E-retailers must focus on their specific goals and examine a vendor’s reputation and market expertise, not referrals.
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If the network is reaching overload or database administrators want excess capacity, programmers and network managers now have to create multiple programs and scripts to check messages and transactions flowing across multiple servers and databases. The process can take hours to complete and several more hours to analyze the results.
Hoover’s is installing performance-management software to create instant reports on network uptime and database capacity. Specifically the software can:
- Help resolve CPU or network space usage problems and support capacity planning for databases.
- Work out problems resulting from unavailable applications through SQL tuning applications embedded in the software.
- Adjust the Oracle database so messaging and transaction flow rates adjust to the specific performance characteristics of the network manager or data-base administrator.
“Before we put in this software, we had no tidy way to look up and check the problem,” says David Boyd, Hoover’s database administrator. “Now we have much faster access to performance information across the network and in the database.”
Performance-management software can be acquired as a turnkey package or a hosted solution from an application service provider. But with either version, the aim is monitoring the various transactions that travel across the site, including log-ons, information searches, account queries and file downloads.
In effect, says Billie Shea, director of research for the Newport Group, Web application-monitoring solutions collect data on transaction response times and validate the accuracy of application responses to customer transactions or information queries. “The software isolates where problems are occurring in terms of time of day, geographic location and specific transactions,” she says. “It’s a finger on the pulse of the network that allows the database administrator to see the same problem the end user is seeing.”
Because performance management software is so new, analysts aren’t forecasting annual market sales or site installations. But many sites such as Bank of America, U.S. Postal Service, Chubb Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co. are using BMC Software’s ManageIT Suite software. Keynote Systems and Precise Software also have signed up a number of major retailers and search engines that include such e-retailers as Amazon.com, Ask Jeeves, AutoTrader.com, eBay, Pets.com and Priceline.com.
The software companies aren’t saying which customers are buying packages to spot systems failures before they happen-or whether sites have been forced by their stockholders or venture-capital backers to make major infrastructure improvements. With the software relatively inexpensive to acquire, install or host, more CIOs and systems managers are buying applications to be proactive in monitoring their sites for signs of trouble.
“If a user is dissatisfied because a Web site is too slow or not performing properly, they will immediately leave that site because the competition is just a mouse click away,” says John McHugh, vice president of marketing, Precise Software. “It is imperative that these businesses implement strategies for maintaining exceptional application performance levels, no matter how many users are on the system.”
Mark Brohan was the founding editor of Internet Retailer.