When an organisation’s web applications grind to a halt, IT staff need to move fast. But obtaining a clear picture of what has gone wrong is far from straightforward.
Standard system management tools often require users to trawl through a sea of complex performance data that flows from devices, databases, networks and applications,
making it difficult to identify the exact source of the problem.
“We simplify that picture,” says Dave Wilby, vice president of product management at Dirig Software. The company’s technology enables IT managers to view the status of web application’s software components as a graphical map, with performance data fed into the map on a real-time basis.
Server-based agents monitor processor performance, memory usage, and swap and disk-space utilisation. Other agents (collectively known as Fenway Management Extensions) add application-level tracking by plugging into standard application servers such as WebSphere. As well as highlighting when systems administrators may need to take action, the tools can also be set to apply corrective action automatically when certain thresholds are exceeded. This activity is orchestrated by the Dirig Management Server and presented to the administrator through a single interface, the Dirig Global Console.
But the company added real differentiation in September with the release of Pathfinder. This ‘auto-discovers’ all of the potential paths within the infrastructure that a transaction may take to complete and maps out dependent resources so the exact problem causing transaction failures can be isolated.
Since first shipping products in early 1999, the company has built up a customer base of just 38, but that includes bluechip accounts in the US such as the production division of electronics company Canon, Kemper Insurance, and electricity supplier NorthEast Utilities.
But the company faces a tough competition from a host of established vendors and start-ups. Primary adversaries include Candle, Precise (recently acquired by Veritas Software), and Wily Technology, Software. For the time being, though, none of them can provide the level of real-time visibility into web application problems, claims Wilby.