Connection with Third Party Management Products
Application Management for eBusiness Managers
By Chris Smith, Xtremesoft, Inc.
eCommerce applications require a similar management infrastructure. Deploying eCommerce applications without management software in place is like deploying a field sales force without supervision. And you want to ensure that you are managing them with appropriate measures - you don't manage a sales force by simply tracking T&E expenses; you manage interactions with customers, sales pipeline, etc. With eCommerce applications, you need application management software. Systems management software only monitors the health of the system. You need application management software in place to measure transactions and business logic.
This paper discusses application management - its history and current state. It compares and contrasts the types of application management solutions currently available. While debuggers and response time tools monitor and measure, Xtremesoft AppMetrics for Transactions is a more comprehensive solution in offering:
In forming the basis for business, the Internet has thrust technology into the limelight. Formerly used to support back-office operations, today's applications form the basis for almost all aspects of business. As a result, the number of applications has expanded exponentially, the size of each application has grown, and integration between applications has become essential. And that just takes care of the basics. Every executive can point to companies that, despite investments of millions, still failed. What are the critical factors that enable some organizations to flourish in today's economy while others flounder?
Applications alone are not enough. Successful companies require an application architecture that is flexible enough to support new applications and to integrate them seamlessly into those already in place. This architecture must be integral to business requirements and must be managed effectively to:
Organizations that base their business on e-business applications want to be sure those apps are peak performers. After all, when it comes to mission-critical applications, they require reliability. Maximum performance. As much scalability as their infrastructures can support. And if any transactions fail, they need to know about it, fast. They need to manage their applications, but not using - traditional metrics such as PageFault or I/O rates. Metrics need to reflect the business modules of the applications, and businesses require an application management solution that provides the information needed to make rapid, e-business-based decisions.
Most people have a notion of what network bandwidth means: how many packets can be moved across the network per unit of time. Most understand that more is better. But how does network bandwidth relate to how much business is being transacted? If you are responsible for understanding the return on investment on application infrastructure, you need to measure the capacity of your infrastructure in business terms.
Xtremesoft Business Bandwidth Solutions manage the business logic of your application, keeping you on top of your e-business commitments, service level agreements, and throughput goals.
Application Management: Historical Perspective
A number of servers perform a variety of different tasks. File servers provide shared disk space for storing the files needed by work teams. They can also provide a common area from which team members launch desktop applications. Storing desktop application images on the file server, then launching and running them from individuals' personal computers can save several hundred megabytes of disk space per person, and can make software upgrades a lot easier. Print servers also enable a team to share a printer resource. Since server failure disrupts smooth departmental operation, it's important to know when they are down. System management software provides this alert.
Managing Client-Server Software
Client-server computing means that many within an organization can access a software package. While the software product represents a significant investment, its operational value to the organization is significantly more. While client-server computing means broader accessibility of mission-critical software, it also means that managing the health of these applications becomes critical - even more important than managing file and print servers. Managing the client-server environment is still a challenge for most organizations. As a result, many software vendors offer application management products to ensure performance of these packages.
Application Management and the Impact of eCommerce
While mail and accounting software applications represent huge productivity boosts for corporations, they generally perform mere supporting roles in the organization. After all, few corporations are in the business of distributing mail or keeping books to generate revenue.
Over the last few years, new classes of software applications emerged. These applications are significant revenue producers -- they have barged out of the back office into the storefront to enable organizations to take advantage of the Internet, to join the ranks of eCommerce providers and to generate new revenue models. No organization would field a new sales force without ensuring a strong sales management team. Yet, why do so many companies field eCommerce applications without application management?
eCommerce has made application management even more critical than managing print or file servers; even more important than managing supporting applications. When you base your revenue generators on the health of your applications, problems can spell the difference between failure, status quo or a competitive advantage.
Application Management Today
Microsoft COM+: The Foundation for Enterprise Application Development
Developing enterprise application is difficult, not because of the actual application that is shared, but because of the infrastructure that must be in place to support the sharing. You can easily hire programmers with the business knowledge to write the code to address your business problem. But there are simply too many infrastructure considerations to cost-effectively write, test and debug infrastructure code.
Microsoft's COM+ addresses these problems. COM+ and the other parts of Windows 2000 provide a comprehensive solution for addressing this need for infrastructure. Designed for the middle, business tier, COM+ allows your programmers to focus on developing software that solves your business problem.
Today, over three million developers use COM+ to provide enterprise applications for over 200 million Windows users. And in introducing this solution, a new requirement arises: the enterprise must manage the applications that support the activities of so many users. The need for application management becomes even more critical.
Application Management Options
Several application management software packages on the market today address these concerns. Most fall into one of two categories. Some (Debuggers) are designed for developers to find bugs in their code. Some (Response Time Tools) periodically "ping" an application and generate statistics about what was found. Only one solution (Xtremesoft AppMetrics for Transactions) provides a more comprehensive perspective. Table 1 compares the features of these application management solutions.
Table 1. Application Management Tools: A Features Comparison
Response Time Tools
AppMetrics for Transactions: A Cost-Effective Real-Time Alternative
Most revenue-generating applications are transaction-based. These mechanisms ensure data integrity in a distributed system, even if the communication or machine fails, and are the basis for business interactions. MTS hides many of the details required to manage transactions, and the new COM+ Transactional Services in Windows 2000 is an even more effective platform for deploying transaction-based systems. The term "transaction" is strictly defined in Microsoft MTS and COM+ environments and relates to how hard the developer wants the operating system to work to ensure transactional integrity, from a spectrum of "not at all" through "to the max." Xtremesoft AppMetrics for Transactions works end to end across that spectrum.
Developers are adopting the features found in MTS and COM+ because these features enable them to build applications that scale better. In fact, some suggest that "MTS" is misnamed since the significance of its scalability eclipses strong but secondary transactional services capabilities. As a result, even organizations not taking advantage of transactional services are adopting MTS and COM+ features because of their scalability. Xtremesoft solutions provide value even for these organizations: businesses that measure real-time, customer-generated transaction durations gain real-time knowledge of a transaction's success or failure. This real-time knowledge makes real-time diagnosis and resolution possible. For example, organizations that know, in real time, which transactions are aborting and why can solve the problem before shopping season ends.
AppMetrics for Transactions does not require source code modifications and does not impact development staff. This solution provides:
AppMetrics for Transactions ensures the health of mission-critical applications today, averting potential problems before they occur and enabling users to determine application capacity and budget for future technology investments.
Chris Smith, Director of Product Management, Xtremesoft
Prior to joining Xtremesoft, Chris spent more than 10 years at Lotus Development in a variety of positions, including group manager of the SmartSuite Strategic Integration Group and as senior product manager for 1-2-3 for Windows.
Chris holds a BA from Clark University and has completed coursework in a variety of computer- and management-related areas at Harvard and Northeastern Universities.