In the first three parts of this series, the focus has been on the business side of the business: Customer Generation, Customer Retention, and Business Operations. The final component of any discussion of why companies measure their Web performance falls down to Technical Operations.
Why is Technical Operations last?
This part of the conversation is the last, mainly because it is the most mature. A technical audience will understand the basics of a distributed Web performance measurement system, or a Web analytics system, or a QA testing tool without too much explanation. The problems that these tools solve are well-defined and have been around for many years.
Quickly thinking about these types of problems makes it clear, however, that the kind of data needed in a technical operations environment is substantially different than that which is needed at the Business Operations level. Here, the devil is in the details; at Business Operations, the devil is in the patterns and trends.
What are you trying to measure?
The short answer is that a Technical Operations team is trying to measure everything. More data is better data at this level. The key is the ability to correlate multiple sources of system inputs (Web performance data, systems data, network data, traffic data, database queries, etc.) to detect the patterns of behavior which could indicate impending crises or complete system outage, or simply a slower than expected response time during peak business hours.
And while Technical Operations teams thrive on data, they do not thrive on explaining this data very well to others. So the metrics which are important in one organization may not be the key ones in another. Or they may be called by a completely different name. Which is why Technical Operations sigh and throw up their hands in despair when talking to management who are working from Business Operations data.
How do you measure it?
Measure early. Measure often.
This sums up the philosophy of most Technical Operations teams. They want to gather as much data as possible. So much data that the gathering of this data is often one step away from affecting the performance of their own systems. This is how the scientific mind works. So, be prepared to control this urge to measure and instrument everything with a need to ensure that the system is operationally sound.
Even in the well-developed area of Technical Operations, there is still opportunity to ensure that you are measuring the right things the right way. Do an audit of your measurements. Ask the question “why do we measure this this way?”.
Measure meaningful things in a meaningful way.