Database Specialist Quest Expands Into Application Management

Application Advantage will provide monitoring, management, and problem diagnosis for both Windows applications and those from major ERP suppliers.
Getting better performance out of existing applications is a goal for many IT departments. Quest Software, which rang up $476 million in revenue last year as a supplier of add-on tools for optimizing database systems, is adding application management to its portfolio. With its database expertise, Quest has previously dabbled in monitoring and managing running applications. Its Foglight Experience Viewer, introduced earlier this year, allows the capture and replay of live user sessions, showing an application's response times to user actions.

At the Microsoft Management Summit in April, Quest said it would provide software to manage applications built with Microsoft .Net tools. Now Quest is rolling up these efforts into a software suite, Application Advantage, that will provide monitoring, management, and problem diagnosis for both Windows applications and those from major ERP suppliers, starting with SAP AG, says Larry Humphries, VP of product management for the Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based company.

During the JavaOne conference in mid-May, Quest demonstrated Zanzibar, a tool for automated deployment of changes to a distributed application, documenting the changes and correlating them to subsequent performance data. A related goal of Zanzibar is to increase the reliability of distributed application changes, keeping a company within compliance requirements, Humphries says. No date has been set for Zanzibar's availability.

Quest application management tools support enhanced database system performance. Quest's database tools support multiple vendors, including IBM DB2, Oracle, Microsoft's SQL Server, and open-source MySQL. In the past Quest has been one of the few third-party software companies to offer tools to manage multiple major database systems. Ray LeFabvre, a database administrator at StrideRite, prefers to manage his Oracle databases through the Quest management interface.

Application Advantage will be able to watch a chain of application activity, from the user to the database, says Tyler Jewell, Quest director of product management. With Experience Viewer software agents actively monitoring application interactions, troubleshooters and customer support "can see the response to an end user, see what the user typed in and what he got back almost in real time...and notify technical support to help that person out" if there is a transaction blockage, he says.

Competitors to Quest's Application Advantage include Mercury Interactive's Business Technology Optimization, TeaLeaf's RealiTea, IBM's Tivoli, HP's OpenView, and CA Unicenter's Management for Web Servers.

Quest on May 22 announced a special committee to investigate its past stock option grants. Lazard Capital Markets analyst John Rizutto said in a May 24 report that Quest may have to restate its earnings. But he didn't anticipate any restatement to have a significant impact on Quest's cash flows. Lazard has maintained a buy rating on the stock of the 2,750-employee company based on the likelihood of continued strong revenue growth in 2006.

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