For years, hosting providers like Rackspace, 1&1, and OpSource, have enjoyed successful businesses, building and maintaining numerous data centers that are used to host clients’ websites and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. Hosting providers let their clients offload much of the cost and effort of infrastructure investment, development, and support—and provide assurances that uptime commitments will be met.
To be successful, hosting providers need to consistently meet their service level agreements (SLAs). Traditionally, hosting providers have offered SLAs governing the availability of the underlying infrastructure: the hardware, the server, the operating system, and the like. Sophisticated hosting providers are now moving beyond this infrastructure focus to begin offering SLAs around the applications that run in the hosted environment. If you think about it from the client’s perspective, this is a huge step: Ultimately, who cares if the underlying infrastructure is running flawlessly, if end users are experiencing outages or sluggish performance?
To track, report on, and optimize website and application performance, hosting providers need not only infrastructure monitoring—including coverage of servers, databases, and networking components—but end user experience monitoring that tracks application performance globally from outside the hosting provider’s premises. This is accomplished through web page availability tests and synthetic transactions from multiple locations throughout the world. This external perspective replicates real-time user experiences (“outside the firewall”). Effective end user experience monitoring provides a definitive measure of what matters the most: how end users are experiencing the website or SaaS application.
End user experience monitoring offers hosting providers a number of benefits:
- Competitive differentiation. Providing application-level SLAs is virtually unheard of in the broader hosting provider market. By offering this level of service, hosting providers gain significant differentiation in the market.
- Improved service levels and customer retention. Armed with end user experience monitoring insights, hosting providers can more quickly spot and address issues, and get insights for preempting issues that lead to degraded performance. Consequently, hosting providers can better serve and retain their existing customer base.
- Increased margins. By offering higher value, differentiated services, hosting providers can offer new service offerings that offer improved margins.
- Expanded market penetration. By delivering new application-centric SLAs, hosting providers can target and win deals with a new class of clients.