Real-User Monitoring

How can I get real-user monitoring for my website and applications to track browser, network, and server performance impacts on users?


The Problem

A technology services consulting company provided self-service software solutions on their website to thousands of customers. Outside of their web servers and software design the company had no control over the types of network connections or browsers used by its customers. Much like an ecommerce retailer the company had a variety of customers on every type of device from mobile, tablet and PCs. The company faced three main problems: first, they had no way to differentiate user experience issues from software and web page design to network, delivery or end-user issues. Second, they had no good way to measure incremental changes they made to the site. Third, even though they had some end-user monitoring, they had no good way to widely distribute the data to all of the stakeholders in real-time.

Desired Outcome

  • Discover if users are experiencing issues on a website
  • Answer the question about how the website design and browser usage contributes to user experience times
  • Visualize the entire delivery chain from server to browser and back

A technology services consulting company provided self-service software solutions on their website to thousands of customers. Outside of their web servers and software design the company had no control over the types of network connections or browsers used by its customers.


The Solution

The services company found a free solution to their issue. They were already ExtraHop customers and the development manager for the operations team discovered the ExtraHop integration with the Boomerang beacon mechanism. Boomerang, a free and Open Source monitoring tool provides the ability to collect client-side load-time metrics directly from the browser, and send them to a central server for analysis. The company had been looking for these types of real-user monitoring tools but they had been prohibitively expensive or lacking in key features such as visualization.

The operations team started by using their full proxy load balancer to dynamically insert the Boomerang beacon JavaScript into all of the pages of their website. This gave them a stream of user experience data, directly from users' browsers. Next, the company downloaded the free Boomerang bundle from the ExtraHop forums and applied it to their ExtraHop platform. Within minutes the ExtraHop Boomerang Application Inspection (AI) trigger was analyzing the Boomerang data in real time and displaying all of the information to in an end-to-end dashboard with browser, network and server information all in one place.

With this information the company had unprecedented visibility into the performance and user experience of their web-delivered software. These were the key metrics the company now had at their disposal:

  • Perceived Load Time: for each request, this measured not just network transit time and server processing time, but also the time it took for the user's browser to do all the work it needs to do in order to display a web page.
  • Browser/Platform Performance: this region displayed the total number of web requests the company received, and perceived load time broken down by both browser and platform over a specified time period.
  • W3C Navigation Timing: this view was particularly interesting to the web developers. The W3C Navigation Timing API is implemented in all modern browsers and gave the developers an inside look at each step a browser took to display their web page. These metrics gave the developers insight into exactly which parts of their site needed work to increase website performance.

User Impact

With the ExtraHop analysis of the Boomerang beacons the company was able to solve all three of its key issues. The company was able to do the following:

  • Differentiate user experience issues from software and web page design issues and network issues.
  • Measure the performance and user-experience impacts of incremental changes they made to the website or application.
  • Create accounts for all of the key stakeholders and share all of this data freely within the company, eliminating tens of thousands of dollars in yearly licensing costs for commercial end user monitoring software.
Contact us Try our free online demo