Tag 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.


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

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.


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.


Website Monitoring Services are a Simple Way to Get Started with APM

Website monitoring services are a simple and direct way to begin measuring availability and performance for web applications. Website monitoring services, for the purpose of this post, are defined as a service that interacts with your website as a robotic (or synthetic) end-user for the purpose of measuring, diagnosing, notifying and reporting on the level of service the website is delivering to users.

Website monitoring services were first introduced about 20 years ago and are currently represented by companies such as Pingdom, Keynote Systems and AlertSite.  There’s quite a long list and a top 10 vendor directory will be published shortly.  These services are typically SaaS, meaning that you configure them remotely using your web browser. They are purchased on a subscription basis and have a monthly or yearly fee that depends on the type of monitoring, frequency of monitoring and number of sites or web transactions that need monitoring.

The advantages of synthetic website monitoring are:

  • collection of consistent and repeatable metrics, eliminating many outside variables
  • simple to setup providing meaningful performance metrics in just a few minutes
  • provides useful data for reporting compliance with service level agreements (SLAs)
  • captures rich information about all of the performance of all webpage content, including 3rd party content like ads and social media
  • can measure 3 perspectives of performance: network, browser, and visual performance

But there are some disadvantages too:

  • the collected data is not from real or actual users but rather samples taken periodically by a robot (synthetic user)
  • even sampling every 5 minutes means only 288 samples a day which might not be statistically relevant
  • performance metrics are only collected for the client config you are monitoring from and not all of todays myriad of browsers

There are two primary use cases for website monitoring services. The first is to ensure the web application or other connected service (like an API) are available. The second is to collect and trend data about performance for understand the end-to-end user experience. Tracking website or service availability and outside-in connectivity is probably the more important capability for synthetic web application monitoring today as real-user monitoring (RUM) is beginning to usurp the job of monitoring performance. We will cover that in greater depth in another post. I am not, however, implying that the performance data from website monitoring services are not valuable, but they only capture data for the pages that are being monitoring directly and only for the specific client configuration you have setup for monitoring. Website monitoring can be practical for monitoring key money-path transactions.  RUM is a better solution for monitoring the performance of all of the pages on your website.

Today, most website monitoring services offer real-browser monitoring. The interactions are executed and timed using a real web browser. Many of the vendors are using the Selenium technology for playback, but a couple have their own powerful record and playback technologies. Using a web browser to playback the scenario, transaction, script or whatever it is called and then collecting the performance metrics provides a much higher fidelity set of web performance data.  It also makes creating the scripted interactions simpler as it’s much more straightforward to push user events and then observe what’s happening in the browser than to try and mangle and hack the HTTP conversation.  Besides, if your monitoring is not actually rendering the web page, how can those performance metrics be meaningful? Further, entering data into the form fields, clicking buttons, and using the menus means the monitoring scenario is functionally testing the web application each time it runs.

Using what I have referred to as “not-the-browser” technologies for testing availability and basic HTTP performance can also be valuable.  This is a raw HTTP interaction and can reliably measure availability and service performance for APIs but cannot capture end-user experience metrics for the web page the way a user would experience it due to the lack of all the stuff that the browser does after it gets the text (HTML) of the web page.

Who in your organization really owns the user experience (UX)?

Application performance is serious business regardless of who your users are. Slow or unavailable web applications lose prospects, frustrate customers and decrease employee productivity, meaning they hurt the business. Delivering fast and feel good web experiences is critical to keeping users happy and driving successful business results.

I saw Fred Wilson (www.avc.com) of Union Square Ventures speak late last year at the Velocity Conference in New York City and it reminded me of something he said back in 2010. It was about the 10 Golden Principles of Success Web Applications. You can watch the video for yourself but here’s the opening.

“First and foremost, we believe that speed is more than a feature. Speed is the most important feature. If your application is slow, people won’t use it.”

What do you think?