Although a servicelevel agreement with an application service provider details system performance goals and support response times, how can an agency ensure that its service provider is delivering? The answer may be to invest in a monitoring service.
Although a service-level agreement with an application service provider
details system performance goals and support response times, how can an
agency ensure that its service provider is delivering? The answer may be
to invest in a monitoring service.
A few ASPs offer to monitor their own performance, but increasingly,
ASP customers are turning to third-party companies to emulate end users
and evaluate how applications are performing and to time transactions.
Many ASPs do not drill down to the application level when they are defining
performance goals, said Emilie Schmidt, assistant vice president of business
solutions at Candle Corp. As a result, a government agency may be guaranteed
that its server is up but have no idea how an application is responding
to users, she said. Candle offers a monitoring service that measures Web
page load times, response times and the time it takes for a transaction
to be resolved, she said.
"You can tell each time someone has been on your site [and] what their
experience has been like," she said. "You can pinpoint where there might
In addition to gathering metrics on response times and browse times,
Candle can also provide alerts to ASPs or their customers when certain thresholds
for response time are not being met.
Candle also provides reports with usage statistics that can be used
to spot customer trends, which can help an agency mold pages to reflect
user needs. For example, if one Web page that supports a transaction is
taking too long to load, and as a result users are abandoning the transaction,
the agency can redesign the Web page to shorten the transaction time.
"If citizens start to use that Web site and get frustrated...and think
this is worse than standing in line, that's certainly not the image that
government is trying to put forward," Schmidt said.
Envive Corp. also offers a monitoring service that can have "virtual
users" simulate transactions from multiple points throughout the world to
gauge how well an application is performing. The automatic simulations can
be performed every 10 minutes, and reports on a specific application with
details such as load times and purchase times can be supplied to customers
or ASPs, said Bill Leavy, Envive's vice president of marketing.
"You really want to monitor transactions because that's the real thing
that people do," he said. "It facilitates improved communication between
the end-user customer and the service provider."
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