Like email, the Web browser has thoroughly redefined the role of computers both at work, as well as in the dissemination and consumption of information. Indeed, the trend has continued even with the advent of BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices), as users continue accessing Web content through their smartphones and tablets.
Thanks to the continued popularity of services such Google Apps, the newly rebranded Office Online productivity suite, and other Web-based applications, the importance of the Web doesn’t look like it will diminish any time soon.
Praveen Manohar, Head Geek at SolarWinds is in complete agreement on this point. “With digitalization taking over just about everything, users expect ubiquitous and continuous Internet connectivity,” he told me. “Warning users on occasions of trailing connectivity and providing a valid reason for non-availability of connection, aids in adding value to the user’s experience. And, to be able to achieve this, continuous Web monitoring is mandatory. ”
“Even the slightest web downtime can have huge impacts on business operations and reputation” – Praveen Manohar, Head Geek SolarWinds
With this in mind, the savvy IT manager or CIO would do well to ensure that their users have access to the optimal web experience. Unavoidably, the first step towards delivering an optimal experience is really by monitoring a number of services that are closely tied to Web browsing. Doing this gives IT department the capability to preempt slowdowns, and to quickly identify bottlenecks for faster rectification.
To help you along, I highlight four areas that would benefit from the implementation of monitoring.
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Though outages are straightforward matters that are quickly evident, intermittent connectivity or poor Internet performance may be harder to identify, especially if there are no IT staffers at the affected branch location.
“Even the slightest web downtime can have huge impacts on business operations and reputation,” noted Manohar. Productivity hit aside, you can be sure that users will notice, and make their displeasure felt through both direct and indirect channels.
Where Web services are concerned, the issue could sometimes be pinned down to an overloaded transparent proxy implemented by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This can probably be quickly identified with the right monitoring tools. Should the cause be traced down to infrastructure limitation, an alternative option is to tap into Internet connectivity offered through a second ISP, or through a second ADSL line.
Though this may appear tangential to offering a reliable Web experience, the DNS, or Domain Name Service plays the crucial role of resolving Web addresses into the final IP address. An overloaded DNS server may be slow in responding, causing Web browsers to in turn take longer than usual when loading web pages. Without proper monitoring tools, a problem on this front is next to impossible to identify and fix.
Adware and malware
In some cases, a poor Web experience could be narrowed down to the presence of adware or malware. The former typically relies on vulnerabilities in cross-site scripting to covertly inject ads into an active frame. On its part, the latter may entail malware “phoning” home to a central server, or to conduct a host of shenanigans that suck up a huge amount of bandwidth.
Security implications aside, expect the user experience to be severely compromised in both scenarios. This problem could almost certainly be nipped in the bud though, with proper monitoring and analyzing of network traffic for suspicious patterns.
Offer a strategic view of consumption
Finally, network-monitoring tools can deliver detailed statistics of Web usage in the company. This could be used to justify an upgrade of the Internet bandwidth by pegging it to an increase in the number of employees or to the use of company-sanction Web services. In addition, non-business related usage such as excessive video and audio streaming, perhaps even outright abuse of company resources could also be identified on a strategic level.