Category Archives: website monitoring services

8 Website Monitoring Services – Pricing Analysis

Yesterday I shared the 10 factors for choosing a Website monitoring service and purposefully left the pricing discussion short. It’s a larger discussion and analysis and we will do that justice here.

The marketplace for Website monitoring services has changed over the last few years. Synthetic (aka fake user) monitoring is still a very important capability for ensuring web site and application availability and functionality, but it has become one of an ensemble of tools required to understand and manage web performance and user experience well. New and improved technologies and a maturing market has led to a commoditization of these website monitoring services.

An honest assessment of your monitoring needs is still at the top of my list, and I think you should think carefully about need to have vs. nice to have. Once you know what you need you can begin assessing which service is right for your needs, skills, and budget.

Website monitoring services are typically sold in 3 ways.

  • single plans such as one 5-min Web transaction monitor
  • packages such as ten 5-min basic site monitors and one Web transaction monitor
  • usage pricing such as I need to monitor my home page every 5 mins (12 times an hour x 24 x 30.4 days/month)

My methodology for comparing pricing was to convert all of the services I researched to a common cost format. I did that by converting each vendors entry level offering into the cost per test (or test step for multi-step Web application transaction monitors). Here is a quick example. One 5-minute basic test would be (1 step x 12 intervals/hr x 24 hrs x 30.4 days) = 8775.2 tests per month. If that has a price of $10 a month then the cost per test would be $5.00 / 8775.2 or $0.00114 per test.

This table represents summarizes my research across 8 different providers of Website monitoring services.

Company source real-browser basic monitor Price Rating RUM APM
Nuestar online 0.02750 0.00688 $$$$ Extra cost Not avail.
Compuware / Gomez hearsay 0.01000 0.00200 $$$ Extra cost Extra cost
Keynote hearsay 0.01000 0.00100 $$$ Extra cost Not avail.
AlertBot online 0.00456 0.00017 $$ Not avail. Not avail.
Dotcom-monitor online 0.00487 0.00080 $$ Extra cost Not avail.
Site24x7 online 0.00046 0.00008 $ Not avail. Extra cost.
Pingdom online 0.000343 0.000034 $ (1 Free) Included Not avail.
Uptimerobot Online Not avail. Free Free Not avail. Not avail.

This list is sorted by cost with the highest cost providers at the top.  Keynote and Gomez pricing is accumulated from information shared with me over the years. Also, Keynote will typically discount 20% if you just ask.

Frankly, unless you have advanced feature needs, I can’t see why you wouldn’t start with the free services from Pingdom and Uptimerobot.

Hope this data helps you make informed business decisions for your website monitoring needs.

Ken

Column definitions:

Company – the name of the monitoring service
source – the source of the information gathered
real-browser – the cost per test or test step of monitoring using a real web browser sensor
basic monitor – the cost per test of monitoring using a basic protocol synthetic monitor
price rating – a positioning of the services relative price vs. others
RUM – whether the service can provide real-user monitoring in addition to synthetic
APM – whether the service offers deeper APM monitoring for Java, .Net, PHP

10 Factors for Choosing the Right Website Monitoring for You

I’ve always thought many Website monitoring services can make it difficult to understand exactly what you are getting and exactly what you are paying. Having spent eons building and delivering monitoring and caring for customers I thought I would take some time to try and clear things up.

When I say website monitoring services I’m specifically talking about online services (SaaS) that are subscribed to on a monthly or yearly basis to measure website performance and availability and alert when something is wrong. A check or test may run every 1-minute or 5-minutes or 15-minutes. The purpose of that test is to interact with your site, the way a user would, and verify your web application is working correctly. Since these are not “real” users this type of monitoring is typically referred to as synthetic monitoring.

There are 10 factors that should be considered when choosing the right Website monitoring for YOU:

  • your needs
  • reliability of reported errors
  • basic testing or real-browser testing
  • monitoring locations
  • effort required to create and maintain monitoring
  • status and diagnostics
  • ability to create and share required reporting to constituents
  • pricing
  • support you may need to be successful
  • other services – load testing, RUM, APM

Your needs are of course of primary importance. Do you have just a single website or multiple? Are you mostly interested in site availability or is performance and user experience important? Do you need to test a single Web page or do you need a Web transaction monitor to verify your application is providing a good experience to users? Will monitoring performance from a single web browser like IE or Firefox be sufficient or do you need cross-browser monitoring?

The reliability of errors reported by the service is probably 2nd most important. Nobody wants to be woken in the middle of the night to alarms saying the website is down when it’s just some spurious Ad banner that didn’t display and wouldn’t have affected the end-user experience anyway.

Basic testing is an easy way to understand website availability and basic HTTP performance, and verifying and measuring the performance of meaningful Web application interactions requires a real-browser sensor. Basic testing just sends a simple protocol message asking for the web page. Real-browser monitoring fetches, renders, and measures each aspect of the performance from the perspective of the web browser. More sophisticated users are sometimes interested in monitoring from their top 2 or 3 different browsers like IE and Chrome. There is nothing wrong with basic monitors but they have limitations when collecting web performance metrics. Real-browsers collect w3c timings and and help you really understand web performance and user experience. This definitely ties back to your needs.

The geographic locations available for monitoring may also factor into your selection. Both available and performance metrics can be different based on where they are sampled from. Knowing which geographies your most important site visitors come from will help you select the best geographic locations to choose for monitoring. You can probably get a pretty good idea of this from your Google Analytics account.

Does the vendor provide tools to make it easy and convenient to define and maintain the scripts (monitor definitions) that perform your desired Web interaction? Do they provide a handy transaction recorder to make it easy to produce and maintain your scripts? Does it actually do what it’s supposed to do? Some more sophisticated users prefer the monitoring services that support Selenium scripts so they can leverage the expertise they already have.

You’ll want a high quality status and diagnostic display. Is the data your viewing in the status screen real-time or 10 minutes delayed? Is it easy to see the monitors experiencing errors? Can you drill into the errors to understand the duration, type of error and root symptom? I say root symptom because the root cause is often impossible to see from the outside looking in.

Can the service create and share the required reporting views you are trying to create to end users? Can you create customized dashboards? Do you need to create reports that filter for only certain pieces of content to keep track of 3rd party SLAs? Or will you be the only one looking and so this might be less important.

Pricing is of course a big factor. I’m going to leave off any comments now. I always try to break things down into a model that I’ll try to get down on paper with some top vendors compared to share tomorrow.

Can the vendor provide support to help you be successful? This is party related to needs and your skills and the complexity of the monitoring you are trying to perform. It may also be related to how well the service captures diagnostics and leads you through them when errors occur.

Lastly, do you need other services such as load testing, real-user-monitoring, or perhaps even full-fledged application performance monitoring (APM)? If you’re looking to get a number of things from a single vendor that may also help you limit the candidates. But don’t be afraid to get this here and that there is you really understand your needs.

Ken

Uptimerobot – An accurate, easy to use, and free website monitoring service

I am on a quest to share the best free tools and services to help maximize availability, performance and user experience for your critical customer facing applications. Uptimerobot is a nice looking, easy-to-use, basic website monitoring service. Even better, like all of the tools I’ve been sharing over the last few weeks, it’s FREE!

And these guys don’t skimp.
You get 50 – that’s right I said 50 – individual monitors that can run as often as every 5-minutes.

They offer a reasonably handsome dashboard to view summary statistics for all of your website monitors. The web monitors support HTTP, HTTPS, ping, port checking and keyword monitoring. I think they need to merge the keyword monitoring into the HTTP monitoring but that’s such a minor quibble.

uptime_robot_dashboard

Here’s a quick example of the availability and performance data for the web monitor pointed at APMexaminer.com. Right now, I think you can only view this performance data for the last 24-hours.

uptime_robot_monitor_performance_uptime

I’ve only had one outage on my Website so far.  For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to turn on fastCGI on my Web server. WordPress or mySQL wasn’t happy and the site crashed the next night and was down for almost 3 hours. Uptimerobot sent accurate and reliable notifications, albeit sparse of diagnostic info, indicating when my Website was down. After @dreamhost support helped me resurrect it along with some advice for turning of the fastCGI option I promptly received notification the Website was back up and the duration of the downtime.

Uptimerobot doesn’t have a lot of advanced features like configuring web performance or transaction monitoring using real web browsers or collecting real-user monitoring statistics for every using site visitor, or even the ability to select which geographic locations perform monitoring.

In my considerable experience, a lot of people are just looking for good basic website monitoring services that provide reliable notification when their Website is unavailable, and allow you to see a little bit of basic HTTP performance data, and that is something that Uptimerobot does very decently.

Thanks for bringing something excellent to the community.

At this point in our journey together, please don’t tell me YOU don’t have basic Website monitoring in place.

Ken

Why Marketing and DevOps need to work together – MarDevOps

In today’s digital world, Marketing and DevOps need to work together too. When user experience (UX) is a 50/50 split of web performance and usability  designers and deliverers of the UX have to work together to succeed.

Have you ever managed a Google Adwords account for pay-per-click (PPC)?

I have and I was paying $25 a click for top keywords. I remember needing some prompting from the company founders to stay on top when click costs went above $20 and I was uncomfortable with the rising pay-per-click (PPC) spend. PPC budgets at many companies are incredibly high. No surprise right? Advertising is what is driving Google’s financial success. I easily spent more than 5% of total revenue during the 5 or 6 years I managed our PPC accounts.

Most organizations have some planned downtime for upgrades and regularly scheduled maintenance. I say most because some online services have become so essential that a few minutes of downtime is Global news, uh, like Gmail last Friday afternoon, and because “stuff happens.” Even web properties that never “plan” for downtime sometimes have outages.

Why don’t all web application monitoring tools and services allow you to pause your Adwords campaign when your website has scheduled maintenance or experiences extended downtime?

Looking at this from the perspective of two personas. First, an actual prospect who is exposed to an Ad  – call her Pros-ephone – will click on the Ad, see the website is not available, and unless she is totally Zen, will likely have a negative Brand impression. The second persona, Mark the Marketing Guy, who is already under pressure from sales to increase inbound lead-flow and to reduce PPC costs, must wince every time he thinks about paying $20 to create a negative impression.

We need Mar-Dev-Ops! I propose we take DevOps one step further and add Marketing to the mix.

This is probably why there is so much conversation now about the battle between CMO and CIO for power. If your organization is going to deliver meaningful digital experiences then someone is going to have to own the Customer Experience (CX).  If it’s not the CMO or CIO then your organization may mint a new executive role such as Chief Digital Officer (CDO) or Chief Customer Experience Office (CCXO).

Before going, please let me introduce the innovative website monitoring company who introduced this capability. If you are a Digital Marketing Manager or a PR Agency managing PPC campaigns you might need this. They are called Killswitch (www.killswit.ch), and their web monitoring service will monitor the uptime of 1 website every single minute for ~ $10 a month or $20 for 5 sites including the integration with Google’s Adwords.

A warm round of applause for Killswit.ch for being an innovator of website monitoring services.

Ken

Pingdom – Free is a Great Place to Start with Website Monitoring

Everybody has to start somewhere and if you don’t already have some specific sophisticated needs for upper tier website monitoring services Pingdom offers an excellent place to start for free.

Most people looking for website monitoring services are trying to answer the questions…

Is my site up?   and   How is it performing?

For a single website, Pingdom will help you answer both for FREE.

Some people say you get what you pay for, but I think this is a very adequate monitoring service that I use for my own website’s monitoring needs.

What do you get for free?

Each free account gets 1 “check” and the ability to monitor basic real user monitoring (RUM) statistics for a single web domain.

The “check” can be setup as a 1-minute basic site test for availability or a 10-minute multistep transaction.  They don’t have a fancy transaction recorder so you will have to do some hand scripting in their high level language if you want a transaction.  I’m using the 1-minute basic website monitor because I really like the granularity of the short testing interval.

Here’s a quick glimpse at the Dashboard for my site check.

pingdom-dashboard

You also get their new’ish basic real user monitoring (RUM) that captures the page load timing from the web browser of all of your site visitors and displays information about those visitors by performance, geography, pages visited and more.

It uses the APDEX method for calculating user experience and presenting the % of users hat are satisfied, tolerating or frustrated.

 pingdom-dashboardpingdom - rum dashboard

And they also have this nifty web page tester.
And a pretty keen mobile app that can view monitoring status and receive push notifications for errors for iPhone and Android.

Of course, if you have more sophisticated synthetic web performance monitoring needs there are a slew of services to evaluate, but please don’t say you can’t afford to ensure the availability and performance of your website.

Ken