Platform Aims To Assure Customers

Load-balancing tools are becoming more and more desirable for Web site administrators these days, especially when they are faced with high levels of Internet traffic.

With multiple servers supporting many sites, occasionally with different flavours of Unix or Windows NT, life in the site performance world can sometimes be difficult.

“The problem you’ve got is, how do you cross the gap?” said Phil Weaver, chief operating officer for Platform Computing Corp. in Markham, Ont.

This dilemma created a demand, which Platform Computing says it has answered with the release of its new suite of agent-based software products.

The SiteAssure suite is designed to monitor site performance and policies. Coupled with Cisco’s LocalDirector load balancer, the software automates management tasks such as Web server, disk space and database management.

“If you try to solve the problem with one of the servers, but you’ve got multiple, different operating platforms, what you really need to do is to couple directly into that environment,” Weaver explained. “We’re doing that with software coupled in with their load management environment.”

SiteAssure, with LocalDirector, is capable of making

decisions based on the availability of applications throughout the Web site. The suite’s ease of use is cited as one of its key benefits.

“It’s got a nice, clean user interface,” said Richard Ptak, vice-president, systems and applications management, Hurwitz Group. “It’s relatively easy to define and set policies, and to set the metrics that you want to evaluate and monitor.”

The suite is comprised of two products — SiteAssure Load Manager, which allows LocalDirector to distribute the traffic, and SiteAssure Incident Manager, which automates the management of Web environments at all times.

The suite of products provides real-time management and monitoring, and supports various platforms including HP/UX, SGI IRIX, IBM AIX, Sun Solaris, Microsoft Windows NT and Linux. It also monitors services such as mail, FTP, DNS and Netscape Directory Server.

“They’re bringing together the management of all the different pieces,” Ptak said. “The server, the Web, the disk free space, the database server, all of that. Bringing all of that capability in an integrated manner is another distinct advantage.”

A suite of products such as this is valuable to customers, “especially (for) something like an e-commerce system, which is doing a lot of different things,” said Peter Christy, vice-president of Internet Research Group in Los Altos, Calif.

“It’s doing Web response, it’s giving you pictures and pages back but it’s also, in the background, running business logic and doing database and probably talking to things like credit card validation,” Christy said.

Network and systems management are merged, because the traffic is balanced along an application path in multitier environments.

Christy said SiteAssure would be a valuable tool.

“It goes through and gives you tools by which you can take this fairly complicated collection of computers and resources that collectively constitute your Web site, and not only know that the whole thing is running but understand how all the pieces are doing,” he explained.

The list price for SiteAssure is approximately US$20,000 for a site with five servers. Platform can be reached at 1-888-514-3333 or