New Keynote Service Debugs Firewall Problems

The same technology used to monitor Web service performance can now be used to monitor, diagnose and debug multivendor firewall blockages.

A major stumbling block in the quest for complete end-to-end transaction performance for enterprise Web sites has been that external testing services dont work behind the firewall and that internal monitoring and analysis tools cant reveal whats happening out on the Internet.

But Keynote Systems Inc. plans to change all that when it launches a service next week that gives enterprises an integrated look at both sides of the firewall.

The Keynote Application Perspective service, which will debut along with a high-level Performance Scoreboard reporting portal and Performance Tune consulting service, marries its synthetic transactions that mimic the end-user experience with the diagnostics and analysis capabilities in Hewlett-Packard Co.s OpenView Transaction Analyzer.

The new service provides a comprehensive view of performance with end-to-end visibility and the ability to identify problems and speed their resolution. But it can also serve as a collaboration vehicle to resolve the typical finger pointing that goes on among applications administrators, database administrators and network operations personnel. Thats because the service can show how much time is taken at each component in a multitiered architecture, said Carol Carpenter, director of product management at Keynote, in San Mateo, Calif.

"Previously, [Keynotes Transaction Perspective service] just said you had a log-in problem," said beta tester James Wells, vice president of technical services at Pershing LLC, a Bank of New York Securities Group company, in Jersey City, N.J. "Now you can see where the problem is. It traces the path of the transaction and points to where it failed."

Transaction Analyzer recognizes synthetic Keynote transactions and follows them through their paths, timing them as they travel through the infrastructure. "We do the correlation between a transaction and page components and the timing at the application server, database [and] Web server, and we show a corresponding picture for a quick view of where the time is being spent. Then with OpenView Transaction Analyzer, we can drill down to [Enterprise JavaBeans or Microsoft Corp.s MTX server] to see where the application is misbehaving," Carpenter said.

That capability is unique, said Cameron Haight, an analyst with Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn. "To my knowledge, there isnt a vendor that can do this today—tie in back-end transaction work with the end-user perspective," Haight said.

But Keynotes lead may be short. The HP agreement to integrate Transaction Analyzer is exclusive for the next six months, after which HP could strike similar deals with Keynote competitors, according to John Peters, portfolio manager for management software at HP, in Roseville, Calif.

"You have an Internet environment thats dramatically improved, but the fundamental place where most problems occur is behind the firewall in the intranet," Peters said.

Pershings Wells agreed. "I would say 15 percent of the time [a problem] was [with] the Internet, and 85 percent [of the time, it] was our problem," he said. "Our first focus is our infrastructure. ... We dont have control over the Internet, but its important to know there are problems on the Internet affecting our customers."

Along with its Application Perspective service, which will be available in December for $4,500 a month, Keynote plans to launch an optional Performance Scoreboard. The scoreboard, a customizable portal for service-level management, is designed to provide an at-a-glance view of the health of all data centers.

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