SolarWinds has a new synthetic user test tool being announced today, the Synthetic End User Monitor. They are branching out to generalized IT management tools and the product can be used to test a variety of web application situations, including cloud computing, e-commerce and Web access to databases.
Network admins can easily record a web transaction by simply starting the recorder, performing the necessary steps of the transaction and hitting the stop button. Think of a screen recorder but for the actual Web apps. This is all done without any scripting or programming needed. Transaction delays as you move from screen to screen are captured in real time. Once the recording is done, you can play this back from a website to see how the site handles the increased load, for example. It can be set to run automatically once every five minutes, and then provide a summary of the transactions, so you can easily spot trouble points and resolve them with your apps. The last half of this short video from Solarwinds shows you the tool being used.
SolarWinds has tons of other tools that can examine the contents of the data packets passing back and forth and examine network management tasks.
The starting price for SEUM for up to three recorded transactions is $2000 but most of their customers will probably end up paying typically $10,000 or less for the monitoring. They compete with many synthetic user testing tools including HP's Business Processing Monitor, Keynote, Applabs and others. They claim their product will cost less for equivalent functionality.
If you want to try out the tool, they will offer a stripped-down version called Web Transaction Watcher that takes the recorder portion of SEUM and the ability to playback a single transaction. The data recorded by the free tool can be manipulated with the paid SEUM version.