Dell Foglight update shines on transactions

Dell Foglight 5.9 can present performance data in the context of individual system transactions

Dell Foglight 5.9 can reveal performance problems in individual transactions.

Dell Foglight 5.9 can reveal performance problems in individual transactions.

For the latest release of its Foglight application performance management (APM) software, Dell has provided a new view that summarizes how transactions perform across a system.

"We're pulling together all the aspects of a user's interaction with an application," said John Newsom, Dell's executive director for application performance monitoring. "It is a different center of gravity on how to triage problems."

Traditionally, APM tools have provided performance metrics on individual system components, such as server processors, operating systems and hypervisors. The newly released Foglight APM 5.9 brings together application, infrastructure and database performance statistics in a single view, organized along the lines of a transaction.

A transaction can be any task that a user commissions a computer to execute, such as a search for a product on an e-commerce site. Foglight will detail how quickly each component -- from the user's browser to the back-end database -- responds. Administrators can define transactions for Foglight, and the software can automatically discover transaction flows on its own as well.

The software collects and aggregates data to provide an overall summary of how each element of a system performs during a given duration of time and also allows administrators to dig into how each element behaved during a specific individual transaction. "We can tell you the actual path that an individual transaction took through the system," Newsom said.

Such transactional-centric data could be useful in diagnosing problems, Newsom said. If many users stop using a service before they complete their intended tasks, their frustration in many cases could be traced to a single sluggish component, such as a server with insufficient memory. The software "can show me if people on iPhones are having a problem, or if people only on Android phones are having a problem. Or is it everybody on Internet Explorer who is having a problem? People can zoom in and figure out what is the commonality of the problem they are trying to solve," Newsom said.

Foglight APM 5.9 also includes improved support for monitoring Web applications that run on AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) as well as for monitoring other actions on the user's browser, such as the time it takes to render a page, or look up a Web address with a DNS (domain name system) service.

Dell inherited the Foglight line of software when it acquired Quest Software last year. Foglight APM 5.9 is available either as an appliance, or as a software-only virtual appliance. An average implementation may cost around $70,000.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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