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Compuware Angles for IT (ad)Vantage

Compuware officials are about to debut the latest version of the software productivity company's application performance monitoring software Monday, featuring management-level analytics to inform IT managers of network and application problems.

Vantage 9 is the flagship software offering for the Detroit-based performance management and services developer. The software went public in Europe earlier this week.

The latest iteration of the software adds another level of capabilities to its three existing components -- ClientVantage, ServerVantage and NetworkVantage -- that monitor a company's applications, servers and network.

John Williams, Compuware's Vantage launch director, said it takes analytics beyond the individual components and lets IT departments determine the root cause for an application, or network, failure at the end-user level.

Giving managers the tools to monitor the corporate intranet has become a hot spot for software developers today, said Dana Gardner, an analyst at the Yankee Group, and an untapped area for optimization.

"The whole idea of improving the management of application lifecycle is a hot area for the next couple years," he said. "Cutting the bottom line and improving the quality of the service, these two goals that the buyers have are starting to be addressed by the vendors."

Compuware's goal, Williams said, is to help IT departments find the problems on the network before anyone else in the company finds them. He points to a Giga Research report that shows that 50 percent of end-user problems were not detected by the IT staff using infrastructure monitoring software; the report further showed that IT only became aware of the problem through a help desk call, and that it took five or six more calls to characterize the problem.

"That's a very uncomfortable position for IT to be in, to have problems they are unaware of, and to have users call and they know nothing about it. So what the end-user perspective provides is the ability to be more on top of the situation and be more proactive."

It's a shift, he said, from a network-centric view of application performance to service-centric. Vantage, to date, has been more of a network-centric tool, offering analysis tools at the application, client, network and server layers, as well as an integrated console to report across the different layers.

"What we didn't have was management-level views, and then the ability to drill down to a granular transaction view with a client/network/server breakdown, and then the ability to drill down in a correlated fashion to the underlying analytics," he said.

In a nutshell, what Vantage 9 provides is a console view for someone in the IT department (or anyone else trained in the software) to look at the applications and servers running on the network, selecting one of the three that isn't performing well and finding the root cause of the network hiccups. The company claims Vantage 9 obviates the need to bring in a consultant, because the cause of the delay -- be it network, server or application -- is displayed in the console.

What sets Compuware's product apart from the rest, Gardner said, is its ability to monitor custom built, home-grown, applications developed in-house. Many of Compuware's competitors, like IBM and Mercury Interactive , are able to handle packaged software applications like Oracle or SAP, but not IT-created applications.

"(Vantage 9) is giving customers the chance to manage them better," Gardner said.