Gomez GPN: Web Monitoring With a Smile

GPN sends SNMP-based alerts that your network-management system can receive and process.

August 26, 2002

4 Min Read
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The GPN 3.5 includes highly configurable alerts to be sent on a per-node basis, via e-mail or pager, to any number of addresses, with customized subject heads dependent on the type of alert. Options for alert types include page response time, number or percentage of object failures per page and content match failures. Additionally, users can specify threshold limits based on monitoring nodes.

Kudos to Gomez for providing a more complex Web site monitoring product than do Keynote Systems and Compuware. Interestingly, the GPN service also offers more functionality for its price. Monitoring of a single URL from 35 domestic and 15 international PoPs (points of presence) costs $250 per month. A single transaction runs $750 per month, but there are no restrictions on the complexity of the transaction script.

A three-node dial-up monitoring service is also available, with single URL monitoring costing a mere $250 per month. A clean interface requiring Java and JavaScript for graphing and charting delivers a smart, pleasing presentation of performance stats.

In the LabsI took a beta version of the GPN 3.5 for a spin in our Green Bay, Wis., Real-World Labs®. Running two single URL tests was a breeze and required only that I enter the URL and specify if page objects should be loaded. Tests that load all objects are performed once an hour; tests that do not load objects are done every 5 minutes. Additional configuration, such as specifying an expiration date for tests, can be made on a per-URL basis or by groups of URLs.

I logged in, configured and ran the GPN as prescribed. After receiving several daily reports via e-mail, I returned to the GPN Web site to set up alerts. For a single URL, alerts can be based on response time, host failure, page inaccessibility, page object failures and content-match failures. For transactions, alerts can be based on response time and transaction failures. I created a response time alert and a content match alert, modifying the text in the GPN to match against a slightly altered string to force a failure. As expected, I received e-mail alerts every 5 minutes. I moved on to setting up the software that would let the GPN send SNMP alerts to our Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold NMS.

A Microsoft Windows 2000 SP2 machine and a quick install had the GPN Alert Receiver ready to run. Gomez uses a Web-based Xml2Snmp receiver to listen for SNMP alerts wrapped in XML. When an alert is received, it parses out the SNMP alert and then forwards it to one or more configured trap receivers. Configuring the GPNs receiving software is not difficult, but it can be time-consuming. Once the software was installed, I tested the connectivity with clear-text transmissions via Port 80. You'll also undergo this process before tackling the more tedious job of setting up a secure SSL-based connection via Port 443. A simple, local SNMP trap receiver is included with the software for testing the initial setup.

For SSL configuration, Gomez will issue a certificate that needs to be imported into the GPN Receiver. The check box indicating "secured sockets" must be clicked. Unfortunately, because the system I tested was beta and SSL connectivity was not yet available, I could use only the clear text method for receiving alerts, but this was adequate.

Within minutes, I was getting alerts in my NMS. To reap the maximum benefit from the data in the alert, you'll need to compile and import Gomez's proprietary MIB.

Meet Your Visitors

The GPN 3.5 offers insight into the demographics of your Web site visitors via its Visitor Connectivity feature. I clicked on the Visitor Connectivity tab and was greeted with a configurable view of all visitors. The feature includes a graphical representation of several variables -- including any combo of geography, throughput and region -- based on the IP address of each visitor.

In addition to being useful for traffic management, this info may be valuable for marketing and sales personnel. You also get quick links to preconfigured Executive Reports that offer a look at potential conversion regions, peered network performance and traffic profiles.

Technology editor Lori MacVittie has been a software developer and a network administrator. Recently, she was a member of the technical architecture team for a global transportation and logistics organization. Send your comments on this article to her at [email protected].

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