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J2EE Journal: Article

Product Review — Wily Introscope for Microsoft .NET

Ending the blame game

It's 8:15 in the morning, and as you walk by the main conference room you overhear an animated exchange between the leaders of your IT organization including the directors of application development, production support, testing, and QA. Besides your applications team, you also see your company operations manager, the network manager, the lead analyst for the database team, and other assorted technical leads. One of your mission-critical composite applications is down and the finger-pointing is slowly escalating.

How could this situation have been avoided?

I'll tell you how. In today's enterprise environments, composite applications create dependencies between multiple technologies...and their respective stakeholders. Heterogeneity is now the norm, and it can have unintended consequences for large enterprises.

Imagine in the example above that you're an enterprise support lead, and one of your business unit directors purchased a .NET-based marketing analytics product, despite the fact that your company is primarily a J2EE shop. Your team used Services Oriented Architecture (SOA)-enabled Web Services to integrate production J2EE application data into the .NET analytics tool for consolidated reporting to IT and business managers.

Your most senior (and most expensive) IT leads are trying to get to the bottom of an application problem that's causing your business to lose money due to failing customer transactions. Even though the point solutions that manage performance data for everyone's individual applications are "all green," the compound application they enable isn't working end-to-end. Business leaders are complaining about loss of revenue, and the situation is becoming worse with every passing minute. How did the complexity of your enterprise environment get out of hand? How could this costly downtime been avoided?

Overview of CA Wily Introscope for .NET
Wily Technology is known for pioneering and leading the market for tools to manage production J2EE applications. Its Introscope solution features patented agent technology that runs inside nearly any J2EE application servers (WebLogic, WebSphere, etc.), and a system for collecting information and automatically generating real-time alerts that let IT leaders intercept performance problems before they compromise business performance.

The new Wily Introscope for .NET solution significantly expands Wily's reach and value to IT organizations by adding an integrated .NET agent to Introscope that consolidates both J2EE and .NET application management metrics in a single product. Introscope also monitors the performance of back-end systems such as databases and middleware, so the addition of .NET makes it one of the most comprehensive management solutions available today. This consolidated view of performance management that Introscope for .NET enables will be a boon to companies because it streamlines the process of problem resolution.

A robust production-level application performance monitoring solution, Wily Introscope is capable of monitoring end-to-end transactions in real-time as they cross complex, heterogeneous enterprise applications. The solution monitors performance of any production server 24 x 7 that supports a portion of a given target application, unlike other tools such as BMC AppSight that can only be used after a problem has happened with the odd hope that the same problem reoccurs.

Key Features of Introscope for .NET
Wily Introscope for .NET is the first product that brings comprehensive production application management and root-cause problem analysis to the world of .NET. With customizable alerts and detailed reporting, organizations can now elect to end the 'blame game' illustrated in the beginning of this article and replace it with an informed conversation between the appropriate IT stakeholders. CA's new Wily Introscope for .NET delivers the following features and benefits to people tasked with the management of mission-critical applications:

Comprehensive visibility - Heterogeneity is a difficult and real management challenge. Introscope collects performance data from today's most popular and important applications including J2EE, .NET, middleware, and connected back-end systems and presents the data in a "single pane of glass."
Real-transaction monitoring - Besides collecting Permon data, Introscope uses a Microsoft standard interface and Wily's patented instrumentation technology to collect advanced availability and performance data from .NET applications.
Automatic application discovery - Introscope for .NET adds intelligent new features including the ability to automatically identify, instrument, and assess the normal performance of .NET and J2EE applications and connected back-end systems - something that's sure to save operations managers a ton of time.
Low overhead - If you're going to use it in production all the time, it has to be rock solid, and not create the problem you're trying to solve. Introscope has a very light footprint in terms of both memory and CPU.
Automated alerts - There are lots of products that can monitor and alert. Since Introscope collects its own data at the applications level, alerts based on that data are really useful.
Customizable reporting - Transaction performance data is stored in Introscope's SmartStor database to generate SLA reports that are based on true application-level metrics like response time and applications availability. (Figure 1)

Replaying Our Scenario with Introscope for .NET Installed
It's 8:15 in the morning, and as you walk by the main conference room you notice it's empty. You pass by the director of production support and the database team lead in the hall who want to give you a heads-up on problem with the new analytics application - but it's already been fixed. (Figure 2)

It turns out that the director of production support got an automated alert in the AM when response times for the application exceeded one second. He went to the Operations Overview of Introscope to get a top-down look at performance and could immediately see that database performance was below normal levels. He drilled into the Database Detail view and contacted the database manager at his office who did the same.

Noting that the Backend Summary light was yellow, his next step was to go look at some back-end details for the database server. Drilling down in Introscope, the database team lead immediately noticed that the number of Database Connections in use had spiked, and the number of available Database Connections had dropped to zero.

Introscope let the team find and inspect the transactions that were causing the slowdown, and identify the module that contains those transactions. It turned out that the module in question was allocating database connections and not releasing them when it was done with its transaction, which over time consumed the available pool of database connections. Now that the applications support team knows there's an issue with how the application is using database connections, they can engage their development team confident they know the root-cause of the problem. (Figure 3)

What I Really Like About Introscope for .NET
Beyond deep functionality, there are two really important solution-wide benefits to this product. The first is that the .NET product leverages all of the development and engineering work Wily invested over the years as it led the market for J2EE management. So, the .NET product literally stands on the shoulders of the J2EE product and is very stable and feature-rich as a result.

The second is that the .NET product shares the same database, alerting system, and console as the J2EE product. With Service Oriented Architecture applications growing in popularity, it's becoming increasingly the case that one SOA-based applications system will have some pieces written in Java to a J2EE applications server and some other pieces written to .NET. Absent this new Wily product, having one application that uses both Java and .NET adds another dimension to the blame game depicted at the beginning of this review.

Wily is well known for leading the market in tools for J2EE applications management. J2EE applications tend to be large, complex, business-critical, and have their business logic centralized into relatively few J2EE applications servers. So, the base price of $9,450 per CPU in the J2EE applications server is reasonable given the benefits that Wily provides in the J2EE world.

If you have J2EE applications that you're already managing with Wily, and you're adding some .NET components or services to these applications, buying more Wily licenses at this price is a reasonable way to manage what will become an extremely complex compound application. However, Introscope may be overkill for shops that are putting their first departmental or internal .NET application together that needs to work, but isn't as business-critical as the typical J2EE application.

If your enterprise environment contains both J2EE- and .NET-based applications, Introscope for .NET from CA Wily can provide you with a single console that delivers visibility into both platforms and connected back-end systems for a truly comprehensive view of application performance. If you're managing a composite application that contains both Java and .NET components then this product could be of even greater benefit to your organization.

More Stories By Bernd Harzog

Bernd Harzog is the CEO and founder of OpsDataStore, the company delivering the first real-time big data platform for data-driven IT operations. Prior to founding OpsDataStore, Bernd was CEO and founder of APM Experts, CEO of RTO Software, VP of Products at Netuitive, and Research Director for the Gartner Group.

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