Most systems management software operates deep down in the guts of a network, monitoring the performance of software and systems. But Austin, Texas-based Tonic Software says its software can help network administrators monitor the performance of applications from a users’ perspective, so they can respond to problems more quickly.
It does this by enabling administrators to create simulated scripts of online transactions so that they can more effectively diagnose performance problems with the underlying infrastructure of an application.
For example, Tonic’s software can detect when a database sends back a blank page to a user, while other vendors’ systems management software will report that the database is responding correctly, claims Tonic’s chief technology officer Steve Marcie.
Founded in 1999 by five former executives from IBM’s Tivoli systems management division, Tonic’s eponymous flagship product is typically installed on a single server behind the organisation’s firewall. The product has several core components, including the Visual Transaction Manager (VTM), which creates imitation transaction scripts, and the Tonic diagnostic engine.
The diagnostic engine can pinpoint the cause of a performance problem using data gathered from the network. But unlike rival products, says Marcie, it can also invoke pre-defined actions to repair errors. This, however, is often just a short-term fix, such as minimising the number of connections a database can handle at one time, until a technician can rectify the real problem.
Despite such technological advantages, Tonic still faces stern competition from the world’s largest systems management software vendors, including Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, BMC Software and IBM’s Tivoli unit. Undaunted, Marcie claims that none of these can match Tonic’s application management capabilities and that it already has about 40 customers.
And Tonic can boast quite a war chest, having secured venture capital funding totalling $34 million from a number of heavyweight venture capital groups.