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Gauge: Internet Visibility For The Savvy Consumer


Director of Corporate Communications


Yesterday we announced Gauge, our new Chrome browser extension, which brings Internet Performance Management (IPM) to the browser. As you can imagine, we completely geek out about the internet (natch) and data. And while our commercial products give IT organizations unbelievable intelligence and control about how users connect to their internet sites and services, the individual users can be left in the dark. Gauge opens the black box of the internet for individual users, showing the site load times of specific websites as they browse, where those sites are hosted, and how their performance compares with others.

For example, I often think in terms of Alexa ranking, i.e. the websites with the most internet traffic. These companies are the standard-bearer for good performance. So I was interested in learning if there were any differences between them, or if they performed at the same level.

Here was my performance to the top 5 Alexa ranked websites on Friday, September 16 at 1 p.m. from my computer in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Alexa Rank #1 0.27 seconds
Alexa Rank #2 YouTube 2.97 seconds
Alexa Rank #3 Facebook 1.83 seconds
Alexa Rank #4 Baidu 1.73 seconds
Alexa Rank #5 Yahoo 3.32 seconds

All of these performances were good. I was surprised that Baidu, sort of a Chinese Google, would perform so well for me in New Hampshire. The site with the highest latency was Yahoo.

It was interesting to see that Yahoo’s content was served to me – in New Hampshire – from the west coast.

Yahoo's content served from West coastIt is important to remember, however, that the internet is never stagnant. It is always changing and performance can be incredibly variable. So I checked these sites again. Here was performance of the top five Alexa ranked sites on Monday, September 19. At 9:40 a.m.

Alexa Rank #1 0.37 seconds
Alexa Rank #2 YouTube 3.59 seconds
Alexa Rank #3 Facebook 9.37 seconds
Alexa Rank #4 Baidu 2.21 seconds
Alexa Rank #5 Yahoo 3.90 seconds

Yahoo’s performance remained about the same, however, I was alarmed to see the huge spike in latency with Facebook.

Using the Gauge tool I was able to break down where this latency occurred in different technologies during the page load.

Facebook request timing breakdownNow the question we often have is whether this issue was a Facebook issue or whether my ISP is not performing up to standards. Most people blame their ISP when, often times, it is not their fault. With Gauge we are able to review the average performance of a site across all users of the tool. I did this with Facebook.

Performance comparisonHere we can see that sometime before 9 a.m. there was a major spike in latency with Facebook, however, by the time I accessed the site that had been corrected and my performance was far above the average. It is interesting to note the previous chart that showed my Facebook content was served to me from the west coast.

As I mentioned previously, performance is ever change. In fact, I re-checked Facebook only a few minutes later and its performance had improved.

Facebook performanceBoth companies and users would greatly benefit from having visibility into the performance of the internet, especially as it becomes a major driver of economic activity and communication.

Like many people, while working on this blog post I got slightly distracted. Since it is the fall here in New Hampshire when an article pops up in my alerts about the football IQ of New England Patriots football star Rob Gronkowski, I am going to click on it. The article was published on Monday Morning Quarterback, a website affiliated with Sports Illustrated. I was surprised to find that this content was served from a location in Brazil.

MMQB from BrazilIt shouldn’t be surprising that with this distance, the performance for this site was poor.

MMQB performanceWe hear about how important it is to be a savvy consumer. The internet is the primary distribution mechanism for business today. If we want to operate with some level of competency in today’s technological climate we must understand it. Gauge is a fine tool to get you thinking and to start asking questions.

Adam Coughlin is the Director of Corporate Communications for Dyn, a cloud-based Internet Performance company that helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamCoughlin and @Dyn.