The performance monitoring market evolved rapidly in the last few years when application monitoring, which was traditionally focused on data centers, moved to the cloud. Furthermore, new pricing models are commoditizing traditional services in favor of more valuable services. In addition, RUM (Real End-user Measurements) has come to the forefront as the de facto standard for performance monitoring. These factors have transformed the market from being feature-stable and resistant to price decline into one that defies easy categorization.
Performance monitoring was a very straightforward category of service just a few years ago. Companies set up programmatic test boxes in data centers around the world and pinged services designated for testing as their business model. Companies like Keynote and Gomez provided these synthetic monitoring services, and these companies were icons in the field, responsible for creating the market. However, there haven’t been many innovations in their services over the years, and competition was always primarily based on price. Because the locations of these servers performing the synthetic monitoring could be discovered, these services were also gamed by smart content delivery networks (CDNs) that wanted good scores. As a result, this lead to cynicism regarding the results, making their data much less effective.
The good news is that when it comes to performance monitoring, things have evolved rapidly in the last few years. The main reasons for this are that application monitoring, which was traditionally data center-centric, has now been brought into the cloud. New pricing models such as Cedexis with its free Radar product are creating a commoditization of the traditional service in favor of a more valuable service (in their case the global CDN load-balancing product Openmix). In addition, Real End User Measurement (RUM) has come to the forefront as the de facto standard for monitoring and is a far cry from the methodology used in the early days by systems like Keynote and Gomez. These three factors have made a market that was feature-stable and resistant to price decline into a completely new market that defies easy categorization.
Today, the competitive landscape is broad, and the features supported vary widely depending on the focus of the company. The prevalence of RUM is also something to take note of, and while the majority of these vendors claim to have some form of RUM, it can be deceptive. The reality is that what is being measured by the RUM also matters. Cedexis for instance measures every CDN (and Cloud) for the purpose of their load balancing solution. These measurements are of specific objects that have been inserted into the CDNs for this purpose. This gives a very clear view of the relative performance across CDNs. Other RUM by some of the other vendors may be more directed at specific customer infrastructure, which could provide more relevant reporting only for a specific customer.
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