WebTrends Partners to Complement Load-Balancing Solutions

Load-balancing, the art of distributing multiple information requests to a number of servers in an interconnected or clustered environment, has been lauded lately as the solution of choice for combating Web server availability and reliability concerns. WebTrends Corp. (www.webtrends.com) and Cisco Systems Inc., an established networking giant, hope their partnership will provide organizations that deploy load-balancing solutions with a more effective way to manage their distributed environments.

WebTrends and Cisco unveiled a marketing and sales initiative that combines Cisco's LocalDirector load-balancing software with WebTrends' Web site reporting product ClusterTrends. The combination will produce a management and analysis solution for high-traffic Web sites. In addition, both companies announced plans to support other marketing and sales activities, such as the distribution of WebTrends’ trial CDs with Cisco’s load balancing products.

This partnership continues a pattern established by WebTrends earlier in the year. In May WebTrends announced separate initiatives with load-balancing specialists F5 Networks Inc. (www.f5.com) and Radware Ltd. (www.radware.com). Both deals are similar to the one which WebTrends inked with Cisco.

According to Rob Enderle, a senior analyst with Giga Information Group (www.gigaweb.com), WebTrends is smartly positioning itself to capitalize on a market space that will likely experience explosive growth in the coming years.

"Having a product with load-balancing technology becomes important given the fact that loads are unpredictable; so if you can't effectively shift loads from an over-used system to a little-used system, your Web site is going to experience availability problems," Enderle explains. "This technology is important today, but it is going to become even more important in the future."

WebTrends' ClusterTrends technology helps IS administrators accurately monitor traffic analysis reports across multiple servers. Available in either the WebTrends Enterprise Suite or the WebTrends Enterprise Reporting Server, ClusterTrends automatically combines and analyzes the distributed log files that populate geographically dispersed servers in a load-balancing configuration. ClusterTrends can prepare reports that cover true user sessions, top paths through a Web site, most requested pages, percentage of load per server, bandwidth served by server and geographic origin of visitors by server.

According to David Reynoldson, product manager for both the Enterprise Reporting Server and Enterprise Suite at WebTrends, ClusterTrends is a valuable tool for IS managers in distributed load-balancing environments.

"ClusterTrends allows IS managers to effectively report on and analyze Web-site traffic that is spread among one or multiple servers that are load-balanced," Reynoldson explains. "The technology is really unique in its space because, through the ClusterTrends software, we're combining those distributed log files isolated in a very specific way and enhancing them with powerful reporting capabilities."

Giga's Enderle says a tool like ClusterTrends can be of great help to customers: "You can see where the peaks and valleys are and you can make the adjustments and hopefully be a little bit more proactive in terms of dealing with problems. Right now you do have a load reporting mechanism -- and that's the level of aggravation of the users; this is perhaps a more career safe way of doing things."

Bob Healy, manager of business development at WebTrends, acknowledges that the cost of the additional servers and software required to implement a load-balancing solution is sometimes prohibitive.

"It's a challenge right now in a lot of companies because it's definitely needed because of sites growing and [organizations] deploying more and more of their services online; but it's a cost consideration, also, because companies have to start budgeting for these solutions," Healy observes.

By Healy's account, however, WebTrends' partnerships and joint marketing ventures with significant vendors in the load-balancing space will ultimately make the technology more accessible and affordable.