While employees work from home in response to the COVID-19 shutdown, IT leaders must deal with a surge in traffic across their digital infrastructure. Virtual meetings have become the norm. Customer traffic on digital channels is way up. In these conditions, preexisting minor application design flaws, or lack of infrastructure capacity that can scale with ease, quickly become roadblocks.

While digitally advanced firms frequently use real-time performance monitoring tools to help automatically identify network problems and application defects, less mature firms may not have budgeted for these tools. To help, vendors are stepping up. Dynatrace is offering up its performance monitoring tools for free during the crisis (through an extended trial offer). And New Relic is offering free services to nonprofits engaged in COVID-19 relief efforts. Each vendor designs its tools to automatically navigate and trace the network paths that applications run across and identify pain points that cause response times to be outside of normal performance levels. The data these tools provide can help IT teams quickly identify issues that could be adversely effecting user experience.

Running performance monitoring is relatively straightforward. Essentially, all the IT team has to do is download the vendor-supplied agent and deploy it with minor configuration information. You can add additional layers of support by using synthetic transaction monitoring and real user monitoring (RUM) to give a complete end-to-end picture of the user experience. Data is captured while users interact with the digital services, giving a real-time perspective on how systems under load perform. This is especially important now that more employees are tasked with working from home — and more businesses are investing in new digital products that will only create more users and digital connections.

Forrester anticipates that other performance monitoring services will step up and support the free use of their tools while companies struggle to cope with the new digital loads on their infrastructure.