Mercury Rises to Web Site Testing Challenge

Need your Web site stress-tested by the end of the week? Mercury Interactive now offers an outsourced service that guarantees 24-hour turnaround on load balancing, capacity and other performance tests conducted over the Internet.

Mercury Interactive is a leading provider of Web site testing tools, with its flagship LoadRunner software. Last week, the company announced a service based on LoadRunner called ActiveTest, which generates traffic, measures response times and identifies bottlenecks. With ActiveTest, Mercury Interactive's staff creates LoadRunner test scripts, manages the testing process and provides recommendations for enhancing performance. Customers of ActiveTest include athletesfoot.com, WebMD and Travelocity.

Mercury Interactive officials say they are the first to offer a hosted Web site testing service. The company has a server farm that emulates thousands of users hitting a Web site at the same time. If the site performs slowly, the service can pinpoint whether the problem lies in network bandwidth, server capacity or some other area, says Zohar Gilad, vice president of product marketing.

"We can create Web traffic equivalent to more than 100,000 plus users and Web server load of 3 billion hits per day," Gilad says. "We have the capacity to test any Web site."

ActiveTest is ideal for start-up ventures that don't have the money for testing staff and equipment, says Deanna Falcon, director of customer care and quality assurance for bitlocker.com. Launched in beta mode a few weeks ago, bitlocker.com is a free service that lets consumers build and maintain databases over the Web. Bitlocker.com provides templates for creating the database as well as the database management system software, backups and other maintenance services.

"ActiveTest was a real lifesaver for us," Falcon says, explaining that Mercury identified bandwidth and system configuration problems that bitlocker.com's developers had not discovered. "It saved us and our customers from having not such a good initial user experience," Falcon adds.

ActiveTest starts at $15,000. Once a company purchases ActiveTest, they can have the test scripts to run themselves on LoadRunner or Topaz, Mercury Interactive's Web site monitoring software package. Mercury Interactive also offers a Web site monitoring service based on Topaz called ActiveWatch.

Mercury Interactive: www. merc-int.com.

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