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Application Records Software Problems, Speeding Remedies

It might be the most wonderful time of the year in animated holiday shows, but on this side of the screen, customers are more demanding than ever. Meeting those demands is becoming an industry in itself.

Take, for example, MuTek Solutions Ltd., which sells a software-administration application called Black Box that monitors, records, and sends out alarms about application activity and performance. Black Box software records an application through its entire execution path, from the processor through memory, and in and out of system resources.

With it, companies can more quickly spot, diagnose, and fix problems, says Black Box fan Stephen Packard, a software engineer at Thomson Financial in Boston. Thomson recorded $1.44 billion in revenue last year selling advanced financial applications to money managers.

Depending on features requested, Israel-based MuTek charges from $100 to tens of thousands of dollars for Black Box. Software administrators configure the software to record any number of parameters.

Packard says Black Box "dramatically improves response times to our customers." They can even use Black Box to E-mail to Thomson an attachment that?s a recording of their problems. "We can have an answer in minutes."

Industry analyst Michele Hudnall at Meta Group says she needs more customer input before passing judgment on the product. But she says she can see how software such as Black Box could help companies involved with E-commerce. "This could work for any IT executive who needs to put up a Web site when time to market is critical," Hudnall says. "The IT executive meets the time-to-market demands, without degrading company credibility from a sustained outage."

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