Mercury App Monitors, Enforces SLAs

Mercury Interactive adds a new application on top of its Topaz framework that provides monitoring and enforcement of service-level agreements.

Mercury Interactive will test the service-level management waters next week, hoping to dip into a more mature market for SLA monitoring.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., Web site monitoring and testing leader added a new application on top of its Topaz framework that provides monitoring and enforcement of SLAs (service-level agreements).

The Topaz for SLM (service-level monitoring) module integrates with Mercurys existing active performance testing and with its Prism real-time monitoring software to automate reporting on SLM metrics.

It allows service providers and enterprise IT operators to monitor and enforce SLAs and can aid in resolving disputes over service delivery.

The Topaz SLM module provides more meaningful reports on the actual end-user experience with a service, rather than an aggregate of system response metrics, according to early user Michael Ziock, senior director of hosted services at Web conferencing firm PlaceWare Inc. in Mountain View, Calif.

"We can reflect back on the specific user experience. We brought this product in to do exactly that--provide a meaningful representation of what the end user is experiencing," said Ziock, who said his firm plans to rewrite its SLAs to exploit the functions in the tool.

Although performance management vendors such as Compuware and InfoVista have long hyped their SLM capabilities, what they provide is not the same, said Andrew Kraft, executive vice president at New York consulting firm Basex Inc.

"Those other companies are more in the measurement than the management side. There is a subtle but important difference. The whole key to service-level management is that it provides clients with not only a view into whats going on with their system, but compares it against their SLA and shows heres where [the service] is not meeting expectations," he described.

Mercury Interactive started its service-level management initiative in early 1999 but struggled to get it right, and it was met with little interest in the market. But things have since changed, asserted Ido Sarig, vice president of marketing, in Sunnyvale.

"Our technology has improved, and we found out in a survey of our customer base that many of our customers were using Topaz for SLA purposes without this SLM module," he said. "The module adds on to existing functionality thats been in the tool new features that make it more usable in an SLM context."

The new module, which requires Topaz, is available now. A one-year subscription costs $25,000.