EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. (06/21/2000) - Candle Corp. this week will announce an enhanced version of its Web site performance monitoring tool that company officials claim is the first product of its kind to provide detailed information about Web site users while protecting their privacy.
Candle's e-Business Assurance (eBA) Service Monitor takes an unusual approach to measuring and monitoring Web site response time. Competing products use robots or network probes to simulate a user's experience on a Web site, but Candle's server software automatically loads a Java applet onto a user's system to record the user's experience. Candle also measures the user's navigational path and the amount of time spent on particular Web pages.
With Version 1.1 of eBA Service Monitor, Candle can monitor unique user sessions anonymously without using cookies that track identities. Web publishers can tap Candle's updated monitoring tool to find out how long it takes a user to perform certain tasks, such as paying a bill or buying a stock, without knowing that user's identity.
"We have added some code into the product to be able to anonymously track people," says Karl Kotalik, senior director of e-business assurance solutions at Candle. "We can gather that very valuable user information, and at the same time we won't invade anyone's privacy."
Candle also added the ability to tag particular Web pages for monitoring prior to putting the pages into production - a feature that should save time for operators of complex e-commerce sites. Jean-Pierre Garbani, a senior industry analyst at Giga Information Group in Cambridge, Mass., says privacy protection is a nice feature to have but is not relevant to developers trying to maximize Web site performance.
"If I'm in charge of capacity management for a Web site, the fact that this data is anonymous doesn't bring me anything," Garbani says. "I'm interested in the numbers, not who or where they were generated." Garbani says end users will appreciate the privacy protection, and the new feature will likely reinforce Candle's position as the leader in Web site response time measurement.
Candle's eBA Service Monitor runs on Web server software from Microsoft Corp., Apache and Netscape Communications Corp. Pricing starts at $2,000 for a starter pack that measures 10 URLs on a Web server. Enterprise configurations cost $100,000 and up. Candle also offers a hosted service that costs $2,000 per month. Version 1.1 of the product and hosted service will be available June 30.
Candle's hosted service helped online retailer jewelry.com determine that its customer response time was too slow compared to its competitors, says founder Paul Rajewski.
"We figured out very quickly that our images were too big or too far away," Rajewski says. So jewelry.com shrunk its images and hired Web caching vendor Digital Island to place them closer to Internet users. "Our average user times were around four seconds - the same as our competition."
Rajewski says Candle's new feature for tracking how individual users navigate through a site would be useful, too. "Who's going where - that's going to be critical information," he says. "You only have so much space. If you have a link that nobody ever clicks on, you're wasting that space."
With revenue of $380 million in 1999, Candle has more than 4,000 enterprise customers.