Intelligent CIO North America Issue 21 - Page 62

CASE STUDY

Everyone agrees that customer experience is the most important thing . But measuring customer experience online is a daunting task .

Cox Automotive , based in Atlanta , is a collection of companies that help people buy , sell and own cars . The company is also known as Autotrader , Kelley Blue Book or any of dozens of well-known online brands .
“ It ’ s my job to make sure our applications are up and running as our customers expect ,” said Charles Conley , Cox ’ s Manager of IT Operations Technology . “ And , in today ’ s online world , that means I need to know how the applications are performing from anywhere – not just from our corporate offices .”
This is difficult . First , Cox doesn ’ t control every aspect of the solution . Because we live in a world of microservices architecture , some of Cox ’ s applications are supplied by third parties . Cox has no direct visibility into these third-party services .
Further , it isn ' t enough to monitor each individual component . All the specific resources and microservices may be performing normally , and yet an end-user in Terre Haute , Indiana , may still be experiencing poor performance .
“ We need to know how our applications are running at every location we serve ,” said Conley . “ That ’ s a very complex task .”
Traditionally , the answer to this kind of problem is something called synthetic monitoring . That ' s where there are bots continually monitoring applications using precisely the kind of traffic and interaction that a real user would .
The application provider knows what kinds of response times are required , and if a bot sees slower responses , it sends an alert to the provider . This enables the provider to triangulate in order to identify the issue and fix it before users ever experience the problem . This makes sense in practice , but not all synthetic monitoring solutions are architected the same way .
“ Many of the synthetic monitoring solutions place all of their bots in the cloud ,” said Conley . “ But what if one of my users is experiencing a slowdown that is between them and the cloud ?”
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