Top-notch dashboard usability, user experience (UX) metrics, mobile monitoring breakdowns, and business transaction monitoring. Best interactive interfaces and visual reports for return on investment (ROI) tracking.
Additional vertical offerings for application performance management (APM), standalone synthetic monitoring, and data center RUM not included. Alerting setup only available in rich client. Starting enterprise plan is a bit pricey.
- Bottom Line
Dynatrace UEM is a surprisingly intuitive and well designed website monitoring tool with excellent reporting and dashboards. While it could use some additional capabilities around APM, synthetic monitoring, and some other advanced features, it's still an excellent choice for medium to large-sized operators.
Back in 2014, Dynatrace LLC separated from parent company Compuware Corp. to focus on application performance management (APM) and user experience monitoring (UEM). The results has been its streamlined Dynatrace User Experience Management (Dynatrace UEM) product, which clearly reflects that specialized focus. Dynatrace UEM is a website monitoring service with an average selling price of $10,000 per one-year subscription. That average reflects annual pricing blended across SMBs and enterprises.
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But, for that sum, Dynatrace UEM delivers an agile and powerful website monitoring service that offers business-relevant metrics across all platforms as well as complete visibility across multiple digital channels through the windshield of what the company calls its "Customer Experience Cockpit."
Dynatrace UEM is priced on a consumption-based model measured in unique customer visits. Pricing averages out to $10,000 for a yearly subscription and increases with volume discounts based on monitoring additional websites, applications, or users. Dynatrace does provide a normalized pricing model though, allowing customers to start with an atomic price element as low as $.015 for a single unit of Synthetic or Real User Monitoring (RUM). Dynatrace does not publicize pricing data on its website but according to the company, Dynatrace customers range from the low four-digits for annualized contracts, paying $100 per month. Along with AppDynamics, it has the most expensive price of the bunch in this roundup. But, compared with some of the more itemized services such as Ghostery MCM or Pingdom (which charge more as you increase volume and scale up), the annual price of Dynatrace UEM isn't quite as lopsided when it appears next to the services that offer month-by-month pricing.
Dashboards, Dashboards, and More Dashboards
Logging into the main dashboard page, the focus on customizability and quantifiable UX metrics is apparent. The tile layout includes both a UX box and a user satisfaction box. The first box is a window into the interactive world map of website response times and failure rates. The second box breaks down UX into Satisfied, Tolerating, and Frustrated users. If those labels aren't clear enough, above the breakdowns of each user satisfaction category is a smiley face, a neutral face, and a frowny face.
The service always shows rather than tells when it comes to website performance and UX, using bold charts and visuals like the aforementioned amusing emojis to give even the most technically inept business user a clear picture. There's no question that seeing a big smiley face on your website monitoring dashboard is goofy and oversimplified but, with just a quick glance, there's also no misunderstanding how your website is performing.
In the second row of tiles on the main dashboard, underneath the UX boxes—including one for Omni Channel (Dynatrace's application monitoring tool for Web, mobile Web, and mobile app-specific traffic which I'll discuss in a bit)—are tiles for healthy and unhealthy Web hosts. There is also a tile that offers a list of website processes broken down by operating system (OS) including OS X, Windows, or Linux, and back-end technology including Java, Microsoft .NET, native, or Web server. In keeping with the platform's visual style, each OS and technology is represented by its logo for easy identification.
I found these tiles in particular to be a convenient way to quickly dig into back-end monitoring, without scrolling through a long, code-heavy list of processes as I had to do with Pingdom and, to a lesser extent, with AppDynamics—which presents an even deeper look into back-end processes but without the visual flair to keep a business user's eyes from glazing over the data.
The last tile on the main page shows a list of other dashboards. After clicking this dashboard, I found a list of prebuilt dashboards including Application Overview, CDN and Third-Party Performance, Errors & Failures Overview, Mobile Overview, and Operating System Overview. Each is filled with tiles depicting different website measures (basically a long list of metrics spanning a wide variety of reporting metrics). The Mobile Overview dashboard, for instance, gives visits and user actions response time data in big, bold numbers with a line graph underneath, along with action counts, mobile OS distribution between Android and iOS, a UX index, and mobile crashes and errors.
When creating my own dashboard, I found it quick and easy to create a dashboard that looked just as professional, adding, sizing, and arranging tiles for each measure. I was able to choose from more than a dozen different visual layouts including line and bar graphs, pie charts, and maps. The tile configurator provides a long list of measures from which to choose and shows a preview of how the tile will display. Choosing "Timeframe" from a drop-down menu on the upper right-hand side of the screen lets you build a useful and great-looking custom dashboard. AppDynamics and SmartBear AlertSite Pro offer similar dashboard customization functionality using tile formats, but neither one gives you quite as refined a finished view as Dynatrace UEM does (which, despite its visually rich Web dashboard views, loaded the fastest of all of the services).
View From the Dynatrace Customer Experience Cockpit
Dynatrace UEM, along with the company's separate application performance monitoring (APM) platform, is part of the company's newly launched "Customer Experience Cockpit" that is geared toward providing real-time UX metrics in one place. Dynatrace's full suite of products includes not only its APM offering but full access to Dynatrace Synthetic Monitoring, its online, retail-focused performance testing service, and Dynatrace Data Center Real User Monitoring (RUM), its data center-based network and application monitoring offering. Dynatrace delivers a joint offering of Synthetic and Real-User Monitoring offered on its normalized pricing model. Customers have they have the ability to start modular using elements of both RUM and synthetic and subsequently adjust their plan and adopt one or the other based on business requirements. In Dynatrace UEM, this idea of a "cockpit" colors the way a website's UX is measured and presented.
Clicking the main dashboard's user satisfaction tile, for example, brings up interactive pie charts breaking down Apdex UX, client type, region, application version, bandwidth, and OS. Click any piece of the pie in any of the circles and the other charts immediately recalibrate based only on that metric, like showing only iOS traffic or only synthetic clients (the bots managed by Dynatrace's Synthetic Monitoring tool, formerly known as Gomez).
Dynatrace's UX measure is based on the Application Performance Index (Apdex), an open Web standard that uses composite performance measures of website load time, latency, and other metrics to approximate UX. SmartBear AlertSite Pro and Pingdom also use Apdex, while AppDynamics vocally opposes the open UX standard (and instead uses custom metrics to gauge UX).
The other core feature in treating the platform like a business cockpit is the Omni Channel. Combined with custom dashboard creation, the Omni Channel gives enterprises and SMBs the specific analytics data they want, and the most concrete link of all five products in connecting website performance and UX with business transactions and profit.
The Omni Channel offers a big list of demo scenarios from which business users can choose, each with its own custom dashboard. The Business Transactions dashboard, which combines both RUM and synthetic monitoring, can correlate the number of user actions on an e-commerce site or a travel site with Apdex levels to track user flows and conversion rates directly to their impact on online revenue. Another demo scenario, the Business Overview dashboard, logs website response time and failures with the real-time revenue generated from each transaction next to a Competitive Benchmarks tile to compare the speed of your business's Web transactions with those of competitors across different browsers and platforms. This is similar to the list view that Ghostery MCM uses to benchmark website tags.
Another useful Omni Channel dashboard is the Customer Service demo scenario which, if set up for a business's customer service department, can be used to search Dynatrace UEM data for a specific user or IP address—and bring up information about their location, device, OS, and Apdex score to assist in resolving the issue. This business-focused reporting is also tied to website alerts for which Dynatrace UEM provides an enterprise alerting system. The alerting system includes real user alerts via email and text, as well as integration with PagerDuty and other third-party alerting solutions.
A Fresh Platform With Big Potential
Dynatrace UEM packed the best dashboard customization, the greatest usability for business users, and more tangible business analytics than all of the other website monitoring services I reviewed (and the platform is barely a few months old). The service's monitoring and analytics capabilities are set to pull even further ahead once Dynatrace completes its announced merger with Keynote Systems and fully integrates the latter company's end-to-end APM technology.
In the end, despite offering more tangible features geared toward translating website performance to businesses' bottom lines than Ghostery MCM, Pingdom, and SmartBear AlertSite Pro, Dynatrace UEM prices out most SMBs with its high annual subscription rate as compared to those other products. As opposed to the integrated service model of AppDynamics (which prices each product within a suite as individual units of a whole), Dynatrace UEM treats its other offerings for APM, Dynatrace Data Center RUM, and full-blown synthetic monitoring as separate products in need of individual enterprise subscriptions, although customers can purchase a joint offering of Synthetic and Real-User Monitoring offered on its normalized pricing model, and make modular adjustments to included capabilities over time. For these reasons, Dynatrace is not an Editors' Choice in this roundup. However, it is still a comprehensive, well-designed website monitoring service with powerful monitoring and metrics that is well worth exploring.
By Rob Marvin Associate Editor, Business
Rob Marvin is the Associate Editor of PCMag's Business section. He covers startups, business and venture capital, and writes features, news, and trend stories on all manner of emerging technologies. Beats include: blockchain, artificial intelligence and cognitive computing, augmented reality, enterprise IoT, legal cannabis tech, social media, the mobile app economy, digital commerce and payments, cloud, Big Data, low code development, containers and microservices, deep linking, M&A, SEO, virtual assistants and voice AI, chatbots, and enterprise software in general. Rob was previously an editor at SD… More »
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