California-based performance-testing firm Mercury Interactive has helped Cathay Pacific Airways identify bottlenecks in Internet traffic for its recently upgraded network of Web sites. With the use of load-testing tool LoadRunner, Cathay was able to predict system behaviour and performance for the sites. It detected a significant slowdown in the performance of its auction Web site under a load of more than 10 users. Christine Chan, Cathay's applications development support manager, said: 'This situation was definitely unexpected. What we discovered was that the server was tied up by insufficient capacity, causing it to hit a bottleneck. 'LoadRunner's analytical tools were able to pinpoint the root cause of the slowdown and help us make the necessary fine-tuning to rectify the problems.' The software also helped Cathay improve performance within the application infrastructure. After discovering that it took up to 40 seconds to load a page during stress testing, Cathay adjusted its system's cache allocation and cut it to less than 10 seconds. Cathay Pacific launched online air-ticket auctions late last year. In January, it launched an online check-in service. Yossi Meshulam, Mercury Interactive's Asia managing director, said the firm was offering other enterprise testing and performance management. 'We are new to people here but every company using IT [information technology] is our potential user,' he said. By testing and monitoring online applications, customers could see performance improvements of up to 400 per cent without any initial expense, Mr Meshulam said. 'We guarantee we would double the performance on their Web sites, otherwise we will give their money back. What we are actually doing is squeezing more juice out of their system without doing the initial investment,' he said. Time was particularly important to Hong Kong corporations, he said. 'It means value and availability. Productivity and efficiency will be enhanced with cutting operation time.' According to International Data Corp, mutual-fund company OppenheimerFunds in the United States received a return of nearly US$14 for every dollar invested in LoadRunner. US toy store KBKids reported a 203 per cent return after using Mercury's ActiveTest, a hosted load-testing service. Mr Meshulam said Mercury Interactive had considerable success in the financial services sector, and also had customers in the telecommunications and government sectors. 'From a business point of view, we are bridging the gap between IT and business users. If IT is not performing well, it has direct impact on revenue. Therefore, our business is to ensure you're making the best of your IT,' Mr Meshulam said. Business had kept growing despite the economic downturn, he said. Mercury reported 15 per cent growth from the first to the second quarters of this year, with revenues increasing from US$300 million last year to US$400 million this year. 'This year is very challenging. The growth is not as much as last year, but [it is] still very healthy,' he said. Mercury had also opened an office in Shanghai this year.