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Cloudflare introduces web monitoring tool Observability

Organizations increasingly value observability—the ability to measure a system’s state using its data. Observability enabled business goals for 78% of IT decision-makers and practitioners in a New Relic survey.

Given the web’s fluidity, website observability and analytics can be tricky. But ignoring them could hurt business. SOASTA found that longer page load times increase bounce rates, averaging 13% for loads under three seconds and almost 60% after nine seconds.

Google Analytics, Chartbeat, and Parse.ly all address web observability. Cloudflare, a growing content delivery network and security provider, thinks it can do better.

Tomorrow, Cloudflare launches Observatory, which replaces Speed Tab and integrates real-time user monitoring (RUM) data to help customers understand their website’s performance as seen by visitors. Cloudflare’s Browser Insights feature inserts data-collecting JavaScript “beacons” into web pages to record RUM, which includes page load times, response times, and other user interactions.

Cloudflare’s Observatory captures customer experiences in a variety of environments and network conditions, giving site owners a “holistic” view of performance and recommendations to improve it.

“Website performance always has a major impact on user experience, but it’s especially amplified at a time when customers are tightening their spending due to inflation and the rising cost of living,” Cloudflare CTO John Graham-Cumming told in an email interview. “Observatory answers two crucial questions: how fast is my website and how can I make it faster? We want to show that users don’t need to be web performance experts to give their visitors an amazing user experience.”

Observatory uses Google Lighthouse, Google’s web performance tool, to simulate website performance in different regions. Graham-Cumming said customers can run more tests in more regions depending on their Cloudflare plan type—free, Pro, Business, or Enterprise. Pro customers can schedule five recurring tests for their most important page from five locations.

Graham-Cumming said, “We built Observatory after talking to our customers and understanding their pain points. “Observatory helps customers measure performance, make informed decisions, and communicate results to stakeholders.”

Observatory uses Lighthouse, RUM, and regional testing to identify issues and recommend Cloudflare product settings to fix them. Observatory may recommend image resizing on a page and a Cloudflare product.

The Cloudflare dashboard displays audit-related recommendations.

Reflect, which allows customers to “teach” the platform in real time, offers similar website optimization suggestions and testing. Graham-Cumming claims Observatory is simpler than most market solutions.

“Almost all competitive platforms are overly complicated and have a steep learning curve, either through outdated technologies or confusing, muddled user interfaces,” he said. Observatory helps teams speed up websites for global audiences. We know few companies have dedicated teams for compression, webpage optimization, etc. Observatory eliminates the learning curve and simplifies website performance analysis for customers.

Observatory works well with Cloudflare’s other web analytics and development tools, funneling users to its premium products and services. Given its recent earnings report, it may be the boost the company needs. Cloudflare missed its top line and lowered its full-year revenue guidance in Q1 2023, sending its stock down more than 20%.

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