Tools target app speed

As Web-based applications proliferate and gain mission-critical status, a clutch of companies are vying to provide new types of tools that better monitor and manage application performance across a distributed infrastructure.

This week, companies such as ProactiveNet Inc., Mercury Interactive Corp. and startup Panacya Inc. will roll out products that take a holistic approach to pinpointing the source of bottlenecks and coding glitches that can slow down applications.

These newer players are moving away from traditionally reactive methods and are embracing capabilities such as automatic baselining, the “self-learning” of optimal application performance, and correlation and root-cause monitoring across the entire software infrastructure. In many cases, a problem lies not in the application itself but somewhere else in the enterprise food chain.

By eliminating the exhaustive sifting through individual application data that can lead to a diagnostic dead end, these new tools aim to cut down on IT resource requirements. In addition, the tools will work in concert with existing network management software.

According to industry analysts, these Web-based applications represent another step forward in the quest for “self-healing” systems such as those engendered by IBM Corp.’s Project eLiza hardware initiative.

“We aren’t there yet, but eventually auto-baselining will merge with self-learning and then be directly tied to self-healing,” said Corey Ferengul, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group Inc.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based ProactiveNet is unveiling a version of its management software aimed at application servers, including BEA WebLogic, IBM WebSphere, and Sun ONE (Open Net Environment). The core software uses intelligent thresholding and root-cause analysis to monitor the health of a transaction in the context of the entire application delivery path, said ProactiveNet CEO Ajay Singh.

In its company launch this week, Panacya will unveil its bAware application performance management suite and is expected to ink a deal to manage BEA’s myBEA program applications.

Panacya’s bAware software suite offers a semantic modeling studio, real-time monitoring, peer-to-peer analysis, and correlation tools, according to Franco Negri, CTO of the Annapolis Junction, Md.-based company.

Panacya relies on its Data Provider agents to extract application information and on its Data Provider Server, a SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol)-based Web service, for standards integration.

Meanwhile, Mercury Interactive this week will launch ProTune, a software version of its ActiveTune service, which enables customers to “tune” applications in a production environment to understand customers’ behaviour. ProTune measures the effect of transactions conducted among server clusters, databases and load balancers and makes recommendations for fixing bottlenecks, said David Gehringer, director of product marketing for tuning solutions at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Mercury.

Mercury and other Web-based app vendors will find themselves up against big players such as IBM, whose recently released IBM Tivoli Monitoring 5.1 includes an autonomic engine to “identify, notify, [and] cure” systems’ and apps’ ailments, said Chris O’Connor, director of performance and availability solutions at IBM Tivoli in Austin, Tex..