Monthly Archives: January 2014

Use sitespeed.io to Analyze your Website Performance and Optimization

Sitespeed.io is a really wonderful open source tool that automatically provides a rich set of information about Web site performance and how well Web pages are optimized versus best practices. Sitespeed.io can crawl all of the pages on Web site or just the Web pages you wish. It’s a little more complicated than some of the other free tools (link) I have been sharing. Let’s call this a pro-sumer tool rather than a consumer tool. But really, if you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves just a little – it’s very worth it.

Sitespeed.io can also crawl multiple sites allowing you to compare yourself to your key competitors. Differences in how fast your Web site feels of just a quarter or half second can have dramatic affects on conversion and retention meaning this stuff is important to the business!

Let’s take a look at what you get before providing a couple of helpful tips to help you get it running for yourself.

You get a reasonably comprehensive set of reports starting with a scorecard-like summary that provides a high-level scorecard about presenting key Web site optimization and performance metrics.

ss_web_optimization_scorecard

The detailed summary page statistically analyzes all of the optimization, content, and performance metrics.

ss_detail_web_optimization_scores

What really caught my eye were the rich Web performance and user experience data provided that are available in the latest web browsers (Chrome 30+ and IE 11) courtesy of the w3c timings API. If you are a web performance geek like me this should make you say wow!

ss_web_performance_metrics

An analysis of each individual page is provided too.

ss_Web_page_optimization_performance

There are many ways this tool can be used to help you improve site quality and performance. As part of the QA process sitespeed would be an excellent part of the tool-chain for verification that changes haven’t negatively affected optimization scores or created performance issues. Marketing should be using this tool to benchmark key site functions against core competitors to improve conversion and loyalty. The web operations team can use this as a very capable monitoring function. And for those of you out there actually doing Continuous Integration (CI), these metrics should be automatically gathered and analyzed at every build.

Sitespeed.io is really the glue and HTML report output that is consolidated from some other really great open source tools such as Yahoo’s Yslow, phantom.js, and browsertime.  These are command-line tools so you’ll need to be comfortable at a terminal screen. I configured this on a 5 year old Macbook Pro that had a fresh install of OS X Mavericks.

First you will need to install Xcode, developer tools, and homebrew. This guide was very helpful.

Before continuing you’ll want to install the latest Java from www.java.com.

Now you’re ready to follow the straightforward documentation from sitespeed.io to install and use.

If you are involved with web performance, website optimization or user experience and you’re comfortable at a terminal prompt you really should give this one a whirl.

Ken

Related links:

Free tools
xcode on appstore
sitespeed.io
homebrew for Mac
browsertime
w3c timings reference

Healthcare.gov Was a Typical Enterprise Rollout. No Big Suprise!

I’ve been listening to the ongoing Healthcare.gov conversation since it was limpingly launched in September of last year. The poor planning, mis-teps and failures have given the media and technology community a great opportunity to share every little detail about the day to day ongoings as well as opinions for how it could have or should have been done.

But really…was Heathcare.gov really all that different from any typical large-scale enterprise systems rollout?

It did’t work right or at all for the first few weeks. Then things improved some but more work needed to be done. And it is hard to anticipate the real world completely in test. Perhaps they should have had real users test drive it before opening it to the public. Real users are not already indoctrinated in the system like QA people and have fresh eyes to see problems. Can you say uTest?

How many stories have we heard about a public company faulting their new implementation of ERP for impacting quarterly results or scrapping the project completely? I have heard several.

Like a typical enterprise system deployment of yore, it was devoid of Agile practice, web-scale readiness and unable to keep up with today’s need for real-time business…even if that was the expectation.

Did anyone really expect the government to deliver as if they were a Velocity Conference headline speaker? Really?

This is just a little post to share that I’ve been thinking about for a while.

What do you think?

Ken

Cisco Application Visiblity and Control – What’s in it for me?

Cisco’s NBAR2 delivers detailed visibility into application performance and prioritization

A long long time ago in a galaxy far away…
I read a research note from Gartner (circa 2001) that suggested deep packet inspection (DPI) would render other forms of measuring application performance less meaningful.

Has that day come?

Maybe, maybe not, but this gets us a lot closer and the data could prove invaluable providing metrics, diagnostic, and deep-dive data to application performance processes within an enterprise or service provider network.

With the flurry of news over the last week about vendors (ManageEngine, CA, Plixer) leveraging this new application performance data I had to take a closer look. What I found was incredibly interesting.

AVC stands for application visibility and control. It is Cisco’s built in capability for discovering and controlling applications on the network. Leveraging NBAR2, Cisco’s next generation of DPI, more than 1000 applications are recognized out of the box, and this data is available just like standard netflow data for visualization in Cisco’s tools or 3rd party tools.

The demand for bandwidth consumption in the enterprise is growing along with video, mobile and cloud. While this is often good for business it can be challenging for operations who need visibility into which applications are running on the network, performance metrics by application, and a way to manage and prioritize to control the end-user experience.

How many times have you walked around your office and seen too many desktops watching something on youtube? Listening to music streaming from youtube is not the most productive use of bandwidth I think.

NBAR2 provides visibility at the application level for collection of performance metrics such as:
– breakdown of applications in detail going accross the network
– by IP, by port, by application
– in-bytes
– in-packets
– in interface
– out interface
– out bytes
– out packets
– response time
– application delay
– network delay
– client delay
– server delay

Because AVC is built into the latest gear (ASR 1000 and ISR G2 routers) it may eliminate the need for other costly DPI hardware currently used to measure application performance or shape traffic.

Check out this very short video demo of ActionPacked Networks net flow reporting tool showing the new application performance data.

This data is awesome and needs to be accessible to APM tools to diagnose performance issues as well as fed into analytics (ITOA) engines that perform anomaly detection and correlation.

AVC also supports prioritization of applications using QoS to improve user experience for critical applications and enforce fair-use policies.

Ken

Related links:

Cisco AVC FAQ
Cisco AVC Knowledge Portal
Dr. Netflow doing a quick demo

Making Sense of Customer Experience (CX) , User Experience (UX) and Application Performance Management (APM)

One thing I have always been a little nit-picky about is clarity of communication. The words customer experience, user experience and application performance are used in so much marketing and promotional language that it can be easy to lose site of what those terms actually mean.

Customer experience, often abbreviated as CX, is a customer’s perception of their entire relationship with your organization. It’s their memory and emotional assessment of the history of each and every touchpoint they have had over the duration of your engagement together. CX can also refer to a single interaction when thinking more granularly.

Looking at it from the organizational perspective, CX is the planning, delivery and management of every aspect of each individual customer journey in support of customer behaviors such as discovery, evaluation, purchase, post-purchase evaluation, and experience sharing.

Who owns the customer experience in your organization?

User experience, often abbreviated as UX, is a subset of CX. It is the customer’s perception of their entire digital relationship with your organization. It is the sum of their feelings about the history of their online interactions with you through the web, smartphone app, and social media. From an organizational perspective, UX also focusses on designing and managing the digital touch points , or perhaps just influencing with regards to social media.

Digital is increasingly paramount and cannot be separated from your business, brand and CX strategies.

Why are CX and UX so important now?

Because businesses sell products and services but people buy experiences! Because the features and benefits of the products and services you sell can be commoditized, delivering memorable experiences worth sharing cannot. CX and UX are the moat that you build and use to defend your market position, take on new markets, or create entirely new ways of delivering the experiences people desire.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be called CX or UX but rather PX for people experience!

So where does application performance management (APM) fit in? It is a big part of managing the digital experience and supporting most of the non-digital experiences people have with businesses. APM is the monitoring and management of software application for availability and performance. The job of APM is to identify application problems and support quick diagnoses so expected services levels can be maintained.

Of course, software applications directly support and influence most digital journeys. But have you thought about how they indirectly influence many brick and mortar or supporting capabilities. If you talk to an employee at the customer service desk to ask if a product is in stock they are using a software application to look it up, and let’s not even get started on the complex supply chain and logistics involved to stock the shelves at any big box retailer.

APM are the monitoring and processes your organization has in place to ensure the systems that support the business and translating all those metrics into business value or PX.

I had a bit of an awakening as it relates to – can I use my new word ;) – PX, but that’s for another post. That sounds like my next job – CPXO – Chief People Experience Officer!

Ken

ManageEngine Debuts Cisco AVC Monitoring, iPad App, Network Security Fortifications at Cisco Live Milan

NetFlow Analyzer, OpManager, DeviceExpert Demonstrate Upgrades at Cisco Show

NetFlow Analyzer supports Cisco Application Visibility and Control monitoring

OpManager rolls out iPad app to enable IT management while on the go
DeviceExpert fortifies network security through SIEM integration and session recording

MILAN and PLEASANTON, Calif. – January 27, 2014 – ManageEngine announced a suite of upgrades that are immediately available for key applications. NetFlow Analyzer, the real-time traffic and security analytics software, adds Cisco Application Visibility and Control (AVC) monitoring. OpManager, the company’s data center management software for large enterprises, gains an iPad app. DeviceExpert, the web-based, multi-vendor network change and configuration management solution, now supports security information and event management (SIEM) integration.

ManageEngine will be demonstrating the applications’ new features at Cisco Live, January 27-31, 2014, in Milan, Italy. At the show, ManageEngine will be in booth E43/E44.

“The new IT management capabilities we’re debuting at Cisco Live Milan improve IT teams’ abilities to provide superior, non-stop business services,” said Raj Sabhlok, president of ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corp. “The OpManager iPad app lets IT admins resolve network device issues at any time, from anywhere. NetFlow Analyzer’s AVC monitoring ensures the right network applications get the right share of network resources. And the SIEM integration in DeviceExpert fortifies overall network security.”
ManageEngine Highlights at Cisco Live Milan 2014

At Cisco Live Milan, ManageEngine experts will be on hand to discuss and demonstrate the latest enhancements to its IT management portfolio, including:

NetFlow Analyzer – With the addition of Cisco AVC monitoring, NetFlow Analyzer now supports all major monitoring technologies from Cisco including NBAR, CBQoS, IP SLA, WAAS and Medianet. AVC monitoring lets IT teams segment, identify, monitor and manage over 1,000 applications with the help of NBAR2. In turn, AVC monitoring helps improve QoS monitoring and application response times. NetFlow Analyzer is IVT-tested and certified as ‘Cisco Compatible’ in various key areas.

OpManager – The new iPad app for OpManager lets admins view the availability and performance data of Cisco devices. It lists the alarms that are raised and lets the admin acknowledge, add notes, clear and delete them. The app includes various troubleshooting options such as ping, trace root and IT workflow automation. Admins can also use the app to create custom dashboards and widgets.

DeviceExpert – With SIEM integration, DeviceExpert can now send Syslog messages to SIEM tools upon detecting a configuration change. In turn, the SIEM tools can analyze those events, correlate them with other network events, and provide insights on overall network activity. The latest release of DeviceExpert also gains session recording of Telnet and SSH connections launched to devices from the DeviceExpert GUI. Session recording caters to the audit and compliance requirements of organizations that mandate proactive monitoring of activities. The recorded sessions can also be archived and played back to support forensic audits. DeviceExpert also offers REST APIs to enable any third-party application or software to integrate with DeviceExpert directly and add, access and extract data.