Tool Finds Slowdown Source

Jaalam's AppareNet scrutinizes applications and IP-based networks.

When response times degrade for hosted applications or Internet access seems to slow to a crawl, network managers have had to endure the finger pointing that ensues with service providers. But new technology from a small startup could give them the proof they need to take to the service provider to get the problems resolved.

Network engineers at the not-for-profit Providence Health System found with the AppareNet network intelligence system the source of the performance problems they were having with a hosted human resources application. The tool, released for general availability late last month by Jaalam Technologies Inc., in Vancouver, British Columbia, gave them the documentation they needed to prove the fault was with the service provider, according to John Proffitt, lead network engineer at Providence Health System Alaska, in Anchorage.

"It was very slow. It could take minutes to go from screen to screen, and sometimes it just crashed. We went to them, and they claimed it was our Internet connection. They said it was because we were in Alaska and they were in the lower 48. They said you need to get a better ISP," said Proffitt.

Before bringing in AppareNet, Providence Health System Alaska used commonly available tools to measure page loading times, but it was not able to pinpoint the source of the slow response time or determine the cause of it. But network engineers at the health care provider knew intuitively that the problem was with the ASP (application service provider).

The AppareNet performance measurement and analysis tool can determine whether performance problems are with the application or with the network by identifying the unique signatures of certain problems that occur in IP-based networks. Jaalam technologists created algorithms that can identify those signatures based on test packets that are sent from a server and make a round trip from the specified end point. As the test packets traverse all the links from one hop to the next, they are deformed by events occurring on those links that are associated with problems.

The software, which runs on an application server, includes an analysis engine and a database of problem signatures that determines the cause and source of any problems it identifies along the way.

Providence has yet to determine its return on the software, which starts at $30,000 for a single server and $100,000 for an enterprise license.