Aberdeen spotlights Web application performance

* Firm shares best practices for optimizing Web application performance in the enterprise

When application performance suffers, so does business performance.

Last year Aberdeen Group released research showing that issues with application performance could impact corporate revenue by up to 9%. Now the research firm has new data that shows just how quickly Web visitors can get turned off by poor Web application performance.

In a study of 160 organizations surveyed in November, Aberdeen found that business performance begins to suffer after 5.1 seconds of delay in the response times of Web applications. An additional one-second delay in response times can impact customer satisfaction by up to 16% and impact conversions by up to 7%.

“For each second of delay, your business performance can be significantly impacted,” says Bojan Simic, an Aberdeen analyst and author of the new research report (which is available here for free until Jan. 30).

A key takeaway from the research is that companies need to be able to gauge end users' application experience, Simic says. But it’s not as simple as monitoring gear, he adds.

“There are still a lot of people who think quality of end-user experience is something that can be measured internally, that if you have good capabilities for monitoring your internal infrastructure, then you should have a good idea about what end users are experiencing,” Simic says. But it’s not about that. “Many other things can impact the quality of end user experience,” including users’ network connections, browsers and more, he says.

To that end, 48% of survey respondents say they are taking action or planning to take action so they can better measure application performance from the end-users’ perspective.

Other actions companies are considering include: improving application performance in the development stage (cited by 39% of respondents); conducting load testing of Web applications prior to their launch (32%); benchmarking application performance against competitors or industry leaders (24%); and measuring the impact of performance issues on revenues (18%).

When it comes to best practices for optimizing Web apps, the companies that Aberdeen says are best-in-class share a few capabilities. For example, they are nearly three-times more likely to be able to monitor performance across multiple browsers and end-user platforms than other companies. They are nearly four-times more likely to have tools for balancing content demands across devices dynamically, and three times more likely to be able to measure end-user experiences via passive monitoring.

For those who want to improve Web application performance, Aberdeen cites a few must-do actions: Develop capabilities for a job-specific view into application performance; deploy capabilities for monitoring the geographical distribution of content demands; and deploy tools for load testing of Web applications.

One thing that makes it hard to stay on top of Web application performance is getting IT staff members from different areas to work together. Nearly half of respondents (45%) said one of their top challenges is coordinating application developers, server teams and network management.

“Organizations are increasingly realizing that the communication between application development and the systems and network is important for two reasons: faster troubleshooting of performance issues and eliminating performance issues before applications are rolled out into production,” Simic wrote in the report.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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