February 24, 2003, 12:00 AM

As sites get more complex, finding and fixing problems gets tougher

The average time to locate and resolve site performance issues is 25.8 hours, barely changed from 25.6 three years ago, says a study from Newport Group Inc.


Without web site performance monitoring that captures the right transactin data, the average time for a web operator’s IT group to find and fix a performance problem is 25.8 hours, according to research from Newport Group Inc.

The findings, from 2002, haven’t changed greatly from the average resolution time of 25.65 reported by IT professionals on a previous study on the subject in 1999, notes Tim Smith, director for marketing at performance monitoring firm TeaLeaf Technology Inc. And the impact of performance issues on site operations actually may be greater than the research suggests, as the average resolution time reflects only problems that have been reported, he adds. That leaves a pool of unreported problems that may be even larger.

“If a user reports a problem on a site, he will typically get an e-mail back from the retailer asking 10 or 12 questions such as what browser type was used and what time of day the error occurred,” says Smith.

Users may not respond, deciding it’s not worth the time and effort, which highlights the problems sites have in pinpointing problems in need of repair. “Data for the different applications is in different silos. They need a clue as to which direction to look in,” he says.

As web performance monitoring service providers move beyond simply tracking site availability and download speed, they’re taking a variety of approaches to address issues arising from the increasing complexity of web sites. TeaLeaf’s approach is to monitor site performance in a way that mirrors the user’s experience and track all the transaction information within a unique user session, the company says.

That way, when a user experiences a problem on a site, the site operator needs only one piece of identifying information, such as a user name or e-mail address, to find the session, replay it, and see where among multiple applications used in the session the problem occurred. TeaLeaf says its technology can reduce error resolution time for retailers and other site operators by as much as 60%.

“Anyone could solve a web application problem if they throw enough time and resources at it,” says Smith. “But we’re not at a point in the industry where we have a lot of either. For that reason, our core objective is just to help site operators solve performance problems faster.”


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