tool handles data.

API functionality

One of the advantages of using a performance monitoring tool is the ability to visualize and analyze data. This helps understand trends and identify areas that require optimization. RUM data can yield valuable insights, but there are innumerable data points to consider, and the data analysis can quickly become a herculean task.

APIs can be a gamechanger when evaluating different RUM tools. It brings in much-needed extensibility to RUM data analysis and visualization. It gives the user the power to create custom charts and data comparisons. APIs also help integrate data from multiple analysis tools so that you can correlate business metrics with application performance.

Data reporting and visualization

In the world of performance analytics, data that cannot be translated into meaningful reports is nothing but random numbers. The reporting functionality of the RUM tool is an important feature. The report types available and customizability can make a lot of difference to data analysis.

In addition, it should be easy to export the RUM data in a format that can be easily imported or used in other tools and dashboards.

Advanced RUM solutions support grouping data based on multiple parameters such as user location, device type, network type, ISP, etc. An added advantage is the ability to set up custom metrics to group data based on the user requirement. These details help build comprehensive reports.

Data visualization is another indispensable feature. RUM data is used to plot graphs and charts to understand underlying performance trends and identify performance anomalies.

Licensing

Companies usually prefer to spend money on tools that make a difference to the business and its success. Every industry in the digital space understands the value that monitoring tools add, so there is no longer a debate around the need for investing in a solid monitoring strategy.

Opting to use RUM alone or combining it with other monitoring tools (such as Synthetic monitoring) is a choice you need to make based on your monitoring needs. For example, there are monitoring companies packaging RUM along with other digital experience monitoring tools as a free add-on service. There are also companies offering RUM services based on data sampling, for example, do you need data for every page in the application? Or do you want only a subset of the captured data?

Understanding the different licensing options available can help you pick a RUM solution that adds value to your monitoring strategy while saving money.

Conclusion

When evaluating real user monitoring tools available in the market today, it is important to first understand the value that RUM adds to your monitoring strategy. The features offered in different RUM tools may vary, but you can decide which solution works for you based on the points we discussed in this blog. In short, an advanced RUM solution is not limited to performance data aggregation and correlation, it must go beyond basic monitoring and

  • Provide an expansive dataset that can be sliced and diced
  • Include custom and inbuilt data visualizations
  • Include custom and inbuilt data reporting
  • Provide flexible implementation methods
  • Provide APIs that adds extensibility to the monitoring tool

Learn more about RUM, and the features Catchpoint RUM platform offers, download our infographic.