Mobile Monitoring – An Overview

The Background

The mobile environment does not consist of a single delivery system to a standardized device interface. Therefore, different strategies need to be deployed to monitor different types of content. Both emulated devices and real devices are employed for mobile monitoring, and a review of both content delivery and monitoring objectives will help determine when each should be used.

Real Device Monitoring

Monitoring mobile content performance on a real target device will clearly provide the most accurate information about end-user experience, but at a relatively high cost. Nevertheless, sometimes real device monitoring is the only choice. For example, the growing popularity of smartphones has led to a growing market for native applications residing on a device. Companies building applications for popular smartphone platforms for Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, Palm, and others need to track what happens when their applications are downloaded and installed on a specific smartphone and are interacting with various device components such as the operating system, touch screen, or camera.

To accurately test the functioning of native applications, monitoring performance on real mobile devices is the only solution.

There are, however, many classes of applications and services that can be monitored using device emulation, and those will be covered below.

Emulated Device

Monitoring mobile websites and services via emulated devices. Emulated device monitoring is well suited for websites and services that are accessible by a broad range of mobile devices. These devices range from simple-feature phones to sophisticated smartphones. Many websites and services require only a browser to render the page and do not depend on the operating system of the device (for example, SMS).

To accurately monitor such services on a broad range of possible combinations in the mobile ecosystem, the mobile monitoring solution needs to be able to emulate the vast array of devices available.

Emulation technologies must contain, along with a wide range of device profiles, an awareness of the multiple factors comprising the end-user experience. In addition, they need to have the diagnostic capability to quickly pinpoint the root causes of failures when something goes wrong. In the mobile environment it is especially necessary for content providers to know if their servers are at the heart of the problem-or if they should hold the operator accountable.

Emulated device monitoring can be performed by content owners in two separate modes:

  • Over-the-air monitoring for true end-user experience This requires a measurement solution that truly emulates the entire technology behind mobile downloads-including the actions of the operator network that sits between the Web server and the end user’s device.
  • Direct-over-the-Internet monitoring to measure only the availability of content without the impact of operator networks By using this method, you can quickly identify the root cause of failures experienced by end users.

Over-the-Air Monitoring

When choosing to emulate a mobile device to measure the true end-user mobile experience, it is important to make sure that the monitoring solution chosen is capable of accurately representing the target device-that is, the device for which the content is designed. If an emulation product is not specifically designed for mobile measurement, the content provider can be seriously misled during the test period. The result: unhappy end users and lost revenues. Over-the-air monitoring requires a solution that is capable of:

  • Accurate measurement of content routing
  • Accurate measurement of operator-specific content added during download
  • Accurate measurement of device-specific content from Web server
  • Accurate representation of device-specific multithreaded behavior on the mobile browser

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