Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Application Monitoring

ibelieveinsantaclaus21The holiday season is sneaking up on us, and we take great pleasure in answering at once this communication below (from Virginia):

– Dear Editor: I am a newbie to monitoring critical business applications.
– Some of my little friends say there is no way I can monitor everything automatically and have all my work done for me.
– Papa says: If you see it in someone’s blog it must be so.
– Please tell me the truth: is there a Monitoring Utopia ?

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They are skeptical and they won’t believe unless they can see it working in a really big system. They think it cannot be unless they can imagine it in their little minds.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, … er, I mean a Monitoring Utopia. It exists as certainly as open source and free software, and you know they abound and give your life the highest beauty and joy. How dreary it would be if there were no Monitoring Utopia … as dreary as it would be if there were no Application Support people like you. There would be no applications that stay running, no responsive UIs, no instant gratification to make tolerable the shopping experience.

Not believe in Monitoring Utopia! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire industry analysts to study every vendor, but what would it prove if they did not find a single one that can really do everything ? Nobody has actually seen a Monitoring Utopia but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. You might tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world and not even the strongest men backed by the greatest venture capitalists have found this utopia yet.

Control-C, beep …

Virginia, it’s time to get real. This is not the New York Sun and it is not 1897. You are all grown up now. That lemonade stand you ran when you were 8 is now a great big on-line store that sells a billion dollars of stuff every year. And seriously, your job is at stake here.

It is tempting to believe that there is some product out there that will monitor everything automagically and do all your work for you. Many up-and-coming “cool” vendors weave an amazing story about their products and make it sound like that dream has finally become reality. According to some of them, there is “nothing left for you to do.”

Anyone who has been in a position of supporting complex, often custom, highly distributed, high-value, business-critical applications knows how challenging it can be to monitor them effectively. Infrastructure, some virtual and some not, middleware from multiple vendors, messaging systems, app servers, data grids, JVMs, web services, and so on, all contribute in complex ways to making these large scale systems function.

Yes, some components and relationships might be auto-discovered. Some Java agents might be installed to collect detailed transaction information or method call counts. It might be possible to auto-configure alert thresholds for some important monitoring metrics. But I have yet to see that miracle product that can do all these things at the same time and tie the whole thing together into a big picture and do it all automatically.

SL Corporation’s RTView product isn’t going to do that for you either. What it can do is provide a highly flexible platform that can support the monitoring of complex applications in the most efficient manner possible with a combination of out-of-the-box solution packages and powerful customization features.

RTView can combine auto-discovered lists of components with the custom tweaks and exceptions that are always necessary. It supports deep-dive collection and analysis of middleware monitoring data where there are gaps in vendor-provided solutions, importation of data from other tools that may already be installed in the environment, and offers unsurpassed alert filtering capabilities that allow you to configure the solution in ways that really work for your users.

SL Corporation has been working on perfecting its products for a long time, and we’ve created a solution that is flexible, malleable, and adaptable to monitoring the many variations of Java-centric middleware-based custom applications … without promising you a Monitoring Utopia. RTView isn’t going to do ALL your work for you … just a very big chunk of it.

For more information on this subject, you could review any of several webinars I presented recently, one on the End-To-End Monitoring of Heterogeneous Applications where some of these concepts are discussed in more detail. See the SL Web Site for more details.