Web Testing Has Changed the Testing Landscape

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Web Testing Has Changed the Testing Landscape
C. Lisle - December 8, 2000

Event Summary

Within days of each other, and coinciding with the Internet 2000 conference, Mercury Interactive Corp. (NASDAQ: MERQ) and Segue Software (NASDAQ: SEGU) announced agreements with web infrastructure companies to provide performance measurement and testing tools for websites.

Mercury Interactive announced an expanded strategic alliance with Akamai Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM) to help online businesses improve performance of their web sites by making web testing and monitoring services more widely available. Mercury Interactive offers an integrated suite of tools, ActiveWatch and ActiveTest, to monitor and test web sites. ActiveWatch is powered by Topaz technology, while ActiveTest is LoadRunner technology. Akamai provides global, high performance services for the delivery of Internet content, streaming media and applications, serving over 2,800 customers worldwide.

As part of this agreement, Akamai will resell Mercury Interactive's web performance management products. These products will also be offered through the I.AM.AKAMAI portal. As part of the arrangement, Akamai will deploy a special network of dedicated servers reserved for Mercury Interactive's exclusive use. The deployment will be worldwide, including ten locations in Asia Pacific, twenty in Europe, and approximately sixty-five in the US. This network will enable Mercury Interactive to develop new root cause analysis and early detection capabilities to augment the performance monitoring products and services in its current suite of web performance management products.

According to Mercury Interactive, "It is important to remember that any component within the Web infrastructure-including routers, firewalls and load balancers-can potentially contribute to performance bottlenecks. Because these devices perform demanding operations, such as packet cracking, IP source address analysis, protocol analysis URL parsing, cookie parsing and others, they can easily cause bottlenecks that are difficult to detect. For this reason, it is critical to monitor these components when load testing a system."

George Conrades, chairman and CEO at Akamai adds, "Our content, application and streaming media customers are looking beyond performance metrics; they need solutions like Mercury Interactive's that can test, monitor, isolate and fix performance problems that affect the overall user experience. Taking our relationship with Mercury Interactive to the next level serves our top priority - making our customers successful."

Segue Software announced NaviSite as its first Hosted Services Partner. NaviSite, acting as an ASP, will enable Segue's customers to deliver actionable results to their own customers by using Segue's eConfidence suite of services. This suite includes eConfidenceScale (eCScale), Virtual Private Monitoring (VPM) and Continuous Verification Monitoring (CVM).

As a Segue Hosted Services Partner, NaviSite can offer these value-added services:

  • Load testing to assess customer site scalability

  • Monitoring to measure the response time of global networks

  • Verification to confirm the accuracy of information exchanged between databases and servers

In addition, Segue's eCScale's technology allows for testing with as many simulated concurrent users as a network can support.

"NaviSite is a perfect fit for the Hosted Services Partner program," said Stephen Butler, president and CEO of Segue. "We have the experience of more than 1,500 scalability engagements, and NaviSite possesses the infrastructure to support the Hosted Services Partner offering. Many of NaviSite's current customers already need scalability and performance testing. Now they can get the hosting and testing services they need from one organization."

Market Impact

These announcements reflect the real challenges of testing Internet applications. A web site is a complex system with interacting infrastructure, hardware and software. The complexity of these interactions means that test plans cannot be comprehensive and typically require a number of types of expertise. They must attempt to identify problems that will appear only under conditions of stress or when one or more components are in atypical states - situations that occur much more frequently on the Internet than for client-server or desktop applications.

Mercury Interactive and Segue have both turned to Internet service and support vendors to market their web performance management solutions. Before the explosion of e-business, performance management and testing tools focused primarily on testing functionality, and were marketed directly to the application software companies. Mercury Interactive has been providing load testing for just over ten years, focusing on CRM, ERP, and similar architectures prior to the web explosion. LoadRunner has been testing web applications for over four years.

Responding to the development of major web business projects, Mercury Interactive and others developed new testing tools, including ones that test critical aspects of web usage, application performance, scalability, and user experience.

Web site testing is an area of much confusion and conflicting claims as each company scrambles to assert its position as the one to supply the tools for testing your web site. Some of the earliest web testing tools were little more than existing tools modified to accommodate web sites and the Internet. They didn't test the factors that cause a web site to fail. Only recently have testing tools that involve the hosting servers and anticipated demands on the web site been announced.

User Recommendations

Users have to evaluate vendor information carefully to determine which ones are actually testing web site performance. Before the Internet, software testing tools focused on functionality. Developers needed to be sure the software was doing what it was supposed to do. Now that everything is moving onto web sites, reliability and performance are becoming key issues. Load testing is essential for sites that expect a lot of traffic.

Your web site is hostage to the ability of others to deliver it efficiently. As you investigate a tool or tool set to purchase, ask yourself this: if your site is not working, will the testing tools help you determine where in the complex infrastructure of your web site the fault lies?

The Mercury Interactive alliance with Akamai demonstrates an active involvement by both parties in providing the necessary web infrastructure testing tools. The offering of Segue's web testing tools to NaviSite customers does not display the same level of involvement, although it does imply that NaviSite considers these the testing tools of choice for their customers.

Keep in mind that the provider of performance management tools becomes yet another selection criteria to consider when selecting a company to deliver your applications over the Internet.

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