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What is Synthetic Monitoring? Why does your organization need it?

What is Synthetic Monitoring? Why does your organization need it?

Anshuma Tirthani
 min read
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Successful websites and applications largely depend on their performance. If you wish to provide your clients with a quality digital experience, you need to ensure that your applications are running smoothly at all times. Having an application that runs well regardless of visitor location, traffic, or internet connectivity is no longer a nice-to-have feature; it's a must-have. 

There are various methods for keeping an eye on your APIs, online, and mobile applications, and user activity, but synthetic monitoring is among the most widely used. This article will help you get started with synthetic monitoring by explaining what it is, why it's important and how it works.

What is synthetic monitoring? 

Synthetic monitoring, often called synthetic testing, is a useful tool for ensuring that your applications are functioning properly and in the event that they are not, for swiftly diagnosing and fixing the problem. It is a method for keeping a check on functional and performance issues by using simulated user actions. Some of the most common functional issues include application crashes and non-responsive or hanging applications. On the other hand, performance issues can be slow loading times or slow APIs that can be rectified with synthetic monitoring. 

Synthetic monitoring tools have become an integral aspect of application performance monitoring and it’s best to have an active synthetic monitoring system to detect problems before they create a big issue. Synthetic monitoring solutions can provide you with important data about your application’s performance, constantly check in on the availability of your application, and concentrate on the smallest and the largest types of business transactions such as filling out a web form or making a purchase. 

How does synthetic monitoring work?

To test how well your application works under normal conditions, synthetic monitoring uses robot clients to issue simulated real user-like transactions. A user's activity across your application is mimicked by server calls and scripts. You can set them to run at different intervals, such as every 15 minutes or immediately in response to an event.

Whether or not an error occurred during monitoring determines how many stages are needed in the process. The following are the basic steps involved in synthetic monitoring:

  1. A checkpoint is selected by the monitoring system and it is then given the instruction to perform the process.
  2. Synthetic monitoring tools capture data that is then used to determine if the system is up to par in terms of performance and availability.
  3. Depending upon the type of monitoring needed, the monitoring software makes contact, and analyses the response generated through it.
  4. Following a response from your application, the robot client will communicate the outcome to the monitoring infrastructure.
  5. The client will be prompted to repeat a synthetic test by the monitoring system if an error occurs during a planned run. 
  6. If the second round of testing also reveals an issue, the monitoring system will treat it as confirmed and notify the people responsible.

Synthetic monitoring systems include a wide range of configurations that teams can adjust to meet the needs of their organization. You can deploy a robot client to a computer outside the firewall to understand how well an application is performing, or you can install a robot client on a system inside the firewall to verify that everything is functioning as intended. 

Monitoring tools can be issued from either a single, designated synthetic monitoring client browser or from multiple browsers on different servers to get a more accurate picture of the site's availability and responsiveness around the world. In this manner, you can track server and application performance consistently and reliably throughout, regardless of whether or not users are actively interacting with the system. 

In addition, synthetic monitoring can be run in private test environments before releasing new features or during regular maintenance, helping teams discover potential issues before real users have a chance to encounter them. 

What’s the difference between synthetic and real user monitoring (RUM)?

Real user monitoring, another method for gauging an app's performance, is frequently compared to synthetic monitoring. The term "real monitoring" refers to a method of gathering information from actual users rather than simulated experiences. An organization's real user monitoring implementation may involve putting SDK into a website in order to collect performance statistics in the background as real users interact with the site.

On the other hand, synthetic monitoring is conducted in a controlled or production environment by executing predefined scripts on your website to monitor service availability and evaluate performance against competitors, and response times. The data it sends back is not a true representation of real users; it is just a simulation.

While an app is still in development, synthetic monitoring can assist find temporary performance issues that could negatively affect the user experience. Potential performance concerns can be addressed immediately if they are spotted early enough. In contrast, real-user monitoring can inform an organization about performance trends over time only after an application has been released to the production.

Real User Monitoring is activated when a user visits a page containing the RUM scripts and an issue can be resolved only after it has been experienced by a user. Therefore, real user monitoring is considered reactive monitoring. On the other hand, as part of synthetic monitoring, a connection is established automatically at predetermined intervals. In other words, synthetic monitoring does not need users to participate and is considered a proactive method of keeping a check on your applications. An organization can eliminate issues before they reach real users with the help of synthetic monitoring.

Benefits of Synthetic Monitoring

  1. Detect performance issues immediately: Users will often exit an application if they are facing trouble or not having a good experience while using it. Synthetic performance monitoring aims to identify issues before your users do. It involves simulating user behaviors and performing tests from several geographical places to create a "virtual" monitoring environment. Thus, no matter how many actual visitors you have, it will continue to monitor your APIs, web and mobile apps, and web pages. If you use synthetic monitoring, you can find out if your website is up and running, how quickly it is doing this, if your most important transactions are going through as planned, and where a slowdown or failure could be occurring.

  1. Be prepared for peak usage periods: Your applications are built to provide a smooth and fast browsing experience to your visitors; yet, if your traffic suddenly increases unexpectedly, your server needs to be able to keep up. With synthetic performance monitoring, you can simulate user loads to see how your server performs under pressure. Once you have this information, you can begin to formulate a plan to make your site and apps scalable.

  2. Evaluate even the smallest processes: Checking the availability and functionality of your applications is not enough when you are seeking to achieve superior app performance. User activities like signing in or signing up, filling out forms, adding products to a shopping cart, making payments, etc., can be monitored by stimulating them via synthetic monitoring.

  1. Keep an eye on third-party services: Multiple external services and components are required for modern apps to function. Plugins for site search and recommendations, third-party analytics tools, and payment processing services are some of the most frequently integrated third-party services. By using synthetic monitoring, users of third-party services can keep tabs on service level objectives, performance drops, and other bottlenecks so that service providers can be held liable.

  2. Test before going live for real users: Before organizations launch new features or offer something new to their audience, synthetic monitoring can analyze the performance of their applications. To guarantee availability and performance, synthetic tracking can be used to proactively mimic traffic to the area that needs to be evaluated. A comprehensive synthetic monitoring system will collect data on browser performance, including things like initial paint time, above-the-fold load times, and specific object load times.


The success of your company is tied closely to your applications. To check their accessibility, functionality, and response time, synthetic monitoring must be used constantly. A company can get instant notifications whenever anything goes wrong and take action before it makes a large impact. In turn, it can reduce mean time to detection (MTTD) and thereby reduce resolution times remarkably with synthetic monitoring. 

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