Peer Network Tests 'Real World' Site Performance

Companies can get 'last mile' performance stats for their Web sites across a range of profiles – while users get paid for helping out.

The new e-commerce site you launched looks great and you got great comments from beta testers. So why isn't it getting the traffic you expected?

One issue might be the site, or certain pages, are not as easily accessible to as many customers as you assumed. There are many Web site performance measurement tools, but they don't all measure the so-called "last mile" or performance at specific endpoints, i.e. user's desktops.

Enter Gomez, which has quietly grown its peer network measurement solution to over 40,000 users worldwide. Like other Web performance companies, Gomez has a distributed set of test nodes that measure Internet backbone performance, but the company said its additional Gomez Peer Community is the only global Web site monitoring network made up of real online users.

The service works much like the SETI@Home project (which utilizes many computers to crunch numbers in the search for extraterrestrial life) and others like Folding@Home.

Gomez Peer Network runs tests that measure the speed, availability and consistency of Web performance on various desktop systems. Users need to download an intelligent agent software application to participate. The software emulates the most popular Internet browsers, and then executes tests in the background when the peer machine is online.

Gomez said its software is a hundred percent non-invasive, cannot track the individual client's personal Web usage or collect any private data. Those who participate receive a small stipend that tops out at $45 per month, though you'd likely need to be a small network, like an Internet café, to reach that level.

"Gomez is one of the more interesting performance measurement companies, because they have a lot of endpoints, but they don't own the endpoints," Dan Golding, research director at Tier1 Research, told "Internet backbone performance might be really, really good. The trick is find out how are your transactions and interactions performing at the edge of the network."

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