March Madness to Put Many Applications to the Test

Michael Vizard
Mar. 19 2013, 11:28AM EDT

With the beginning of the NCAA Basketball tournaments, otherwise known as March Madness, it’s not just the teams that are feeling the anxiety. There are a lot of owners of Web sites out there that have applications that are either specifically tied to the games themselves or are connected to advertising campaigns that have the potential to go viral at any moment.

Providers of mobile applications in particular are likely to find that their sites are about to put to the ultimate test. With more end users than ever relying on mobile devices that their primary method for accessing the Web, odds are good that a lot of content that in form or another is related to March Madness is about to be poured through some narrow network connections.

The good news is that according to vendors such as SOASTA that provide application testing services in the cloud providers of these applications have been spending a lot more time on Real User Measurement (RUM). According to SOASTA CEO Tom Lounibos says that rather than relying on synthetic tests that don’t reflect actual usage, RUM allows developers to monitor actual application usage.

Lounibos concedes that the data being collected isn’t likely to be gathered in enough time to prevent a catastrophic event. But it does provide insight into actual application usage that developers need to figure out what might have gone wrong. That’s particularly important with mobile applications that most end users will not give a second look if they encountered any problems the first time they invoked them.

We live in a world where application usage is unpredictable. Any news event can suddenly spark a wave of interest in a topic or application in ways that a developer never expected. That’s especially true in a world where applications are essentially borderless. A sudden loss of service for one Web application can suddenly have a cascading series of impacts on thousands of other applications that have invoked that service via an API.

While synthetic testing services help developers understand how their application might behave under severe stress, RUM provides the insights they need to understand how the application was actually used in practice.

Juniper Research estimates that the market for cloud-based mobile applications will reach $9.5 billion by 2014. That won’t happen, however, unless developers find some way to make sure that accessing those applications is actually an end user experience worth having.

Michael Vizard

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