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The Benefits of Real-User Monitoring

July 6, 2020
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Have you ever wondered how real-user monitoring (RUM) could help your website perform better, especially when it comes to DNS? You may be familiar with different types of website analytics, but real-user monitoring is different.

It provides unique and specialized data that can give you new insights into the performance of your site.

What is Real-User Monitoring?

Real-user monitoring is a technology that allows administrators to see precisely how actual visitors are interacting with a website or domain.

Whereas typical analytics can give you insight into page visits, conversion rates, click paths, and demographics, real-user monitoring offers a deeper level of technical specificity, allowing you to diagnose and solve problems that you may not otherwise know about.

RUM can capture this critical data because a piece of javascript (RUM Beacon) is placed on your website. It loads and runs as the page loads on a visitor’s device. It immediately starts collecting the data and feeding it to the RUM dashboard.

In many ways, it is like getting a survey of the user experience without needing to interfere with the user.

Real-User Monitoring and DNS

Because real-user monitoring receives data directly from real users, it provides information administrators typically would not have access to.

Unlike any other analysis, RUM captures every moment of the user experience. From the initial HTTP request to content loading in the user’s browser. This provides a lot of benefits when trying to optimize parts of the visitor experience unseen by the user and by most analytics methods.

In the realm of DNS (Domain Name Service), this is the only way to get information specific enough to point to problems in your DNS configuration or help you fine-tune them in close to real-time.

Real-User Monitoring

You can view granular details about traffic and response times based on how your site or app is actually loading on browsers. The data includes more than just load times but rich data like DOM duration, render duration, time to the first byte, and page ready time.

All of this is sortable by geographic region, device type, operating system, and browser. In the U.S. and Australia, the data goes as deep as state or province, giving an even more accurate view of issues that may impact your site’s performance.

How Can Real-User Monitoring Improve DNS Performance?

With data in hand, administrators can use the information in their DNS configurations to optimize the user experience even earlier in the page load flow.

This is especially true if we use the specific data in tandem with additional community RUM metrics collected from other sites with the RUM Beacon installed. This gives an even clearer picture of how your DNS configuration may be impacting your load times and user experiences.

To gain optimal performance, the next step is using the data in your DNS configurations.

Real-User Monitoring and Traffic Steering

Many of the issues impacting performance and load time are often localized and sometimes temporary. You can steer your users clear of those performance blockages to make real-time, intelligent traffic steering adjustments.

Traffic steering decisions can be made using real-time data from your own users or by tapping into a community data set. The process, although complicated, can be seen through three clear steps.

First, the user’s device, attempting to connect to a site or web app, makes a DNS request.

Second, the appropriate RUM data is polled and analyzed based on the user location and other information.

Third, the appropriate DNS record is returned, giving the user an optimized route to the requested resource. The user gets the best possible experience with the least possible latency.

Why Does it Matter?

There is a lot of practical value in real-user monitoring for DNS. In a hyper-competitive marketplace, speed is king. While web pages are expected to load in two seconds or less, interest actually begins to wane after 1000 milliseconds—every millisecond matters.

People want fast, reliable connections and load times for websites and apps. Even the most modest slowdowns can cost engagement and revenue.

Websites and web-based applications are becoming more sophisticated and have more potential latencies throughout the chain that delivers content from the backend to the user’s device.

Using real-user monitoring for DNS can mitigate delays and latencies that can happen before your potential users even get to your site. Your developers and engineers can optimize every last thing, but if you are losing users due to traffic issues further upstream, their work won’t make any difference.

Finally, with real-user monitoring, you will have all the information across the entirety of the user visit.

Saving Milliseconds and Avoiding Bigger Trouble

On a typical day, proper implementation of real-user monitoring for DNS will offer the best possible performance for users. But when things go wrong, the impact can be even more powerful.

Regional outages or events that rapidly increase bandwidth usage can cause critical issues for organizations that need access to data and lost revenue for companies that count on reliable traffic.

This is where the power of intelligent DNS steering and real-user monitoring come into play. Because RUM is collecting data from users in real time, DNS adjustments can be made before anyone is aware of the problem.

Real-User Monitoring is an Essential Part of Any Optimization Strategy

With the increasing number of moving parts built into websites and apps, the ever-growing global internet infrastructure, and the growing competition for users’ attention, organizations will continue to look for ways to enhance performance.

While latencies can occur at nearly every point of the user experience, real-user monitoring offers the best data to identify those issues and, when necessary, solve them on a DNS level.

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