By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2004-05-24 Print this article Print

Load-testing tools can help Web site developers and managers get a good idea of how their sites will perform under virtually generated peak-traffic loads. But these tools arent as useful when a site goes live—then the IT staff needs to know how a site is performing for real, not with virtual users.

Click here to read eWEEK Labs review of the QuotiumPro Web load-testing tool.
Traditionally, Web sites have turned to Internet-based service applications to monitor the sites in real time from diverse geographic locations. While these services dont provide the same stress analysis as load testers, they do provide a good picture of overall site performance and make it much easier to detect certain problems when they happen and also find out where they could be coming from.

Gomez Inc.s GPN 5.0, which was released last month, is a service that is simple to use and that provides detailed analysis of Web sites and application transactions in sites. A new feature in GPN 5.0, called Last Mile, made it possible to see the type of performance that sets of users were getting from our Web sites.

The GPN 5.0 service is priced on a monthly basis. Standard Internet backbone testing starts at $295 per URL per month from any 25 locations worldwide on an hourly basis or $795 per transaction per month for up to a 10-page transaction from any 12 locations worldwide on an hourly basis. Last Mile capabilities are priced starting at $295 per month for a single URL with any 30 measurements from any connection speed or $795 per month for a 10-page transaction.

All administration and management of the service is done by logging in at www.gomez.com, and the main management features worked well in any browser we used. The interface is divided into five tabs: Start Page, Backbone, Last Mile, Alerts and Reports.

One quirk in the otherwise good interface is that all site and transaction setup is done from within the My Settings configuration area: We think it would make more sense to have this in the Backbone and Last Mile testing tabs. However, it was still simple to define the sites we wanted to test and the criteria we wished to use.

To test transactions, we had to download a Windows-based Script Recorder application, a tool for recording our steps through a Web application, then upload the script to the Gomez service. Although this tool was simple to use, we would have preferred a fully Web-based recorder that we could access from any system.

Probably the most interesting new feature in GPN 5.0 is the Last Mile test option. Using this feature, we could define sets of user groups that we wanted to leverage to test the performance of our site. We could choose users from various geographic locations, including Asia, Europe and the United States, and could choose connection types such as dial-up and high-speed and low-speed broadband. We found this feature to be effective and more useful than the standard estimated user performance rating that many site analysis tools use.

In the GPN interface, we could at any time enter parameters to receive a variety of charts and performance metrics on our sites, from performance over time to geographic performance. In addition, We could configure the service to generate and deliver customized reports on a specific schedule.

Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at jim_rapoza@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms Server & Networking Center at http://servers.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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