Keynote Throws Down Gauntlet in Web Testing Contest

The new release of Keynote's Transaction Perspective service adds last-mile and high-frequency testing, challenging rivals Gomez and Mercury Interactive.

Keynote Systems on Nov. 7 will seek to bolster its dominance in the Web performance-measurement services space when it launches a major new release of its flagship Keynote Transaction Perspective service.

On the heels of its largest revenue gain since the company was founded, at $15.2 million for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2006, Keynote added significant new capabilities in Transaction Perspective 7.0 that deliver last-mile testing to cable, DSL and third-generation wireless locations; a lower-cost but higher-frequency testing option; and new troubleshooting capabilities intended to help subscribers quickly locate and solve performance problems with their Web sites.

/zimages/4/28571.gifTo read about other testing services from Keynote, click here.

Despite its dominance in the Web transaction performance-testing services space, Keynotes new release seems to be a reaction to rival Gomez, which has been more aggressive in wooing Keynote customers. At the same time, Keynote is working to lure more Mercury Interactive subscribers who may feel lost in the shuffle of the Hewlett-Packard acquisition.

The new Transaction Perspective High Frequency option, which provides multithreaded measurements every 15 minutes compared with Transaction Perspectives hourly single-threaded testing, is the "Buick" to Keynotes "Mercedes" Transaction Perspective and "Volkswagen" Application Perspective, according to Keynote CEO Umang Gupta, in San Mateo, Calif.

"For many of those that use Gomez and Mercury, they will find Transaction Performance High Frequency offers high fidelity at the price points they pay for Mercury [Interactive] or Gomez," Gupta said. "The competition only has a Volkswagen," he added.

According to Guptas subordinates, it is also the "Gomez-killer" intended to take away the Gomez price advantage while providing testing from a real browser, rather than an emulated browser that cant test client-side applications that use Java, ActiveX or AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML).

"This uses true Internet Explorer technology. We can go after companies that have gone to other competitors and win them back," said Vik Chaudhary, vice president of marketing at Keynote.

Although users at The Associated Press acknowledged that Gomez is a close rival, renewal with Keynote is a "no-brainer," and the latest last-mile additions solidify that view, according to Brian McArthur, director of technology at The Associated Press, in New York.

"We have 200 bureaus that have dial-up or ISDN. From there we want to know how our applications perform on those lighter connections. If we could test that before an application rolled out, that would be worth its weight in gold," he said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifKeynote Systems CEO talks about the companys growth plans and services. Read more here.

Keynote will initially roll out the new last-mile testing to 10 U.S. locations for dial-up, cable and DSL, then add 10 dial-up and DSL locations in Europe by the end of November. The company plans to have 85 last-mile locations running tests by mid-2007.

Even more attractive to users at AP is a new Web content diagnostics module that adds the ability to capture and view not only Web pages with errors but every page leading up to the error, AP said. "And you can look at HTTP headers for each component to see which servers interacted with the site at the time [of the error] to arrive at the root cause of the problem quickly," said Abel Gonzalez, Keynote product manager.

"We think it will help us speed the troubleshooting and take that user interaction out, so that we dont have to ask the customer what they are seeing," McArthur said. "That makes us look like we dont know whats going on. Having the tool in place to get what the customer is seeing from that location is a bigger selling point for them," he added.

In addition to the advanced screen snapshots in the Web Content Diagnostics module, Keynote also included the ability to break down pages into their associated objects and report on metrics for every object on a page. The module also provides object-level trending.

In order to solidify its leadership position in the Web and mobile performance testing space, Keynote the week of Oct. 30 launched a refreshed branding campaign, coupled with a special price promotion targeted at enticing Gomez and Mercury Managed Services customers to switch to Keynote.

If current users of those services switch to Keynotes Transaction Perspective, Transaction Perspective High Frequency or Application Perspective services between now and the end of 2006, Keynote will provide equivalent measurements for the unused portion of the customers existing contracts for free, as long as those customers commit to a minimum of 12 months of service beyond the free period.

Transaction Perspective 7.0 will be available Nov. 7, although the Transaction Perspective High Frequency service will not be available until the end of the year.

/zimages/4/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.