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Web Apps Will Be Built in the Cloud: Keynote Systems Exec

Exclusive Q&A with Rajeev Kutty, Keynote Systems

In this Exclusive Q&A with Jeremy Geelan of SYS-CON's Cloud Computing Journal in August 2008, Rajeev Kutty of Keynote Systems speaks of the factors currently driving companies to increase their effort in monitoring the performance of their Web and mobile applications, and about how Keynote foresees an enormous increase in the number of Web applications being built in the cloud and programmers using cloud computing platforms like Apps Engine, Force.com., Microsoft Mesh, Bungee Connect – all Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) providers.

Cloud Computing Journal: Web 2.0 approaches have now established themselves firmly in many enterprises, with everyone rushing headlong to deploy their content on the four screens. How thoroughly have such companies been checking performance of their corporate site on actual browsers, networks, and mobile devices?

Rajeev Kutty: With more companies adopting Web 2.0 we have noticed the following:

  • The speed with which new applications and entire business models come to market is ever faster: Nowadays, new updates need to happen every week (some companies even do new releases every day) instead of once a quarter.

  • The complexity of applications has grown infinitely: Easy to use programming languages (e.g. RoR) coupled with the high expectations from customers greatly influence the application complexity (e.g. streaming video and smart phone compatibility).

  • The increased power of the browsers: With the growing popularity of SaaS coupled with rich internet technologies like AJAX, Web applications are becoming client heavy with the browser being the universal client.

All of these factors are driving companies to increase their effort in monitoring the performance of their Web and mobile applications.

However, the same issues that were present in Web 1.0, which kept people in the dark about the real technical quality their site was providing, have not been eliminated in the Web 2.0 world. If a company did not have internal discipline and processes in place for performance management, and specifically around managing from the end user's experience (i.e. actual browsers, networks, devices) this has likely not changed just because they are using XML or Flash. At many organizations, there still is a very client server centric model for performance management and monitoring. Measure servers, measure networks, measure the components. Don't worry about anything "outside" of what we can control.

Of course this is extremely short sighted and in some ways completely ineffective in the world of the Web. You can't understand the quality of your Web experience by looking at your server uptime or your network throughput.

On the other side of the coin, there are many companies that always cared about performance management and understand the tight linkage to user satisfaction, and/or are being forced to consider it along with their push into Web 2.0. These companies generally understand the value of real browser measurement because so much is now happening in the browser, and especially in light of Web 2.0 technology. And they are measuring their new sites, not just single pages or home pages, but entire sites with a browser, from various external points and on mobile devices.

Cloud Computing Journal: What about the biggest meta-trend of them all: the movement toward The Cloud. How does Keynote Systems define Cloud Computing?

RK: Cloud computing represents a new paradigm for Web performance and provides a new challenge for developing and managing complex service-based applications. Developers are now moving away from writing and hosting applications on their own servers and moving into the cloud. They now store files and data on remote networks using the Internet. Previously, IT departments could quickly solve performance issues in their controlled environment. Now the performance challenges reside in the cloud or even various clouds. Now you need to control application performance across clouds.

With cloud computing, Keynote foresees an enormous increase in the number of Web applications being built in the cloud and programmers using cloud computing platforms like Apps Engine, Force.com., Microsoft Mesh, Bungee Connect - all Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) providers.

Cloud Computing Journal: Do you see similar issues there in terms of performance that businesses need to be aware of and get ahead of?

RK: Given that an application's performance will greatly be affected by how the application is built (composite applications) and by the performance of the underlying cloud infrastructure, Keynote sees greater use of its services when more and more applications start utilizing the cloud computing platform.

Performance testing across platforms becomes essential to diagnose and fix issues. An application's performance is influenced by the performance of each cloud and the interaction between clouds - a new paradigm.

Businesses are better off having insights into the performance of their applications right from the development stage to the production stage. The key is to test early in the lifecycle -- before the application goes into QA and then into production.

Cloud Computing Journal: Keynote is launching its KITE 2.0 solution: what differentiates that offering from anything else out there on the market?

RK: There are five key differentiators...

  • KITE is a single Performance Testing Environment for three teams/stakeholders across the Web Application Management Lifecycle: Web developers, quality assurance (QA) and IT operations teams. Today all of the people in the application delivery chain use their own tools, which creates communication barriers across the application lifecycle and prevents having a single view of the Web application.
  • KITE enables real-time testing and analyzing of the performance of Web applications. You get results in seconds, instead of hours, and can immediately fix the problem.
  • KITE runs instant single and multi-page transactions from the desktop and across the Internet cloud using Keynote's Global Test and Measurement Infrastructure. Other tools in the market only provide desktop--based tests that tell you nothing about cloud performance.
  • KITE 2.0 is designed from the ground up to be a performance analysis tool that can be used in all stages of the application management lifecycle. Users can not only record scripts to measure the performance of the Web application from their desktop but also use the same scripts to get the performance from five global cities using the Keynote measurement network. Web developers, QA engineers and Web operations can share the same scripts across the application life cycle. This gives them invaluable insight into the performance issues as seen from an end customer's perspective globally and helps make improvements to the application during the development stage itself.
  • The key is that performance testing is built into the application right from the start!

Cloud Computing Journal: What's been the reaction of your beta testers? What features have developers particularly welcomed? Who else do you expect to utilize it?

Keynote has an Early Adopter Program, allowing qualified candidates to download KITE and test their Web applications for free using Keynote's global infrastructure.

At O'Reilly's recent Velocity Web Performance & Operations show, we demonstrated KITE. Here's a video capturing some of the first reactions we captured from people who signed up for the Early Adopter Program:http://kite.keynote.com/video/keynote-kite/keynote-kite.html

Cloud Computing Journal: How can a product like KITE help developers improve the performance of their Web applications from the end user perspective. What kinds of metrics does it offer?

RK: One of the most powerful features of KITE is the ability to instantly measure the performance of the application from five global cities for free. In addition to a detailed list of network performance information including IP address, load times for each element, errors in the page, etc., developers can instantly identify the performance of their Web application for returning vs. new visitors across the world using the metrics KITE provides on the effect of cache on the application.

KITE also provides detailed request and response header information for each element which will help them fine tune the performance of those elements.

Cloud Computing Journal: What then are the principle use cases of KITE 2.0 as Keynote sees them?

RK: KITE 2.0 can be used by multiple teams in an organization to get insight into the Web application performance from both the desktop and various locations worldwide.

Web Application Developers can use it to identify performance bottlenecks while the application is in development. KITE provides a host of metrics that can help developers decide on the caching, image sizes, size of the headers, etc.

Quality Assurance (QA) teams can use the point-and-click ease of the KITE interface to develop complex test cases easily and at a much faster rate, thus allowing them to test the performance for each scenario without writing a single line of code.

Web Operations team can use KITE to check for the performance bottlenecks to identify issues with the application, CDN performance or hardware infrastructure. Web operations team can group the information by domains and easily spot the servers that slow down the application and take corrective actions.

Cloud Computing Journal: What effect has the iPhone had on the industry as a whole do you think? Has it accelerated consumer adoption of richer applications? How about the enterprise?

RK: While Apple has been very effective at promoting the advanced browsing experience available with the iPhone, internet browsers have been available on mobile devices for a while. Nokia's support for Safari on some of it's devices, including the E61/E62 has been there for sometime. Other browsers, like Opera Mobile are also sporting a richer browsing experience on Nokia S60 and Windows Mobile platforms. While these browsers are not yet capable of everything that an Internet Web user can do (neither is the iPhone for that matter), they're still very good and the competition Apple has created should only spur the market for further improvements in this area.

Having said that, even with the iPhone's success in navigating standard Internet content, you still see developers creating device-specific rich mobile web apps - even for the iPhone. Apple lists over 2100 on their website alone (http://www.apple.com/webapps/), most developed by third parties. What this really illustrates is that a mobile device, as advanced as the software becomes, is still different enough from a PC that content adapted for one will not be optimal to view on the other.

Some of the factors that contribute to this, such as CPU and network speeds will continue to evolve and improve. However, other factors such as display sizes and local input mechanisms, by their very nature are and should remain different (as dictated by the form factor).

So, while a richer internet experience will continue to evolve on the mobile device, content adapted for mobile will also increase. In fact, taking a step back even further, it is quite likely that in the next decade or two we will see more mobile devices surfing the web than PCs. In that era, we may start talking about adapting content for the large screen (PC), rather than the other way around both in the consumer and in the enterprise market.

Cloud Computing Journal: What is the pricing model for KITE 2.0? How does Keynote monetize the offering?

RK: KITE is offered free. We request users to sign up at kite.keynote.com to download their copy.


About Rajeev Kutty, Keynote Systems
Rajeev Kutty serves as a product manager in charge of a number of important Keynote Web performance test & measurement services including VoIP and streaming. Prior to joining Keynote, Kutty co-founded a software start up commercializing AI-based data modeling technology. He has over ten years of product development and consulting experience at companies such as HP and Panasas. He has an engineering degree in electronics & communications and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University where he was awarded the Enterprise Award with Special Distinction.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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radixweb 08/21/08 05:46:27 AM EDT

Great Post on Web-Based Future......

Java Web Application Development..................

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