Candle tool monitors thin-client apps

Candle Corp. this week will announce a management tool designed to monitor the performance of applications running on Microsoft Corp. Windows NT servers in thin-client computing environments.

The new release of End-to-End Watch (ETEWatch) gives information systems managers a tool to measure the response times in networks based on Citrix Systems Inc.'s MetaFrame server environment.

Citrix's MetaFrame server software mimics the mainframe/terminal model that predated client/server but uses Windows NT as the server. End users run applications on the processors in their desktop PCs, but the application resides on the server.

The PC is called a thin client because it requires no hard drive or external drives and is much cheaper to maintain than a fully equipped desktop, a factor that is one of the main attractions of the Citrix solution.

Although Windows NT 4.0 monitors server performance, IS managers of Citrix Meta-Frame environments have been left in the dark on application performance at the desktop and in the network, said Steven Foote, chief executive officer of enswers.com Inc., a new consulting group based in Boston.

MetaFrame runs on Windows NT 4.0 and runs regular Windows programs. ETEWatch-Citrix Edition runs on the MetaFrame server, monitoring all Citrix sessions for the response time of applications and browse time.

ETEWatch-Citrix Edition measures and logs each Citrix server session transaction time and monitors the performance of the desktop PC. The software also can be set up to monitor the performance of components of an application.

One of the issues for organizations that rely on network applications is slow response time, Foote said.

Foote said he knows of organizations where end users have to wait as long as 30 minutes from the time they submit a transaction to the time they get the record back. It becomes a serious issue when computer response times begin to affect productivity, Foote said.

ETEWatch will measure response times "like a stopwatch," said Karl Kotalik, director of Candle's response-time management business unit. The product measures response time for a transaction in a PeopleSoft Inc. application, for example, or in a government application written in Visual Basic or other languages.

Using ETEWatch-Citrix Edition, the IS manager will be able to pinpoint where problems exist instead of just hearing general complaints about response time being slow, Kotalik said.

ETEWatch-Citrix Edition also can generate reports that detail the maximum, minimum and average response time across all clients. Foote said that is a powerful feature because such data shows the IS manager what level of service is being provided.

Most government agencies have not jumped to the Citrix MetaFrame platform, but there are few deployments and pilot tests, according to a Citrix spokesman.

In the commercial world, Citrix continues to gain in popularity, according to Foote.

"Citrix has grown from being a cute little company about three years ago to being a very viable alternative to having a fat client on every desktop," he said. Total-cost-of-ownership concerns are high, as much as $3,000 for fat clients, according to Foote, "Citrix can more than cut that price in half."

The Exercise Support Division at the Marine Corps' training center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., has one of the federal implementations of the Citrix MetaFrame platform. The division uses it to track the maintenance of equipment.

Citrix also plays a role at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station in Washington, D.C., which manages the information systems for the Navy.

The U.S. Geological Survey is among the civilian agencies that have tested it.

Candle's products are well-known among federal agencies, especially the company's Omegamon mainframe per-formance monitoring and enterprise availability management solution for the DB2 and other mainframe operating systems.

Candle this week also will announce Citrix support for its Response Time Network subscription service, which gives subscribers access to reports at a secure World Wide Web site.

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