A few weeks ago I got a note from a reader wondering about low-cost Web acceleration products."I work for a small Internet company as the senior IT director," this reader wrote. "Aren't there some Web acceleration solutions that won't cost me an arm and a leg?"It's true I have focused primarily on expensive devices and services geared for larger enterprises. But I'm curious to hear what smaller companies are using when it comes to speeding up Web sites and Web-based applications. Let me know what products and services you've used that have given you the boost in performance you need without breaking the bank. Send comments to mailto:email@example.comIn the meantime, I did speak with a company a while ago about a monitoring service that seems relatively reasonable. This isn't a Web acceleration service, but it fits in nicely with any performance-boosting services or products you might be using.The vendor is WebmasterSolutions and the product is AppMonitor. AppMonitor is a managed service that keeps an eye on transaction times from more than 15 points of presence around the globe. Customers using the service, which costs between $330 and $750 a month, include Symantec, Petco and HP.Tim Drees, a former systems engineer at NaviSite, started the company in 1999. "I saw a need for application monitoring or transaction monitoring," he says. "If customers at NaviSite had transactional problems on their Web sites, they had to call NaviSite to tell them transactions weren't going through."Drees wanted to create a service that would automatically tell companies when their Web sites had problems. AppMonitor monitors Web sites based on transactions that customers define, such as order fulfillment, stock purchase and catalog procurement. The service runs test scripts to challenge the performance and availability of e-business functions. Customers then get performance reports so they can see exactly how their Web site transactions are performing. The AppMonitor service requires no software or plug-ins, the company says.