How to Monitor Application Performance Over WiFi
by Sean Armstrong Sean Armstrong on

The value of application performance monitoring is increasing as apps move to the cloud and SaaS providers. There are many factors that can affect application performance, including local network congestion, ISP performance, inefficient routes, server-side infrastructure and a multitude of others. But there is an even more prevalent change occurring at the other end of the application delivery path: The last hop in the local network is over WiFi. With many workers trading the traditional tether for wireless connectivity, it is essential to include this last hop in modern monitoring deployments. When there’s a slowdown or other issue, the common reaction of users is to immediately blame the network, which is why at AppNeta we arm our customers with as much knowledge as we can in order to identify an issue.

Whether for meeting room collaboration or moving around the office, WiFi keeps getting more important to business users, but it’s often a black hole for IT teams. Monitoring the actual application delivery path as experienced by your users is a crucial step into tackling network issues proactively, and WiFi monitoring is a big part of delivery paths now.

AppNeta performance monitoring consists of three forms of measurement, performed concurrently: application usage, network and application experience. For WiFi performance monitoring, we actively test network and application experience over a WiFi interface, including periodic tear down and re-authentication of the wireless network. AppNeta provides an application focus with underlying network insight to help IT solve issues faster.

Note: This isn’t a WiFi site survey. There are multiple tools available to determine dead spots, channel interference and signal-to-noise ratios within a wireless deployment. Our monitoring focuses on the end-user experience of applications accessed over WiFi.

How AppNeta Determines the Impact of WiFi

Monitoring each hop on an application delivery path—especially the hop that uses the WiFI—is essential today. To see WiFi performance, you can isolate that last wireless hop by testing concurrently on wired and wireless networks, so that the only difference in the application delivery path is the local WiFi hop. This approach also works to detect the performance impact of VPN and Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB), where we actively test through the secure channel and the native channel to see the performance impact.

AppNeta in the Wild: New User Experience

One of our large financial services customers came to us with an interesting problem. New users at remote locations could not access applications, while existing users on the same WiFi network were able to access applications and services just fine. After a little digging, it became clear that the services supporting  getting a new user on the network—DHCP and DNS—were having issues and weren’t providing new users a fully functional network connection. Once our customer could see where the problems were, they were able to fix them quickly.

This is easy enough to solve as a one-off, but proactively detecting issues with these critical gating services before users are impacted isn’t easy. We designed our WiFi monitoring capabilities to give IT a picture of what end users are experiencing so they can get ahead of problems. We often quote the metric MTTI—Mean Time to Innocence. With AppNeta you can minimize this and avoid the fire drill.

AppNeta Performance Manager lets you configure how often you tear down or recycle the WiFi connection and reauthenticate. Bringing back up the wireless interface will retrieve a new lease, verifying DHCP and DNS are operating properly. At that point, you can test network performance and web application experience to key applications. Repeat as needed.

Filed Under: Networking Technology, Performance Monitoring

Tags: application performance , WIFI , WIFI monitoring