Ensuring Business Continuity: Synthetic Monitoring Strategies in AWS

Discover how to use synthetic monitoring in AWS to guarantee business continuity. Learn about how it is used to proactively detect and fix problems before they affect users.

Businesses must ensure business continuity in order to continue operating and reduce losses amid unforeseen disruptions. As rightly mentioned by PWC in its article on Business Continuity, "67% of organizations applied a business continuity plan as part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic." To identify problems before they affect users, synthetic monitoring simulates user interactions with programs, which is a critical function of synthetic monitoring.

In this article, we will examine the value of synthetic monitoring in AWS systems, as well as its advantages and optimal setup procedures.

Source

What is Synthetic Monitoring?

Synthetic monitoring is a technique used for keeping an eye on programs by imitating user interactions and the user's journey. Information on the performance and uptime of crucial business operations as well as frequent application pathways is provided by this targeted monitoring. 

Applications may be synthetically monitored from both within and outside the firewall to guarantee their availability and overall performance.

Synthetic v/s Traditional Monitoring

Features

Synthetic Monitoring

Traditional Monitoring

Approach

Simulates user interactions

Monitors infrastructure components

Proactive vs. Reactive

Proactive (prevents issues)

Reactive (detects existing issues)

User Experience Focus

Yes

No

Global Monitoring Capability

Yes

Limited

Performance Metrics

Real user interaction metrics

System performance metrics

Setup Complexity

Moderate

Varies (can be complex)

Use Case

Application performance and user experience

Infrastructure health and resource usage

Benefits of Synthetic Monitoring for a Cloud-based system

Synthetic monitoring is essential to guarantee the best possible performance and dependability of cloud-based systems in AWS. The following are the main advantages of synthetic monitoring for an AWS cloud-based system:

1. Enhanced User Experience and Performance of Applications

Synthetic monitoring assists companies in maintaining optimum performance and user experience. This is achieved through proactive identification and resolution of performance issues before they affect actual users. This ensures that the user experience is smooth and effective, which is crucial for cloud-based systems where users might be situated anywhere in the world.

2. Decreased Outages and Downtime

In order to reduce downtime, synthetic monitoring offers comprehensive breakdowns of network timing data and reaction time by location. This facilitates quicker root cause investigation and timely remedial action. This is especially crucial for cloud-based systems as system outages can have serious negative effects on finances and reputation.

3. Quicker Identification and Fixing of Problems

IT teams can identify and fix problems more quickly using synthetic monitoring, which lowers the need for expensive emergency support and maintenance services. Additionally, by taking a proactive stance, reputational harm from subpar application performance or interruptions is avoided.

Keeping abreast of the most recent developments in monitoring tactics becomes crucial as technology advances and the desire for flawless user experiences rises.

This is especially true for synthetic monitoring, which keeps evolving and changing to fit the demands of contemporary applications.    

1. Growing Need for Service Level Agreement (SLA) Target Monitoring

One major factor propelling the synthetic monitoring market is the growing requirement for SLA target monitoring. The need for organizations to guarantee that their digital services adhere to particular performance and availability criteria is driving this development.

2. Growing Need for Application Performance Management

As online and mobile apps get more complex, there is an increasing demand for application performance management. The optimal performance and user satisfaction of these apps are guaranteed by synthetic monitoring methods.

3. Growing Need for DevOps

The synthetic monitoring industry has expanded as a result of the implementation of DevOps principles, which prioritize continuous monitoring throughout the software development lifecycle.

4. Development of the IT and Telecommunications Sector

Because of the growing demand for efficient monitoring of complex infrastructure and the significance of API management in upgrading IT services, the IT and Telecommunications sector is anticipated to exhibit notable development in the synthetic monitoring market.

Why Use Synthetic Monitoring in AWS?

CloudWatch Synthetics, Lambda, and S3 for storage are just a few of the services provided by AWS that provide synthetic monitoring. There are several advantages of integrating synthetic monitoring with these services, including:

  • Proactive Monitoring: By proactively identifying problems before they affect consumers, synthetic monitoring reduces losses and downtime
  • Scriptable Tests: Synthetic monitoring makes it possible to create scripts that are specifically designed to evaluate user interactions and application functioning
  • Customized Alerts: When performance deviates from average, timely warnings are made possible by customizing alerting thresholds
  • Visual Proof: Screenshots offer visual proof of test outcomes and problem identification

Companies Offering Synthetic Monitoring Solutions

Source: https://www.businessresearchinsights.com/market-reports/synthetic-monitoring-market-111751
  • Dynatrace LLC: Dynatrace is a top supplier of synthetic monitoring solutions, with tools that guarantee the best possible user experiences & enable total insight into applications
  • Smart Bear Software Inc.: Another well-known participant in the synthetic monitoring space is Smart Bear Software Inc., which provides products that mimic user behaviors in order to spot performance problems
  • HP Enterprise Company: The HP Enterprise Company is a reputable provider of synthetic monitoring solutions that aid companies in guaranteeing the availability & performance of their digital services
  • Dell Technologies Inc.: Dell Technologies is a major participant in the synthetic monitoring industry, providing solutions to meet the demands of different sectors & industries
  • BMC Software Inc.: BMC Software is a well-known supplier of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. Its primary goal is to guarantee the availability and performance of vital telecom and IT systems

Important Metrics and What They Show

Knowing and monitoring critical performance parameters is essential when it comes to synthetic monitoring for cloud-based systems. Organizations may detect and address problems early on with the use of these metrics, which offer insights into a number of areas related to application performance and user experience.

We examine many of the most significant synthetic monitoring metrics below, along with an explanation of the information they each provide on the functionality and state of the system:

  • Response Time: Calculates how long it takes for a web service or application to reply to a request from a user. Due to the potential for user annoyance and platform desertion, this statistic is essential for guaranteeing a flawless user experience
  • Resource Utilization: Monitors how much memory, CPU, and disk space are used by the system. In order to improve performance, this aids in locating possible bottlenecks and optimizing resource allocation
  • Error Rates: Tracks the frequency of different types of mistakes that take place when users engage. This measure is essential for spotting and fixing performance problems before they affect actual users
  • Transaction Performance: Evaluates the effectiveness and speed of particular user journeys or transactions. This promotes performance optimization and guarantees the smooth operation of crucial business processes
  • Availability: Monitors the availability and uptime of online services. To make sure that services are always available and operational, this statistic is crucial.
  • Geographic and Device-Specific Insights: Offers information on how customers utilize services across the world and on various devices. This aids in performance optimization for different user groups and gadgets.
  • Third-party Dependency Monitoring: Keeps track of how well third-party services—like payment gateways or content delivery networks (CDNs), which are essential parts of a lot of online applications—perform.

Reasons Your Organization Needs a Business Continuity Plan

1. Competitive Edge

When a crisis hits, a well-prepared business continuity plan allows you to bounce back quickly. This minimizes downtime, lost revenue, and damage to your reputation. 

Your company may differentiate itself as an expert and one that can be depended upon by quickly restoring access to your company's data and documents, reestablishing employee communication, and enabling staff to assist customers.

2. Backups are not enough

An enterprise backup often exceeds one petabyte in size. This strains the boundaries of traditional storage. Capacity and bandwidth can be strained even by a small to mid-sized firm backing up many terabytes of data. If your gear or data center isn't equipped to manage this amount of data, it becomes useless.

Organizations may operate vital business applications from backup instances on cloud-based virtual servers by implementing business continuity and disaster recovery solutions that make use of cloud technologies and virtual servers. With this strategy, you can minimize downtime and efficiently "flip a switch."

3. Insurance does not protect your data

Cyberattacks are becoming more proficient and effective globally. Insurance may not cover replacing lost data as a result of a breach in the data center, server, backup, or even loss of access.

Moreover, even if insurance does cover the cost of repairs, the entire cost of a disaster's damages will not be covered. It can pay for the repairs, but it cannot make up for the income loss and missed business opportunities brought on by downtime.

4. Disaster Recovery

Disasters can occur at any point. That is what makes them so devastating—their unexpectedness. Major occurrences like earthquakes, floods, and natural catastrophes are among the main causes of IT outages. Moreover, accidents, inept workers, user behavior that compromises security, and human error-related data erasure can also cause significant downtimes.

Recovery from such occurrences is made possible by business continuity, which lays out the steps that must be followed to guarantee that activities continue regardless of the type of disaster. A recovery plan asks the following questions and addresses them:

  • Can you move to a server or network housed in a running data center in the event of a power outage?
  • Do you have a standby server (or virtual server) available in case of server failure?
  • Can your staff operate remotely in the event that your office site becomes unusable?

When creating your business continuity strategy, you take into account every scenario that might arise. Offsite and redundant backup continues to be one of the most crucial components of IT resilience, mostly due to the possibility of power outages or office relocation.

Setting Up Synthetic Monitoring in AWS

The following are the essential steps for configuring AWS CloudWatch Synthetics for synthetic monitoring:

  • Open the Amazon Management Console: Enter your credentials to access the AWS Management Console.
  • Enable CloudWatch Synthetics: To utilize CloudWatch Synthetics, go to the "CloudWatch" service and choose "Synthetics" from the menu on the left.
Source https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/mt/visual-monitoring-of-applications-with-amazon-cloudwatch-synthetics/
  • Create a New Canary: To start configuring a new synthetic test, click the "Create Canary" button in the Synthetics dashboard.
  • Set up Canary Settings: Give your canary a name, select the runtime environment (Python, Node.js, etc.), and specify how frequently tests should be run.
  • Define Test Script: Compose a script that describes the procedures that must be taken in order to complete the synthetic test. Python, Java, and Node.js are among the programming languages supported by AWS CloudWatch Synthetics. Set up the settings for your test, including HTTP headers, endpoint URLs, and any other variables required for your infrastructure or application.

Source

  • Define Roles and Permissions for the Canary: Indicate the IAM roles and access levels the Canary needs in order to run its test script.
  • Examine and Deploy: After making sure the setup information is correct, deploy the Canary to begin tracking your digital services.
  • Follow Canary Execution: Keep tabs on Canary's progress via the Synthetics dashboard, which provides test outcomes, reaction times, success rates, and any faults found.
  • Iterate and Adjust: Based on the requirements of your application, examine test results often and make necessary adjustments to the scripts, settings, or monitoring intervals.

Challenges and Considerations for Synthetic Monitoring in AWS

Safety Risks

  • Authentication: Make sure that authentication is secure by using AWS Secrets Manager and granting only the minimal amount of IAM Role permissions.
  • Data encryption: To avoid unwanted access, encrypt test results and sensitive data.

Role-based access control should be used to limit access to artificial monitoring setups and data.

Expense Control

  • Optimize Test Schedules: To reduce pointless runs, modify test frequency in accordance with application dynamics.
  • Strategies for Data Retention: Set up policies for data retention so that only essential data is kept on file, saving money on storage.
  • Cost optimization: Keep an eye on and make adjustments to expenses related to synthetic monitoring, including S3 storage and Lambda calls.

Combination with Different Services

  • CloudWatch Integration: Make sure that CloudWatch and your system integrate seamlessly to provide real-time alerts and monitoring.
  • Lambda Integration: To automate processes and integrate with additional AWS services, use Lambda functions.
  • Integration with S3: Save test outcomes and screenshots in S3 for convenient access and long-term storage.

Further Considerations

  • Complexity of Monitoring: Synthetic monitoring, particularly for large-scale applications, may be complicated. Make sure configuration and testing are done thoroughly.
  • Test Script Maintenance: To account for modifications in application operations and provide precise monitoring, test scripts should be updated on a regular basis.

Conclusion

To maintain business continuity in AWS settings, synthetic monitoring is essential. Businesses may proactively identify problems and save downtime and losses by knowing the value of synthetic monitoring, its advantages, and best practices for implementing it. 

Ensuring the upkeep and efficiency of AWS-based apps and infrastructure is made possible by synthetic monitoring, which offers visible proof, scriptable tests, customized warnings, and proactive monitoring.

Synthetic monitoring may be made even more successful for enterprises by combining it with AWS services like Lambda, S3, and CloudWatch Synthetics.

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