In today’s digital landscape, ensuring the optimal performance of web applications and services is crucial for businesses. To achieve this, monitoring tools play a vital role in providing valuable insights into the health and performance of these applications. New Relic is a popular application performance monitoring (APM) tool that offers a range of features, including synthetics monitoring. In this article, we will explore how to get synthetics monitoring to work in New Relic and maximize its benefits for your web applications.
What is New Relic?
New Relic is a cloud-based platform that helps businesses monitor and improve the performance of their software applications, websites, and IT infrastructure. It offers real-time insights into the health, availability, and performance of digital systems, allowing organizations to detect and resolve issues proactively, enhance performance, and provide a better user experience.
New Relic is compatible with various programming languages, frameworks, and platforms, including web, mobile, and cloud-based applications. It is widely used by DevOps teams, developers, and IT operations professionals to gain valuable insights, enhance application performance, and optimize the overall digital experience.
It’s worth noting that New Relic regularly updates its product offerings, so it’s advisable to visit their official website or refer to their documentation for the latest and comprehensive information about the specific features and capabilities offered by New Relic.
1. Understanding Synthetics Monitoring
Synthetics monitoring in New Relic enables you to simulate user interactions with your web applications and services. It allows you to define scripted browser checks or API tests to monitor key transactions, measure performance, and ensure the availability of critical functionalities. Synthetics provides valuable data and insights about the end-user experience, helping you proactively identify and resolve issues before they impact your users.
2. Setting Up Synthetics Monitoring in New Relic
To start using synthetics monitoring in New Relic, follow these steps:
Step 1: Creating a Synthetics Monitor
In the New Relic dashboard, navigate to the Synthetics section and click on “Create Monitor.” Choose the appropriate monitor type based on your requirements, such as Simple Browser or Scripted Browser. Provide a meaningful name for your monitor to easily identify it later.
Step 3: Defining Synthetic Tests
In this step, you define the specific tests that the synthetics monitor should perform. For scripted browser checks, write scripts to simulate user interactions and validate expected results. For API tests, specify the API endpoints to monitor and the expected responses. New Relic provides comprehensive documentation and examples to guide you through the process of creating effective tests.
Step 4: Adding Notification Channels
To receive alerts and notifications about monitor status, add the necessary notification channels. New Relic supports various notification channels, including email, webhooks, and popular collaboration tools like Slack. Configure these channels to ensure the relevant stakeholders are promptly informed about any issues or anomalies detected by synthetics monitoring.
3. Best Practices for Synthetics Monitoring
To make the most out of synthetics monitoring in New Relic, consider the following best practices:
Regularly Reviewing and Updating Tests
Web applications and services are dynamic, and their behavior may change over time. It’s essential to regularly review and update your synthetic tests to reflect any changes in functionality, user flows, or expected results. This ensures that your monitoring remains accurate and relevant.
Setting Realistic Alert Conditions
Configure alert conditions based on realistic thresholds that align with your application’s performance goals. Overly strict or lenient alert conditions may result in false positives or missed critical issues. Continuously analyze your application’s performance data and adjust alert conditions as necessary to ensure actionable and meaningful alerts.
Leveraging Scripted Browser Checks
Scripted browser checks provide a powerful way to simulate user interactions with your application. Use them to replicate critical user flows, such as logging in, adding items to a cart, or completing a transaction. By monitoring these flows, you can proactively identify issues and ensure a smooth user experience.
Utilizing API Tests
In addition to browser checks, leverage API tests to monitor the availability and performance of your API endpoints. API tests allow you to verify the correct functioning of crucial backend services and integrations. By including API tests in your synthetics monitoring strategy, you gain comprehensive insights into the health of your entire application stack.
Analyzing Synthetics Data and Insights
Regularly analyze the data and insights provided by synthetics monitoring. Look for trends, performance patterns, and anomalies that can help you identify underlying issues or potential optimizations. New Relic offers powerful analytics and reporting features to facilitate in-depth analysis of your synthetics data.
Integrating with Other New Relic Features
New Relic provides a wide range of features beyond synthetics monitoring. Explore integrations with APM, infrastructure monitoring, and error tracking to gain a holistic view of your application’s performance. By combining these features, you can uncover deeper insights and streamline troubleshooting efforts.
4. Troubleshooting Synthetics Monitoring Issues
While synthetics monitoring is a powerful tool, you may encounter certain issues along the way. Here are some common troubleshooting tips:
If your synthetics monitor consistently fails, review the monitor settings, test scripts, and alert conditions. Ensure that all dependencies, such as external services or network configurations, are correctly set up. If the issue persists, reach out to New Relic support for further assistance.
False positives occur when the synthetics monitor triggers alerts incorrectly. Analyze the monitor’s response time, error rate, and availability thresholds to eliminate false positives. Fine-tune these thresholds based on your application’s behavior and performance characteristics.
Network and Firewall Restrictions
If your application is behind firewalls or has specific network configurations, ensure that the synthetics monitor can access the necessary endpoints. Configure network settings, such as whitelisting IP addresses, to allow New Relic to perform synthetic tests successfully.
Test Script Errors
Review your test scripts for any syntax errors, logical issues, or outdated selectors. Test scripts rely on specific DOM elements and CSS selectors to interact with your application. If your application’s UI changes, update the test scripts accordingly to ensure accurate monitoring.
Monitor Performance Impact
Synthetics monitoring consumes resources and may impact your application’s performance, especially if you have a high frequency of tests or complex scripted browser checks. Monitor your application’s resource utilization and consider adjusting the monitoring frequency or optimizing your tests to minimize any performance impact.
Pros of Synthetic Monitoring
Synthetic monitoring offers several benefits for tracking and improving the performance of applications and websites. Let’s explore the advantages of synthetic monitoring:
- Performance Measurement: Synthetic monitoring allows you to measure key performance metrics like response times, page load times, transaction times, and resource utilization. By simulating user interactions, it establishes performance expectations and helps identify bottlenecks.
- Availability Monitoring: Synthetic monitoring regularly executes predefined scripts to check the availability of applications or websites. If any issues or downtime are detected, the synthetic monitor alerts the appropriate teams for investigation and resolution.
- Geographic Coverage: With synthetic monitoring, you can simulate user interactions from different geographic locations or networks. This helps identify regional performance variations, network latency issues, or problems with content delivery.
- Troubleshooting and Diagnostics: Synthetic monitoring provides detailed data and metrics about monitored transactions, aiding in troubleshooting and diagnosing performance issues. It helps identify specific areas of concern, such as slow database queries, server errors, or problematic third-party integrations.
- Proactive Monitoring: Synthetic monitoring allows proactive monitoring by executing tests and checks based on predefined schedules. It helps identify and address issues before they impact real users, ensuring a smooth user experience.
- Benchmarking and SLA Compliance: Synthetic monitoring can be used to benchmark the performance of different applications or websites. It helps track compliance with service level agreements (SLAs) by comparing actual performance against predefined thresholds or targets.
Synthetic monitoring works in conjunction with other monitoring approaches like real user monitoring (RUM) or infrastructure monitoring. It provides a controlled and repeatable method to evaluate performance and availability, enabling organizations to proactively identify issues, optimize performance, and deliver a reliable and satisfactory user experience.
Examples of synthetic monitoring tools available in the market include New Relic Synthetics, Pingdom, and UptimeRobot.
In conclusion, synthetics monitoring in New Relic empowers businesses to proactively monitor and optimize the performance of their web applications. By following the steps outlined in this article
and implementing best practices, you can leverage synthetics monitoring to detect and resolve issues before they impact your users. Stay vigilant, regularly review your tests, and utilize the insights provided by New Relic to ensure optimal application performance.
Q1: Can I use synthetics monitoring for non-web applications?
Yes, New Relic’s synthetics monitoring supports both web and non-web applications. You can create synthetic tests to monitor API endpoints, ensuring the availability and performance of backend services.
Q2: How frequently should I review and update my synthetics tests?
It’s recommended to review and update your synthetics tests periodically, especially when there are significant changes to your application’s functionality or user flows. Aim for regular intervals, such as quarterly or biannually, to ensure ongoing accuracy.
Q3: Can I integrate synthetics monitoring with my existing incident management tools?
Yes, New Relic supports integration with various incident management and collaboration tools, such as Slack, PagerDuty, and VictorOps. By connecting these tools to New Relic, you can streamline your incident response and ensure the right stakeholders are notified promptly.
Q4: Are there any limitations on the number of synthetics monitors I can create?
The number of synthetics monitors you can create depends on your New Relic subscription plan. Higher-tier plans typically offer more monitoring capabilities, including the ability to create a larger number of monitors.
Q5: Can I export synthetics monitoring data for further analysis?
Yes, New Relic allows you to export synthetics monitoring data in various formats, such as CSV or JSON. You can leverage this data for deeper analysis or combine it with other analytics platforms to gain additional insights into your application’s performance.