Agilent's Firehunter Now Monitors E-Commerce Site Performance

Agilent Technologies has announced that it has added to Firehunter/Pro, a product formerly owned by HP, a new e-commerce application that provides continuous real-time monitoring of e-commerce site performance.

Firehunter/Pro monitors basic Internet services, such as e-mail Web service, news and so on, while Firehunter/e-Commerce extends those capabilities to monitor Internet services for businesses relying on e-commerce. "We're expanding beyond ISPs to embrace all the dotcoms," says Larry Robinson, Senior Product Manager for Agilent's Firehunter Business.

Agilent touts the new Firehunter/E-Commerce as the first solution that allows ISPs hosting electronic business-to-consumer storefronts to continuously monitor performance of the entire infrastructure that supports e-commerce. Robinson says the new release offers three key features. It monitors from the top down—which means from the customer down. It monitors infrastructure performance by monitoring the components behind the firewall in the service delivery channel. And it displays the performance of e-commerce sites in terms most helpful to users.

In operating from the top down, Firehunter/e-Commerce monitors the front-end through transaction tests. It uses synthetic transactions, records all the steps in the transaction, and plays the steps back as a test against the system. Take, for example, a site selling printers. Firehunter/e-Commerce monitors the transactions in real-time, showing information such as the number of people accessing the site, the number searching for printers, the number of printers in shopping carts and the transactions involving financing and search. It uses color-coded icons to display the information, with red, for instance, indicating a problem. Every five minutes, the user can view specific transactions to detect where performance is slow. That allows e-commerce sites to catch performance problems before they occur and isolate them quickly, because, as Robinson says, "A delay of 8 to 10 seconds means a lost sale."

Competitors use synthetic testing mechanisms that are directly linked to a page. That means whenever the page changes—and that could be several times a day--the test changes. Firehunter/e-Commerce, on the other hand, allows users to go back and rerun synthetic tests to detect changes in pages. "Tests," he says, "are always in synch with the content."

Besides monitoring from the top down, the software links to the infrastructure. Although the user sees the front end, behind that are "a whole bunch of other systems," Robinson points out. These include the network, servers, databases accesses and so on that are part of the service delivery channel. "We provide a real-time portrayal of response times," Robinson says. "When things start to slow down, service providers can see where problems are occurring and avoid catastrophic occurrences."

Firehunter/e-Commerce also links the infrastructure to the user experience by providing information users need, such as authorized sales rates, dollar rates of new order and dollar rates of declines. Users can then compare transaction rates say, at 9:55 on Tuesday morning with rates at 9:55 the next Tuesday.

The new application is a 70 percent out-of-the-box solution. "It gets ISPs and enterprises up and running fast," Robinson says. But it can also be adapted to the different suites of software running on big e-commerce sites. Built to the BroadVision architecture, Firehunter/e-Commerce can be customized for offerings from Microsoft, IBM and others.

Firehunter/e-Commerce is available now. The core product, Firehunter/Pro, is priced at $35,000. The new e-commerce application starts at $20,000. It runs on UNIX (including Solaris and HP-UX) and Windows NT and will support Linux in its second release, scheduled for the second half of this year. Firehunter/Pro already operates on Linux.