It is SEUM pre-release week here at SolarWinds and my inbox is aflutter with questions from customers asking some great questions about our new product.

For those not already “Synthetic Transaction Monitoring”, Synthetic End User Monitor (SEUM) is SolarWinds new product for providing end-user perspective visibility into the performance and availability of your websites and web based applications. SEUM offers customers an inexpensive alternative to traditional hosted and appliance based solutions for monitoring both publicly accessible and internally hosted websites and web based applications like Outlook Web Access, SharePoint Portals, Altiris and Remedy helpdesks, intranets and extranets.

What SEUM is not

We conducted several webcasts last week and the turnout was incredible. We received a ton of questions from the webcast participants, far more than we could answer during the webcast itself. I posted the Q&A SEUM Webcast FAQ on Thwack for the questions we didn’t get to and for those who were unable to attend. One question that came up during every webcast, as well as popping up in my inbox on a recurring basis is whether SEUM is a load test tool.

SEUM is not a load generator, stress testing, or load simulator tool. Load testing is specialized software usually reserved for developers to find inefficiencies in code under severe load. These tools are usually used once, maybe twice if problems are found and never used again. After all, who wants to bring their production webserver or web application to a screeching halt under the crushing weight of a load generator on a regular basis anyway?

So what is SEUM then?

SEUM allows you to monitor complex multi-step transactions on your critical web based applications and websites for performance and availability issues in a distributed architecture. Using the SEUM Recorder you simply walk through the steps in the web based application that you’d like monitored, no differently than you would any other web browser. This process is then saved as a “transaction” and assigned to a local or remote player where the recorded transaction is synthetically played back on a regular interval. If any step in the recorded transaction takes longer than expected or a page returns an unexpected result such as an error, you’re alerted to the problem long before your end users even know there is an issue. You can even visualize your users experience from multiple geographic locations to make troubleshooting easier.

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But I only have one location

Not a problem. There’s no requirement to monitor from multiple locations or even remotely. If your critical web based applications are exclusively accessible internally, then you can use the player built into the SEUM server. If your website, intranet, extranet, portal or other web based application is accessible globally and you need visibility into how it’s performing from different geographic locations, there are quite a few low cost cloud options like Amazon E2C and Microsoft’s Azure where you can host the player remotely.

When development did some testing of the SEUM Player a few weeks back they used a "Small Instance" on Amazon’s E2C. This cost approximately $0.12 an hour. That ends up being about $88.00 a month for a single instance. You can even get lower pricing if you pay an upfront price to "reserve" an instance for a year. This drops the monthly price to about $37.00 a month per instance. That’s less than what I pay for Internet access! Needless to say this is a very inexpensive way to provide regional or even global monitoring of your websites and web based applications.

Questions & Comments

Undoubtedly some of you reading this still have unanswered questions you’re dying to ask, so feel free to post them below or in the SEUM Forum and we’ll answer them as quickly as we can. If you’d like to see SEUM in action, check out Josh and Mike’s video on YouTube or contact sales to get your hands on an evaluation of the SEUM pre-release.