Keynote upgrades Web site benchmarking

Keynote Systems Inc., known largely for its Web site benchmarking technologies, is readying upgraded services designed to help users better pinpoint the causes of poor Web site performance.

The company’s Web Site Perspective 6.0 and Transaction Perspective 4.0 services feature new software agents that now check for troubles based on user-defined frequencies and thresholds, which users customize to their Web sites to show whether service-level agreements are being met.

The agents can identify whether problems stem from network connectivity issues or from how applications are designed.

Until now, the company has largely focused on letting customers determine how well their Web sites are performing, by doing such things as comparing the average time it takes for a site visitor to download a particular page vs. a similar page on a competitor’s site.

“Keynote is [now] giving IT operations the ability to set their own thresholds and drill down into the specifics of what’s causing problems with the data Keynote has always collected for benchmarking purposes,” says Dennis Gaughan, an analyst with AMR. “It’s a service, but users can use it like a software tool to diagnose performance problems.”

Keynote deploys traffic-generating agents across the Internet that simulate the end-user experience with any given Web page.

The Web Perspective subscription service tests if Web site performance varies among geographic locations or from various service providers. Now it also can determine if the cause of the problem lies behind the Keynote user’s firewall.

Transaction Perspective works atop Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser and measures how long it takes to go through each step of the process of locating information on a Web site or making a purchase.

Jeb Bolding, an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates, says Keynote is in the beginning stages of offering customers an “end-to-end” view of Web site performance from the end user experience through to back-end systems, but is not quite there yet.

He says the services can determine how any transaction performs, but once inside the user’s firewall, Keynote can’t pinpoint if the problem lies within the database or an enterprise resource planning application, for example.

The company, which partners with vendors such as Computer Associates to extend the capabilities of its services, competes with a mix of service providers and, increasingly, software vendors. These include Mercury Interactive and BMC Software.

While the company is a leader in what it describes as a US$50 million benchmarking market, it is aggressively pursuing an application performance monitoring market that it pegs at US$2.7 billion.

Although the new services can help companies locate problems, Keynote’s technology does not actually fix problems for customers. But it’s the diagnosis of problems that customers need the most help with, CEO Umang Gupta says.

“With most IT problems, 90 per cent of the solution lies in diagnosis, 10 per cent in the fixing,” he says.

Keynote will begin offering Web Site Perspective 6.0 on March 18, while Transaction Perspective 4.0 will be available in June.

The services cost from: US$395 to US$1,895 monthly per URL; US$995 to US$3,995 monthly per five-step transaction; and US$495 to US$695 monthly per stream.

Keynote can be reached at