Compuware set to take adVantage?

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Compuware has just announced the latest release of its Vantage application service management product. For those not familiar with this type of software: it allows you to monitor the performance of your live applications so that you can maintain service levels and identify any problems that may occur.

This release has four major elements: scalability, extended support for J2EE environments, a focus on customers and end users, and new professional services offerings.

The first two of these elements require little discussion. In particular, more scalability is the sort of thing that you expect in any new release of any relevant product. The J2EE support, on the other hand, is significant but can be described quite briefly by saying that the product now supports monitoring and reporting of all aspects of a J2EE environment such as JSPs, servlets, EJBs, JDBC connections and so on. Thus the product can time a transaction that uses these elements and break that time down by each element so that you can identify any bottlenecks.

Perhaps the most important change is in the increased focus on end-users (either internal or external customers, and partners) and their perception of application performance. In previous releases the company placed more emphasis on corporate reporting, which is all very well and good but it is ultimately the end-user whose performance demands need to be satisfied.

Compuware has added a number of new things to Vantage to make this possible. First, it has added “agentless” capabilities so that the software can see all secure (HTTPS) and non-secure (HTTP) traffic. Secondly, Vantage Analyzer (which allows you to analyse application performance) now plugs into a dashboard as opposed to it being a stand-alone product. This has the added benefit that you can now scorecard on an on-going basis (that is, monitor performance over time) as well as simply using this for troubleshooting, which was how it was used in the past.

Another significant new feature is that there are now built-in change detection facilities so that the performance manager can be alerted whenever there is a change to the system configuration, for example. This is important because it may mean that different application servers, for example, may have different versions of the same software running, which can result in anomalies.

The fourth aspect of this release is the new professional services offerings. There are a range of these but the one I like most is the option for Compuware to come in and run Vantage for a limited period prior to going live with a new system: allowing a thorough test of the running environment prior to actual deployment.

Finally, this release comes at a propitious time for Compuware: just as its major rival, Mercury Interactive, has been hit by financial irregularities, with three of its senior executives being forced to resign. This leaves Compuware well placed to take advantage of both its new release and the weakness of its leading competitor.