Mind Blowing EUM from Instana

It’s pretty rare that I get this excited over new software functionality but I’m absolutely stoked about the latest release from Instana. I’ve seen a lot of End User Monitoring (EUM) products in my career, first as a buyer/user, then while doing APM product analysis for my last company – damn, am I impressed today. Here’s a short list of the reasons why Instana’s new EUM has me so worked up:

  1. Every user request is traced starting from the browser and has at least 1 associated distributed service (backend) trace making it simple to identify the root cause of a problem in the browser or on the server
  2. The amount of detail for each browser trace is stunning (think Developer Tool level) providing you with the ability to deeply understand the impact of frontend code on performance and errors
  3. You can see every activity performed by any specific user, making troubleshooting even easier
  4. You get practically infinitely flexible analytics capabilities on the complete trace data repository unlocking a gold mine of insights and understanding for frontend developers and DevOps. In fact, Instana’s analytics are so impressive they’ve been renamed Unbounded AnalyticsTM.
  5. Oh yeah, one more thing – all this EUM functionality is FREE with your paid APM licenses!!!

via GIPHY

A Beautiful UI Where It’s Easy To Discover Problems

I’ll be completely honest, I prefer using software that has an attractive UI. If that means I’m shallow then so be it. Of course, good looks are only part of the story. Software needs to help me do my job better, which in this case is identify and solve problems. This is an area where the Instana product team knocked it out of the park, creating a wonderful combination of form and functionality that makes me feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

Instana has put together a selection of dashboards that are automatically populated when end user data is received. Each curated EUM dashboard contains a wealth of information about how your end users are experiencing your website. When you see an issue, simply click to drill down to the detail that helps you solve the problem.


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Figure 1: Curated dashboard showing a summary of the performance of the website

And of course there’s some bling for the operations center screens so that folks in the NOC can keep an eye on all the user requests from around the world.

Transcending to Analytics Nirvana

I’m not ashamed to admit that I drooled a little on my keyboard when I received early access to play around with Instana’s new EUM capabilities. The more I clicked around, the more goodness I discovered. When I clicked the “Analyze Page Views” button, I nearly lost my mind – in a good way.

You see, that seemingly innocent little click had delivered me to the epicenter of Instana’s new Unbounded Analytics. At my fingertips was the ability to analyze service Calls and Traces (which already existed before the new EUM release), but now I had the ability to analyze Page Views, Resources, HTTP Requests, and Javascript Errors.

Here are some of the insights I was able to quickly derive, without any training, that show off the power and flexibility of Instana’s Unbounded Analytics.

First, I was able to analyze the performance of web pages across different versions of the Chrome browser. This is an important activity to understand if frontend code needs to be refactored to provide better performance across all browsers and versions.


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Figure 2: Analysis of website performance across different version of Chrome browser

Next I decided to look for any large resources across my entire website that might be slowing down my page load times. Again this was a simple exercise of a few mouse clicks.

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Figure 3: Analysis of resource load times and associated resource sizes

Finally, I wanted to see if there were any Javascript errors and how many users were impacted. A couple of clicks later and I had all the information I needed.


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Figure 4: Analysis of website Javascript Errors and the number of impacted users

These were a few quick examples of countless analysis possibilities. Instana’s Unbounded Analytics is simple to use, powerful, and responds almost instantly. I felt pretty euphoric at this point.

Getting Down in the Weeds with Browser Traces

High level metrics about your website performance are great, but eventually you need to get to the why. Why does your website have performance problems or errors? To figure this out you usually need traces. Browser traces show exactly what happened in the end users browser for each request. Instana’s browser traces are chock full of the data required to figure out what went wrong (if anything) on the frontend.


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Figure 5: Browser trace of an end user request showing user data, meta data, errors. and response times

Things get really awesome when you connect browser traces and correlate them with their distributed service traces. When you do this, you have a complete end-to-end picture of what happened during any given user request. Instana traces and captures 100% of browser requests AND 100% of service requests to ensure that you always have a complete understanding of any user request. This is practically unheard of in the APM world and in the unusual case that a vendor can even accomplish this engineering feat you are required to pay some exorbitant license fee. Not so with Instana. You get complete coverage of frontend and distributed service traces for a single low license fee. Just outstanding!


EUM Browser Server Trace Correlation
Figure 6: Animation showing drill down from browser trace to distributed service trace

The Users are Always Right

Your users are the life-blood of your company. User expectations are at an all time high and there is little patience for slow loading or errors. Instana’s EUM helps you ensure that every customer interaction is well understood and that you are continually improving the overall experience. Try Instana free for 14 days in your environment today. Sign up for the free trial now and see why I’m so freaking excited about this new release.

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