NetForager: Geographically-Distributed Network Performance Monitoring of Web Applications

Users connect to web applications for various content and services. In addition to the internet for the global user/ customer base, in today's enterprises, most business needs are also served by web applications. The application performance monitoring, testing, and maintenance is a considerable effort when serving customers and business needs. Ensuring a high level of user experience, isolation of network issues from application service performance, and providing a seamless experience independent of the proximity of the end user to the application server are some of the challenges faced in performance assurance efforts. In this respect, a reliable testing and monitoring mechanism for application performance is essential to business continuity. Furthermore, virtualization technologies along with extensive mobility adds tremendous challenge to collection of reliable and isolated data in conducting performance monitoring for any application. In this paper, we present the results of a comprehensive network traffic analysis conducted in a geographically distributed manner for over 15 representative web applications. We report that web applications utilize a wide range of bandwidth capacity due to location of the dynamic content and the time of day that the data may be retrieved. The variations create an inconsistent performance level in their network usage metrics. Our reported metrics such as the duration of complete web data transfer and bandwidth utilization can help enterprises, network engineers, and service providers in fine tuning their services. Our approach does not contain sensitive user information, allows for extensive configuration and customization of the framework, and finally, data capture processes have a built-in sharing mechanism for repeatable network experiments through a data collection description language.