For those who find it essential to monitor intranet usage and traffic, WebTrends has long been regarded as the best log analysis software for Windows NT and 2000 systems. Having been absorbed by NetIQ in March, they are redefining the way they do business with their latest release.
WebTrends debuted its new logo Monday, released its revamped website, and announced it would redefine Web metricsor at least transform the analysis of Web metric analysis.
The WebTrends website has been redesigned; utilizing information gathered from its own software. The site design is intended to help the various WebTrends customers find what they need quickly. Like a chef who eats the food he or she cooks, the fact that WebTrends uses its own software is a most sincere endorsement.
The software maker is focusing on building better, faster, and easier-to-read Web stats. With its 4.0 release this week, WebTrends now offers three new mid-range software bundles, the Enterprise Server product plus special editions of the software, one for service providers and another for large enterprises. But you need to know what WebTrends defines as a large enterprise before you can select the suite that suits your business.
Before examining WebTrends new offerings, we need to think like WebTrends software developers. Since it only deals with customers' websites, not its customers' businesses, WebTrends measures the size of a company's Web presence, rather than its offline business.
Jason Campbell, WebTrends Reporting Center product manager, notes that some really huge businesses have only a small Web channel. Additionally, WebTrends has developed proprietary specifications in order to define a large log file, but large log files don't necessarily indicate a large Web presence. Confused? Campbell explains.
"Different log files that take up the same amount of disk space can take different amounts of time to analyze. An Apache log file uses very short lines and therefore contains many records while a Microsoft IIS log file recording the use of dynamic content will have fewer records because the data requires longer lines," Campbell said.
"We prefer to think of logs in terms of records per second analyzed, and a log file that requires that 7,000 to 9,000 records be analyzed per second is a large file," he added.
WebTrends 4.0 also accounts for the intensity of a client's Web presence. Businesses that use streaming media, host multiple sites and mirror sites, or host hundreds of domains -- like some Internet service providers -- require special log file analysis. For example, WebTrends top-of-the-line software upgrade includes something called VRM, short for Visitor Relationship Management. It's like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), but differs because it analyzes database-driven e-commerce website log files by visitor, not necessarily by customer.
The WebTrends Reporting Center Series is made for medium to large businesses and includes the functionality of the former Enterprise Reporting Server (ERS) product, plus various optional modules. New features include the ability to isolate visitor behavior of those using PDAs or WAP phones.
Also new is the ability to analyze the use of streaming media in great detail. WebTrends can measure the amount of data delivered by Real, Quicktime, and Windows Media servers, and can check how much of a streaming media clip was viewed. The software includes more than 250 predefined tables and graphs so that users can extract a plethora of minute details about their website performance.
WebTrends also added the ability to track the time required to serve a Web page in terms of the time between a request for a Web page and the receipt of the client's success code. Other editions of the new release include:
- Enterprise Edition: Capable of distinguishing between casual and qualified visitors, allows shopping cart analysis, and tracks the success of Web-based advertising campaigns by following the behavior of visitors who are referred to the site by specific banner ads. Includes 100 predefined tables and graphs for marketing analysis and Enterprise Configuration Module (defined below).
- Service Provider Edition: Includes the Enterprise Configuration Module, a simple but sweet agent that chops up log files and delivers various versions of the data they are allowed to view. Program is designed for Webhosts and other service providers including Internet, managed and application varieties. Also offers an Enterprise Hosting Module capable of creating separate reports for each domain hosted.
"We tried to anticipate the needs of service providers and automate tasks that could be very time-consuming," Campbell said. "In the Linux world especially, some service providers are generating very large log files."
Finally, there are two optional modules that contain special features for data collection of live log analysis and reviewing advanced content server log files. The Data Collection Server (DCS) is the WebTrends Live data collection mechanism sold to customers so that they can collect live data themselves. It requires Java script on every web page tracked, but the script collects the stats and sends them to a single log server determined by the customer. Anyone using many different servers may find this very useful.
There is some difference between the stats gathered. For example, if a user started to load a page and hit the "Stop" button before the WebTrends Live Java script loaded, the log analysis software would count that as a hit, while WebTrends live would not. And if cookies are turned off, WebTrends Live counts each page view as a distinct user, while the software can still track the user.
On the other hand, WebTrends Live can gather data stored in the browser that is not stored in the log file, such as platform, time zone, browser, screen size, plug-ins, products purchased, and amount of money spent. We should note that credit cards data is not collected by WebTrends Live.
The second module, dubbed the Data Conduits module is designed for log analysis based on advanced content management systems such as Vignette's StoryServer, BroadVison products, or Macromedia's Spectra. This module allows WebTrends to query the database and convert the URL into a database field.
Pricing and Availability
All versions and modules of WebTrends 4.0 family of releases are available now and pricing is based on a per-server basis:
- Basic eBusiness Edition costs $3,500 for the first server for Microsoft Windows 2000/NT and Red Hat Linux editions ($5,000 for the Solaris edition) and $2,000 for each additional server.
- Enterprise Edition costs $10,000 for the first server and $5,000 for each additional server.
- The Service Provider Edition costs $3,500 per server. WebTrends also has a special offer for service providers. Instead of paying a one-time fee, providers can opt into pay-as-you-go pricing. Annual fees start at $15 per domain on a $5,000 minimum charge agreement.
- The Data Collection Server module costs $20,000 for the first server and $1,000 for each additional server. WebTrends also charges additional maintenance fees.
- The Data Conduits module (for advanced content management systems) costs $15,000 to set up, after which WebTrends charges maintenance fees.