Catchpoint Review: Integrated Synthetic Monitoring & Real User Monitoring Solution

Catchpoint is a web performance monitoring tool that is designed to help digital companies test and monitor their websites and applications, and analyze and optimize them to improve customer experience.

Founded in 2008, Catchpoint Systems helps online advertising, travel, media, and tech companies improve their user experience and optimize performance through continual testing and measurement.

Catchpoint's two main products are Synthetic and Glimpse, which provide a combination of simulated and real user monitoring capabilities. Founded by former Google/DoubleClick employees, the company is well known for its extensive network of testing capablities, which have expanded over the years to include an on-premise agent that adds another of monitoring digital services locally. with more than 500 global testing locations (more than just about any other company in the space), Catchpoint offers a high level of confidence to customers that they can ensure that their digital products remain available to users all around the world.

Pros

  • More than 500 testing nodes around the world, making it a good choice for businesses operating globally.
  • On-premise agent enables you to test applications internally behind a firewall.
  • Real-user monitoring combined with synthetic monitoring create a comprehensive view of performance.
  • Analyze historical trends to identify where you have improved/degraded over time.
  • Excellent, customizable visualizations of your performance metrics (line graphs, scatter plots, bar charts, heat maps, and more).

Cons

  • To start a free trial, you must work together with a sales rep to get set up, whereas some competitors let you get started with a trial right away.
  • Last Mile testing is currently only available for Internet Service Providers in the United States, United Kingdom, and France.

Price

  • 14-day free trial.
  • For a price quote, contact Catchpoint.

Table of Contents

Full Review

Catchpoint Systems was founded in 2008 by former employees of Google and digital advertising provider DoubleClick (a subsidiary of Google). Led by a management team that is deeply knowledgeable about web performance, the company has intentionally developed a tool to help digital businesses measure and improve their user experience in the easiest way possible.

With 400+ customers, including companies like Google, Pinterest, and Verizon, Catchpoint Systems has grown to become one of the most prominent players in the web performance monitoring industry. Its three main products encompass everything from simulated/synthetic performance, to real-user monitoring, to on-premise testing/troubleshooting. With its experienced leadership and wide-ranging suite of tools, Catchpoint is a worthy option to consider if you need a comprehensive solution for testing the availability and quality of your digital applications.

Key Features

Below, we discuss the key features of Catchpoint, and how they can benefit your business.

Synthetic monitoring

Catchpoint Synthetic is a top choice for companies that have a wide-ranging global customer base. While other companies in the space offer the ability to simulate requests from ~160 locations around the world, Catchpoint has set up approximately 500 global nodes for synthetic monitoring. Strictly from a numbers standpoint, Catchpoint beats out the competition when it comes to deploying a more comprehensive testing solution on a global scale.

In addition to the high number of testing nodes and locations, Catchpoint has also taken care to separate its nodes into three distinct categories for comprehensive monitoring (backbone, last-mile, and mobile). Of its 500 nodes, 63 are dedicated to "last-mile monitoring," and 36 are dedicated to wireless/mobile monitoring.

Backbone nodes are designed to test your applications and services for quality, by eliminating external factors that could cloud testing. The results of this type of testing are typically within your teams' ability to control, and offer valuable insight into what could be improved and optimized down the line.

Regular "backbone" synthetic testing nodes often conduct their tests using much faster Internet connections than a typical real-world user. Last-mile nodes, on the other hand, are designed to simulate the slow conditions that real users may face, depending on the quality of their Internet Service Provider. Adding last-mile nodes to your synthetic testing rotation helps provide a more comprehensive view of your users' experience, by factoring in real-world conditions that are outside of your control (e.g. quality of Internet service).

Wireless nodes round out Catchpoint's suite of testing nodes, which help ensure that your mobile sites are readily accessible via 3G and 4G LTE networks. As more and more users are turning to their phones as their primary means of accessing the Internet, testing your mobile website will become increasingly important to your bottom line.

Collecting synthetic and real-user monitoring data is only useful if you're able to form insights and make smarter decisions as a result of that work. To help you make sense of all of your data, Catchpoint includes customizable dashboards that can be tailored to your specific preferences. You can choose from various types of visualizations, including scatter plots, bar graphs, and line graphs.

Catchpoint synthetic monitoring dashboard

With a synthetic testing strategy in place, and dashboards to help you visualize the test results, you will be prepared to detect and address any issues -- hopefully, before they land in front of any of your real users. This makes Catchpoint a particularly suitable choice for companies that are interested in optimizing existing features, or testing new features before launching them, to make sure that they are ready to be released to the public.

Real-user performance monitoring

Catchpoint's real-user monitoring product, Glimpse, gives you more than just a glimpse of real users' experiences. It collects in-depth metrics about users' interactions with your products, and shows you any issues your users face on a daily basis. You can also set up the tool to collect any other custom metrics you want to measure.

Once you've determined what data you want to collect, Glimpse helps you analyze the data and conduct A/B tests to pin down what is and isn't working, so that you can keep iterating until you improve every aspect of your products. You can also compare different time periods, to determine, for example, if a code release or product update has made a positive or negative effect on the typical user experience.

Catchpoint real user monitoring dashboard

Catchpoint's dashboards are customizable, so you can visualize metrics in the format that's most useful to you. For example, you can filter response time across different regions, pages, or browsers, to see how performance differs across those variables.

Glimpse also collects data about real users' engagement levels with your site and applications, so you can bridge the disconnect between marketing effectiveness and technical performance. With Glimpse's UI, you can compare graphs of key performance indicators (e.g. bounce rate, conversion rate) to develop a more comprehensive view of what's working and what isn't. For example, you can use this information to determine if a slow page load time was correlated with a decrease in the number of conversions.

To save time, you can also create and save custom dashboards and reports of graphs and metrics that you want to be able to access on a frequent basis. These views are also accessible and customizable through Glimpse's pull API.

Alerting

Catchpoint includes built-in alerts that will email or notify you when a threshold is surpassed. The alert will include helpful contextual details about what triggered the alert,

Catchpoint also hooks up to other monitoring, alerting, and communication tools like Slack, VictorOps, and PagerDuty. If you integrate Catchpoint with the other tools you're already using, you can reduce the number of duplicated alerts and won't be forced to check multiple sources to gauge the performance of your digital products.

catchpoint alerts

Is Catchpoint right for you?

Catchpoint has developed a suite of products that help provide a complete picture of availability and user experience. With its impressive number of testing nodes (~500) located all around the world, Catchpoint surpasses many of its competitors when it comes to testing availability of services on a global scale. To round out all that data collection, Catchpoint also provides sleek dashboards and alerting capabilities. With all of these tools combined, Catchpoint has the potential to help digital businesses optimize their user experience in more powerful ways than ever before.

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