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Beyond the App: Why NPM is Key to Unlocking User Satisfaction



Solutions Review’s Expert Insights Series is a collection of contributed articles written by industry experts in enterprise software categories. Pavel Minarik of Progress looks beyond simple appsec and network monitoring, and into why NPM is the key to unlocking user satisfaction.

Expert Insights badgeApplications are crucial to the success of every modern business. Whether it’s an online store that grinds to a halt when its website is down or a hospital where doctors need to access digitized patient records before conducting surgery, organizations rely on applications to function. However, when users report slow application response times or outages occur, this can have a paralyzing effect on the entire organization. Recent surveys estimate that the average minute of downtime costs $4,500, with an average outage lasting between 20-60 minutes. Unfortunately, finding the root cause of these issues can be time-consuming, often hindered by IT professionals playing the blame game.

To the user, an application is simply a website or an app that they expect to work. However, for IT professionals, applications consist of various components, including infrastructure, networking, server architecture, application code, databases, and storage. Typically, two to five different teams are responsible for managing these components and ensuring their smooth operation. Regardless of which team handles resolving application experience (AX) and user experience (UX) issues, the network is the interconnecting element that can reveal the root cause and help solve it before the impact becomes irreversible.

One way that companies can tackle this is by deploying network performance monitoring (NPM) technologies. NPM provides insight into the user and application experience, separates the network delay from application delay, and helps IT follow performance-related service level agreements (SLAs).

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NPM: The Key to User Satisfaction

What Is NPM?

Application-aware network performance monitoring (AA-NPM, or NPM for short) is crucial for understanding how fast your apps are running and identifying substandard ones that need to be perfected. Knowing whether your customer-facing apps are slow is especially important to ensure customer satisfaction. NPM measures response times not only for the network but also for databases and the application, separating the network delay from application delay and providing IT with the root cause of performance issues.

An NPM solution can monitor all modern web-based applications. It measures the transport time of the request from a user to the application and tracks the delay. In case of application errors, NPM supplies detailed information, including transaction error, time stamp, user identification, and information about the transaction. Troubleshooting the application is made easy as IT can drill down into the transaction and get general information about the response time, defined SLA, and username. The NPM solution can help identify the problem, which will restore application performance once resolved.

Loss of Productivity Caused by Poor Internet Speed

Suppose users have reported experiencing slow network speeds with websites taking an excessively long time to load. Additionally, remote users are unable to connect to local systems. With a Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) solution, the administrator can promptly verify internet bandwidth utilization by comparing the volume of data transfers to the available capacity. Histograms provide insight into long-term trends.

NPM presents data in a structured manner and facilitates search and filtering based on various data attributes, such as source and destination IP, AS number (autonomous system), protocols, ports, and more. Upon investigating the bandwidth consumption and limiting other users’ activities, the IT team discovered that large amounts of data were being downloaded from an Akamai data center. This indicated that Windows updates were being downloaded from an external source instead of a local server. Next, the administrator found the devices responsible for these downloads and resolved the issue by making a simple configuration change.

The administrator troubleshot the cause of the incident in three clicks and reduced mean time to resolve (MTTR) from an average of 20-60 minutes to 10 minutes. Given that the average outage costs $4,500 per minute (for a 2,500-5,000-employee company), the total savings are $225,000.

Health Insurance Client Portal Speed User Complaints

IT support has been receiving complaints from users regarding application slowness, and some users are even encountering errors. NPM solutions enable the measurement of response times and delays for each user-to-app transaction, supplying aggregated results for simplified analysis. The administrator can sort all transactions within a given period, arranging the list from slowest to fastest.

This analysis reveals that when users access the Payments List page, their average wait time exceeds 24 seconds. Similarly, when users land on the homepage, their average wait time exceeds seven seconds. Ideally, loading a website should not take more than one to two seconds. When investigating network transport time (the time it takes for the data to be transferred over the network to the client) compared to application response time (the time it takes the application to resolve the user request) per individual transactions, it is immediately apparent that the root cause is the application. Developers then know exactly where to focus their interests. There is no ambiguity that leaves space for speculation or the blame game.

The Benefits of NPM to Organizations and Their Customers

In conclusion, network performance monitoring is crucial to ensuring the optimal performance of applications and user experience. The ability to quickly find and resolve issues can save an organization a significant amount of money and prevent reputational damage. With the right NPM solutions, IT professionals can gain insight into the network, databases, and application response times to pinpoint the root cause of performance issues. By adopting NPM, organizations can improve their overall application performance and user experience, ultimately leading to greater customer satisfaction and business success.

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