How to Get Synthetics Monitoring to Work in New Relic

In today\’s fast-paced digital landscape, ensuring flawless performance and optimal user experience is crucial for businesses to thrive.

With the increasing complexity of modern software systems, it has become essential to monitor every aspect of your applications to proactively identify and address potential issues before they impact your users.

Enter synthetics monitoring—an indispensable tool in the arsenal of modern developers and DevOps teams. And when it comes to harnessing the full potential of synthetics monitoring, New Relic stands out as a robust and comprehensive solution. In this blog post, we will embark on a journey to explore the world of synthetics monitoring in New Relic and discover how it can revolutionize your application monitoring strategy.

Monitoring synthetic transactions, or simulated user interactions, provides valuable insights into the performance and availability of your applications. By mimicking real user behavior, synthetics monitoring allows you to proactively monitor critical workflows, validate end-to-end functionality, and identify performance bottlenecks that may impact your users\’ experience.

New Relic, a leading observability platform trusted by countless organizations, offers a powerful suite of features designed to unlock the full potential of synthetics monitoring. With New Relic Synthetics, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your application\’s behavior, identify potential issues, and ultimately deliver exceptional user experiences.

Throughout this blog post, we will delve into the key steps and best practices to get synthetics monitoring up and running in New Relic. Whether you\’re a developer looking to optimize your application\’s performance or a DevOps engineer aiming to ensure reliable service delivery, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools to make the most of synthetics monitoring in New Relic.

So, let\’s dive in and discover how to leverage the power of synthetics monitoring in New Relic to supercharge your application monitoring strategy and drive superior user satisfaction.

What is Synthetics Monitoring?

Synthetics monitoring, also known as synthetic monitoring or active monitoring, is a powerful technique used to monitor the performance, availability, and functionality of applications, websites, APIs, and other digital services. Unlike traditional monitoring methods that rely on real user interactions, synthetics monitoring involves simulating user behavior and transactions to proactively test and monitor critical workflows.

In synthetics monitoring, synthetic transactions are created to mimic user actions, such as visiting web pages, submitting forms, clicking buttons, or interacting with APIs. These transactions are performed at regular intervals from various geographical locations, enabling organizations to gain insights into the end-to-end performance of their applications and identify potential issues before they impact real users.

The primary goal of synthetics monitoring is to ensure that applications and services meet predefined performance and availability thresholds. It allows businesses to detect and address issues like slow response times, downtime, broken links, and other performance-related problems that could lead to a poor user experience.

Synthetics monitoring plays a crucial role in the overall monitoring strategy, complementing other monitoring techniques such as real user monitoring (RUM) and server monitoring. While RUM provides insights into the actual user experience, synthetics monitoring offers a proactive approach by simulating user interactions and validating critical workflows from predefined locations.

By leveraging synthetics monitoring, organizations can gain valuable data to optimize application performance, improve reliability, and enhance the overall user experience. It enables teams to identify and resolve issues in a timely manner, minimizing the impact on users and maintaining the reputation and trust of their digital services.

In the context of New Relic, a leading observability platform, synthetics monitoring is a core feature offered through New Relic Synthetics. It provides users with the ability to monitor applications and services proactively, helping them ensure optimal performance, identify bottlenecks, and deliver exceptional user experiences.

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How does Synthetics Monitoring work?

Synthetics monitoring works by simulating user interactions and transactions to monitor the performance and availability of applications, websites, APIs, and other digital services. Here\’s a high-level overview of how synthetics monitoring typically functions:

  • Define Synthetic Transactions: In synthetics monitoring, you start by defining the synthetic transactions or workflows that you want to monitor. These transactions could include actions like loading a webpage, submitting a form, clicking buttons, or making API calls. You specify the steps involved in each transaction and the expected outcomes.
  • Configure Monitoring Settings: Once you have defined the synthetic transactions, you configure monitoring settings such as the frequency at which the transactions should be executed, the geographical locations from which they should be performed, and the thresholds for performance metrics (e.g., response time, availability) that indicate potential issues.
  • Synthetic Agents: Synthetic agents or bots are deployed across different geographical locations or cloud providers. These agents are responsible for executing the synthetic transactions as defined in the monitoring configuration. They simulate user behavior by interacting with the applications or services and recording the response times, error rates, and other relevant data.
  • Transaction Execution: At regular intervals, the synthetic agents execute the defined transactions from their respective locations. They measure the response time, capture any errors or failures encountered, and collect performance data such as network latency, DNS resolution time, and server response times. These metrics provide insights into the health and performance of the monitored applications.
  • Alerting and Reporting: As the synthetic transactions are executed, the monitoring system compares the measured metrics against the predefined thresholds. If a transaction exceeds the specified thresholds or encounters errors, alerts are triggered to notify the relevant teams or stakeholders. Detailed reports and dashboards are generated to provide a holistic view of application performance over time.
  • Analysis and Troubleshooting: When alerts are triggered or performance issues are detected, teams can analyze the monitoring data to identify the root causes. They can investigate the specific steps of the synthetic transactions that experienced delays or failures, helping them pinpoint the areas that require attention. This analysis aids in troubleshooting and taking proactive measures to resolve issues and optimize performance.
  • Continuous Improvement: Synthetics monitoring enables organizations to continuously monitor their applications and services, gaining valuable insights for ongoing optimization and improvement. By analyzing the collected data, teams can identify patterns, trends, and potential bottlenecks, allowing them to make informed decisions to enhance the user experience and ensure reliable service delivery.

Why should you use Synthetics Monitoring?

Synthetics monitoring offers several compelling reasons for organizations to incorporate it into their overall monitoring strategy. Here are some key benefits of using synthetics monitoring:

  • Proactive Issue Detection: Synthetics monitoring allows you to proactively detect and address potential issues before they impact real users. By simulating user interactions and monitoring critical workflows, you can identify performance bottlenecks, slow response times, and other issues that may degrade the user experience. This proactive approach enables you to take corrective actions early, minimizing the impact on your users.
  • End-to-End Application Visibility: Synthetics monitoring provides end-to-end visibility into the performance and availability of your applications. By monitoring from multiple geographical locations, you can assess how your applications perform in different regions and ensure consistent user experiences globally. It allows you to gain insights into network latency, DNS resolution times, server response times, and other performance metrics that can affect user satisfaction.
  • Validation of Service Level Agreements (SLAs): Synthetics monitoring helps you validate and enforce your service level agreements (SLAs) with your customers or stakeholders. By continuously monitoring and measuring performance against predefined thresholds, you can ensure that your applications meet the agreed-upon service levels. It provides objective data to demonstrate compliance and maintain customer satisfaction.
  • Improved Incident Response and Troubleshooting: When incidents or performance issues occur, synthetics monitoring data can be invaluable for incident response and troubleshooting. By analyzing the monitoring data, you can pinpoint the specific steps or transactions that are experiencing delays or failures. This information helps in identifying the root causes and taking prompt corrective actions, minimizing downtime and improving mean time to resolution (MTTR).
  • Benchmarking and Performance Optimization: Synthetics monitoring enables you to establish performance benchmarks and track progress over time. By collecting historical data and comparing performance metrics, you can identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement. This data-driven approach empowers you to optimize application performance, enhance resource allocation, and prioritize performance enhancements based on real usage scenarios.
  • Enhanced User Experience: Delivering exceptional user experiences is paramount in today\’s digital landscape. Synthetics monitoring helps you ensure that your applications are performing optimally and meeting user expectations. By proactively monitoring critical workflows, you can identify and address issues that may impact user satisfaction, such as slow page load times, broken functionality, or downtime. This leads to improved customer retention, higher conversions, and a positive brand reputation.
  • Insights for Capacity Planning and Scalability: Synthetics monitoring provides valuable insights for capacity planning and scalability initiatives. By monitoring application performance under different loads and transaction volumes, you can identify performance bottlenecks and determine the optimal infrastructure requirements. This helps you plan for future growth, allocate resources efficiently, and ensure that your applications can scale seamlessly to meet increasing user demand.
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Getting Started with Synthetic Monitoring

Getting started with synthetics monitoring in New Relic involves a few key steps. Let\’s walk through each step to help you get started:

1. Create a New Relic Account:

If you don\’t already have a New Relic account, you\’ll need to create one. Visit the New Relic website and sign up for an account. Follow the prompts to provide the necessary information and create your account.

2. Enable Synthetics Monitoring:

Once you have a New Relic account, you need to enable synthetics monitoring. Log in to your New Relic account and navigate to the \”Synthetics\” section. Here, you\’ll find options to enable synthetics monitoring for your account.

3. Create a Synthetics Monitor:

After enabling synthetics monitoring, you can start creating your first synthetics monitor. A synthetics monitor represents a specific transaction or workflow that you want to monitor.

To create a synthetics monitor, follow these steps:

  • Click on the \”Synthetics\” section in your New Relic account.
  • Click the \”Create a Monitor\” button.
  • Choose the appropriate monitor type based on your requirements (e.g., Simple Browser, Scripted Browser, API Test).
  • Provide the necessary details such as the monitor name, URL or API endpoint to monitor, and other relevant configuration settings.

4. Configure Your Synthetics Monitor:

Once you have created a synthetics monitor, you\’ll need to configure its settings to define how it should behave. Configuration options may include:

  • Monitoring frequency: Specify how often the monitor should run (e.g., every 5 minutes, every hour).
  • Locations: Choose the geographical locations from which the monitor should run to simulate user interactions.
  • Alert conditions: Set thresholds and conditions that will trigger alerts when performance or availability issues are detected.
  • Additional settings: Depending on the monitor type, you may have additional configuration options related to authentication, headers, scripting, and more.

5. Run Your Synthetics Monitor:

Once you have configured your synthetics monitor, it\’s time to run it and start gathering monitoring data. The monitor will start executing the defined transactions or workflows according to the configured schedule. The monitor will measure response times, capture any errors or failures, and collect performance data.

You can view the results and monitoring data in the New Relic interface. Explore the monitoring dashboards, reports, and alerting capabilities to gain insights into your application\’s performance and take necessary actions based on the collected data.

Remember to regularly review and update your synthetics monitors as your application evolves or as you identify new critical workflows to monitor. This will ensure that your monitoring strategy remains aligned with your application\’s requirements.

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By following these steps, you\’ll be well on your way to harnessing the power of synthetics monitoring in New Relic to optimize your application\’s performance and deliver exceptional user experiences.

Troubleshooting Synthetics Monitoring

Synthetics monitoring, like any monitoring solution, can encounter certain problems or issues. Here are some common problems that you may encounter with synthetics monitoring and steps to troubleshoot them:

1. False Positives or False Negatives:

  • Verify the monitor configuration: Check if the monitor is properly configured with accurate URL/API endpoint, expected response codes, and other relevant settings.
  • Adjust alert conditions: Review the alert conditions and thresholds set for the monitor. Ensure they are appropriate for your application and reflect the desired behavior.
  • Validate monitor execution: Run the monitor manually and monitor the results to confirm if the issues are consistent. This will help determine if false positives or false negatives are occurring.

2. Connectivity or Network Issues:

  • Check network connectivity: Ensure that the synthetic agents have network connectivity to the monitored application. Firewall rules, network restrictions, or DNS issues may cause connectivity problems.
  • Validate DNS resolution: Verify that the DNS resolution is functioning correctly for the URLs or API endpoints being monitored. Incorrect DNS configuration can lead to connectivity issues.

3. Scripting Errors (for scripted monitors):

  • Review the script code: If you\’re using scripted monitors, review the script code for any syntax errors, logic issues, or incorrect element selectors.
  • Validate script execution: Execute the script locally or in a controlled environment to ensure it behaves as expected. This can help identify and fix any script-related problems.

4. Performance Bottlenecks:

  • Analyze response times: Examine the response times recorded by the synthetics monitor. Look for any unusual spikes or consistently slow response times that could indicate performance bottlenecks.
  • Investigate resource utilization: Check if there are any resource constraints such as CPU, memory, or network utilization that may be impacting application performance.
  • Review server logs: Consult the server logs of the monitored application to identify any errors or performance-related issues that may correlate with the synthetics monitoring results.

5. Authentication or Authorization Issues:

  • Validate authentication setup: If your application requires authentication, ensure that the synthetics monitor is configured with the correct authentication credentials or tokens.
  • Check authorization permissions: Verify that the user account used by the synthetics monitor has the necessary permissions to access the monitored resources.

6. Monitor Configuration Issues:

  • Double-check monitor settings: Review the monitor configuration and settings to ensure they accurately represent the workflows or transactions you intend to monitor.
  • Validate input data: If your monitor involves submitting forms or providing input data, ensure that the monitor is correctly set up to mimic the expected user behavior.

7. New Relic-specific Issues:

  • Check New Relic status: Visit the New Relic status page or community forums to check if there are any known issues or service disruptions that could affect synthetics monitoring.
  • Review New Relic documentation: Consult the New Relic documentation, and knowledge base, or contact New Relic support for guidance on troubleshooting specific New Relic-related issues.

In general, it\’s helpful to gather relevant data, review logs and error messages, and compare synthetics monitoring results with other monitoring sources to identify patterns or correlations that could help troubleshoot the problem. If the issue persists, reaching out to New Relic support or consulting the community forums can provide additional assistance.

Remember that troubleshooting synthetics monitoring involves a combination of understanding your application, monitoring configuration, and monitoring data. It may require iterative steps to pinpoint and resolve the underlying issues.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the benefits of using Synthetics Monitoring are numerous. It enables organizations to proactively detect and address issues before they impact users, gain end-to-end visibility into application performance, validate SLAs, improve incident response and troubleshooting, and optimize performance and user experience. To get more out of Synthetics Monitoring, regularly review and update monitors, leverage advanced features, integrate with alerting and incident management systems, analyze monitoring data, and foster collaboration across teams.

By harnessing the full potential of Synthetics Monitoring, organizations can ensure the reliability and performance of their applications, enhance user satisfaction, and drive business success.

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