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Six "dos" to making the most of performance management tools

Meredith B. Derby, assistant news editor

Since Internet access puts the "e" in e-business, a down site puts an e-business out of business. Making the "always available" promise of the Internet a reality is Ryan Rager's job. Rager is enterprise management specialist for Eden Prairie, MN-based Gelco Information Network, Inc., which provides 24x7 Web-based expense management and reimbursement services. In his world, 23x6 doesn't cut it, so Rager has made it his business to find the best performance management tools on the market. In this story, he shares his first-hand knowledge about choosing and managing performance tools.

Do a thorough evaluation. Only choose a product that's built like the proverbial brick house. "If you're selecting a tool, understand how it's architected," Rager said. Ask yourself: Does it have the components you need? Is it compatible with your organizations' existing applications, middleware, and servers? Database compatibility is very important, because the database is a Web site's knowledge center, he said.

Further, do make sure that the product has staying power, offering scalability and an aggressive roadmap for upgrades.

Do have a dedicated server for the tool, Rager stressed. Having the CPU bogged down by another application could affect how the actual tool performs. This can then affect the information you receive about your Web site's performance.

Do "consistently keep response times accurate," Rager advised. If there

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are variances in the time it takes a Web site to perform, the value it provides to users will diminish.

Do implement a change management policy within your organization. It is critical to the success of a performance management effort, said Rager. If you don't have strong change management policies, then changing the configuration of a performance management tool could create a domino effect that reduces the response times of your Web site. "This may then create an internal conflict on what exactly happened to the response times," he said. "In that event, you would have to figure out if the problem was in the application or the monitoring tool."

Do recognize that a change management policy can also be a valuable production application, enabling the manager to track changes by issuing a reference or identification number when anything is changed, he said.

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