Cloudflare introduces Digital Experience Monitoring

Today, organizations of all shapes and sizes lack visibility and insight into the digital experiences of their end-users. This often leaves IT and network administrators feeling vulnerable to issues beyond their control which hinder productivity across their organization. When issues inevitably arise, teams are left with a finger-pointing exercise. They’re unsure if the root cause lies within the first, middle or last mile and are forced to file a ticket for the respective owners of each. Ideally, each team sprints into investigation to find the needle in the haystack. However, once each side has exhausted all resources, they once again finger point upstream. To help solve this problem, Cloudflare is building a new product, Digital Experience Monitoring, which will enable administrators to pinpoint and resolve issues impacting end-user connectivity and performance.

The Vision
Over the last year, the company has received an overwhelming amount of feedback that users want to see the intelligence that Cloudflare possesses from its unique perspective, helping power the Internet embedded within our Zero Trust platform. Today, Cloudflare is excited to announce just that. Throughout the coming weeks, the company will be releasing a number of features for its Digital Experience Monitoring product which will provide unparalleled visibility into the performance and connectivity of an enterprises’ users, applications, and networks.

With data centers in more than 275 cities across the globe, Cloudflare handles an average of 39 million HTTP requests and 22 million DNS requests every second. And with more than one billion unique IP addresses connecting to its network, the company has one of the most representative views of Internet traffic on the planet. This unique point of view on the Internet will be able to provide organizations with deep insight into the digital experience of their users. Digital Experience Monitoring can be thought of as the air traffic control tower of a company’s Zero Trust deployment, providing data-driven insights needed to help each user arrive at their destination as quickly and smoothly as possible.

What is Digital Experience Monitoring?
When Cloudflare began to research Digital Experience Monitoring, it started with the user. Users want a single dashboard to monitor user, application, and network availability and performance. Ultimately, this dashboard needs to help users cohesively understand the minute-by-minute experiences of their end-users so that they can quickly and easily resolve issues impacting productivity. Simply put, users want hop by hop visibility into the network traffic paths of each and every user in their organization.

From conversations with users, Cloudflare understands that providing this level of insight has become even more critical and challenging in an increasingly work-from-anywhere world.

With this product, it wants to empower organizations to answer the hard questions. The questions in the kind of tickets everyone wishes to avoid when they appear in the queue like “Why can’t the CEO reach SharePoint while traveling abroad?”. Could it have been a poor Wi-Fi signal strength in the hotel? High CPU on the device? Or something else entirely?

Without the proper tools, it’s nearly impossible to answer these questions. Regardless, it’s all but certain that this investigation will be a time-consuming endeavor whether it has a happy ending or not. Traditionally, the investigation will go something like this. IT professionals will start their investigation by looking into the first-mile which may include profiling the health of the endpoint (i.e. CPU or RAM utilization), Wi-Fi signal strength, or local network congestion. With any luck at all, the issue is identified, and the pain stops here.

Unfortunately, teams rarely have the tools required to prove these theories out so, frustrated, they move on to everything in between the user and the application. Here they might be looking for an outage or a similar issue with a local Internet Service Provider (ISP). Again, even if there is reason to believe that this is the issue, it can be difficult to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.

Reluctantly, they move onto the last mile. Here they’ll be looking to validate that the application in question is available and if so, how quickly we can establish a meaningful connection (Time to First Byte, First Contentful Paint, packet loss) to this application. More often than not, the lead investigator is left with more questions than answers after attempting to account for the hop by hop degradation. Then, by the time the ticket can be closed, the CEO has boarded a flight back home and the issue is no longer relevant.

With Digital Experience Monitoring, Cloudflare has set out to build the tools needed to quickly find the needle in the haystack and resolve issues related to performance and connectivity. However, it also understands that availability and performance are just shorthand measures for gauging the complete experience of customers. Of course, there is much more to a good user experience than just insights and analytics. The company will continue to pay close attention to other key metrics around the volume of support tickets, contact rate, and time to resolution as other significant indicators of a healthy deployment. Internally, when shared with Cloudflare, this telemetry data will help enable its support teams to quickly validate and report issues to continuously improve the overall Zero Trust experience.