'Black box' software probes app crashes

Faster diagnosis, quicker fix

Application troubleshooting outfit Identify Software claims that deployment of its "black box" recorder software can reduce the time needed to resolve software problems by as much as 80 per cent.

Most support desks currently run an inefficient manual process to tackle software headaches; this means that customers end up with extended (and expensive) periods of downtime. Identify Software's AppSight minimises downtime caused by application problems, by making it easier to pick out what caused the software problem in the first place, the company said

Appsight captures a log of the status of a system up to and around the time of system problems. "It [AppSight] captures the 'scene of crime' where a problem occurred," Aren Modai, VP of European operations for Identify, said. This log can be shared between developers to greatly speed the process of problem resolution.

"You don't have to replicate problems because you have a record. Developers spend half their time resolving probs, so AppSight is of great benefit. Our technology doesn't give developers a fix for problems but it does speed root cause analysis. AppSight is far more effective than in-house tools or brainstorming," Modai said.

The technology won't identify problems that are caused by either network or hardware problems - separate tools are required. But AppSight can help pinpoint software problems, which often prove the most difficult to isolate and resolve. It enables developers to follow transactions giving them a "visibility into applications", according to the company.

Although described as a "black box recorder" for software applications, Identify's AppSight technology is most often put into play on applications that are already known to be problematic. Few organisations use it to record all the states of a healthy system. Identify's customers are split evenly between banks, whoichtypically use its technology to speed application problem resolution on bespoke ebanking apps, and independent software vendors. AppSight is available for either Microsoft (including .NET) or J2EE software development environments and require minimal configuration in either case, according to Identify.

Modai said the biggest problem facing Identify Software is that there's "very little recognition" for application support as an issue so organisations aren't budgeting for technology that addresses one of the greatest headaches developers face.

"People are used to working the way they are. But by investing in problem resolution technology they can reduce the time it takes to solve problems, saving money and freeing up developer time to create better applications," he said.

Identify Software is a privately-held Israeli company ,with US headquarters in North Carolina. It currently employs 130 people. Many of its senior executives come from Mercury Interactive. ®

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