The Internet and the Web continue to evolve to deliver new customer experiences and increased application utility. The label “Web 2.0,” while imprecise, signifies the newest and best examples of this evolutionary process.Organizations are now adopting these Web 2.0 technologies and design methods to enable the creation of richer and more responsive interactions. But to be effective, the resulting applications must also be significantly more complex than traditional Web sites, complicating performance management and imposing new requirements on performance measurement tools.
The Web Application Landscape
The Internet and the Web have become the primary vehicle for business communications, evolving to subsume and replace older technologies. As software technologies exploit steady advances in the Internet hardware platform, the Web continues to evolve to deliver new user experiences and increased application utility. The most advanced example of the Web becoming a platform is the rich Internet application (RIA), reflects the gradual transition of Web applications from the simple thin-client Web browser to a richer distributed-function paradigm that behaves more like the desktop in a client/server model.
Measuring RIA Performance
This architecture complicates performance measurement, whose goal is to understand the customer’s experience. In an RIA, the time to complete a Web page download may no longer correspond to something a user perceives as important, because (for example) the client engine may be prefetching some of the downloaded content for future use. Standard tools that measure the time for Web page downloads to complete can record misleading data for RIAs. To implement RIAs successfully, enterprises must re-evaluate their approach to performance management. Instead of relying on the definition of physical Web pages to drive the subdivision of application response times, RIA developers or tool users must break the application into logical pages. Measurement tools must recognize meaningful application milestones or markers that signal logical boundaries of interest for reporting, and subdivide the application’s response time accordingly.
The Importance of Web Performance Management
What does Web application performance mean to you? Most business executives would evaluate the success of a Web application by looking at business performance metrics such as revenue, costs, and customer satisfaction. Because an application may be created to serve customers, partners, members of an organization, or employees, the relative importance of those metrics may vary. For any Web application, effectiveness means simply fulfilling the planned design and delivery objectives, delivering online experiences that lead to satisfied customers, and so meeting the intended business performance goals.