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Digital Experience Monitoring in the Age of Cloud and Mobility


Cloud and mobility are leading catalysts for digital transformation in today's modern enterprise. But a fast user experience is key to the success of such initiatives and, if your cloud strategy is slowing application access, any hope of leveraging cloud speed and agility is lost. In today's world, slow is the new broken.

Three trends have triggered a megashift in the technology landscape:

  1. Network architecture is moving away from hub-and-spoke network design to a local internet breakout-based architecture. User traffic is no longer backhauled over MPLS.
  2. Enterprise applications are not living in a physical data center but moving to cloud platforms such as SaaS and IaaS services. Applications like Office 365 are built to be accessed over the internet.
  3. Enterprises are embracing BYOD initiatives and allowing users to working from anywhere.

Traditional network-based monitoring is not sufficient in the mobile and cloud-first world

When all user traffic was going through an enterprise MPLS network and users were dialing into a full-tunnel VPN service, network-based monitoring tools that relied on technologies such as SNMP, NetFlow, network-based PCAPs, or DSCP markings were sufficient to get predictable network performance and troubleshoot any performance issues. Most of the monitoring tools in the market use static thresholds against static destinations to monitor performance. A modern SaaS app like Office 365 has thousands of endpoints that are dynamic in nature. Can you ask a SaaS provider such as Microsoft to publish SNMP MIBs to poll performance data on your SaaS tenant?

In today's world, the internet is the new transport for user traffic, and optimal performance requirements depend on where users are located and where your cloud services reside. For example, you cannot expect <20 msec TCP connect latency for a user based in Singapore connecting to your company's Office 365 tenant in the U.S. eastern region. That user would have an entirely different experience than a user in your New York City office connecting to the same tenant. Ideally, you need to benchmark every user's experience uniquely and not rely on static thresholds in a world where networks and applications change many times during a short period of time.

Often, performance issues may be related to the end-user's device. Have you experienced slow application response on your Windows PC when your battery drops below 5% or your Wi-Fi signal strength is low? Have you experienced an issue connecting to a Skype call on your MacBook but it works fine on your Android phone?

Gartner quote

Digital Experience Monitoring

As enterprises adopt cloud and mobility, end-user experience monitoring and network monitoring initiatives are evolving into a broader “Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM)” initiative. This shift is the result of changes in core technology areas associated with monitoring:

  1. Networking -> Moving to local breakouts with SD-WAN
  2. Security -> Moving to cloud security
  3. End-user computing -> Moving to BYOD and mobility
  4. Applications -> Moving to SaaS/IaaS

Enterprises are forced to deploy more and more tools that specialize in monitoring end-user devices, network path, or SaaS apps. In fact, every SaaS technology comes bundled with its own set of monitoring tools. Most of these tools are built to prove innocence when service quality deteriorates. As a result, organizations are left with many tools deployed from the same vendor or, in some cases, multiple vendors, causing “alert fatigue” and lacking single-pane-of-glass visibility when it comes to monitoring the digital experience of their employees and infrastructure.

Introducing Zscaler Digital Experience (ZDX)

After disrupting the cloud security market with Zscaler Internet Access (ZIA) and Zscaler Private Access (ZPA) services, Zscaler has recently announced Zscaler Digital Experience (ZDX), an initiative that will bring disruption to the Digital Experience Monitoring landscape.

The ZDX platform measures end-user experience for every single user within your organization from every device that they use—without the need to deploy multiple point products. It gives you a single pane of glass to identify performance issues, whether they are due to the end-user device, network path, or the applications that users are accessing. 

ZDX leverages the Zscaler global cloud platform to optimize monitoring behavior and uses a proven Zscaler App agent that runs on six million devices today to provides rich insights into the digital experience of your employees. ZDX can be set up in a few hours, as there is no need to deploy any additional hardware or software or deploy massive storage clusters to store a lot of raw and meaningless alerts.

Sound too good to be true? Enter your email address below to receive updates on ZDX. Or, watch the ZDX video introduction from Zenith Live 2019.


Dhawal Sharma is the Senior Director, Product Management at Zscaler

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