New Tools Manage Web Sites

Network and Web site operators continue to struggle to figure out how to best design performance and availability management into Internet or e-commerce infrastructures.

At the NetWorld+Interop show in Atlanta last week, a string of vendors, including F5 Networks Inc., Network Associates Inc.s Sniffer Technologies, Mercury Interactive Corp. and Compuware Corp., launched new or enhanced offerings.

In traffic-shaping devices, F5 Networks wants to change the rules of engagement with its new Big-IP 5000 IP Application Switch. The switch is unique in its combination of Layer 7 application switching, high-port density and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) processing integrated at no extra charge, said officials at the Seattle company. The integrated SSL processing, which can handle 100 SSL transactions per second, eliminates the need for a separate SSL device. It can also offload hefty SSL processing from a Web server, allowing Web operators to support more transactions on a server, said F5 user Don St. Ores, senior network engineer at online legal database provider West Group, in Eagan, Minn.

The switch is available now, starting at $31,990.

Sniffer Technologies, of Santa Clara, Calif., showed its new Web performance monitoring appliance, the Sniffer Pulse Appliance. The appliance, deployed in front of the Web server, collects real-time data on more than 200 metrics to better pinpoint performance bottlenecks.

It is available now and starts at $20,000.

In contrast to the appliance-centric approach, Mercury Interactive uses probes strategically placed at locations around the Internet, along with probes placed in servers on internal networks.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company unveiled enhancements on two fronts. In its SiteScope real-time monitor, acquired with Freshwater Software Inc. in May, Mercury Interactive continued to integrate its existing monitoring functions into the tool. SiteScope 6.0 adds the ability to monitor servers from Apache Digital Corp., Ariba Inc., Silver Stream Software Inc. and others.

At the same time, Mercury Interactive added the capability to monitor encrypted traffic in its Prism traffic monitor. Using technology from nCipher Corporation Ltd. to decrypt secure traffic on the fly, Prism users can securely monitor the performance of encrypted traffic to determine whether users are experiencing performance problems. Topaz Prism with SSL support is sold separately, starting at $7,500 per month. Its available now.