Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Weblogic

Weblogic: Article

The Evolution Continues

The Evolution Continues

As developers rapidly embraced the use of component-based architectures, the role of application servers in production has expanded from hosting somewhat simple, servlet-based applications to exploiting Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) and Java messaging services (JMS) to build robust eBusiness applications.

The proliferation of new, online business applications has sparked technology innovations in what was once a completely separate industry - performance management solutions. In the past 12-18 months, two previously unrelated areas, development and IT operations, have been forced to work together with new monitoring and management products that can pinpoint performance issues down to an individual Java method. These production-oriented management products take advantage of technologies such as management APIs, instrumentation, and Java profiling, which have been incorporated with more traditional management architectures such as server-side agents. Regardless of the granularity that these tools offer, the management of these increasingly complex n-tier infrastructures is still applied in a disparate, stovepipe approach, with multiple departments owning the operations responsible for various layers. This often results in reactive finger-pointing and departmental blame when performance issues arise.

Beyond App Server Management
In less than two years, a relatively new market niche (performance management of J2EE application servers) has become saturated by a variety of vendors. Each solution is slightly different, but all identify essentially the same data - hundreds of statistics for various application servers and their components. The opportunity now exists for management software vendors to take the next step and provide both a view into, and management of, the actual application topology. This visibility will extend beyond the application server and address management of the complete business process infrastructure with monitoring of transaction dependencies and the paths available to execute a transaction.

New management solutions are leading the evolution from traditional systems management to what AMR Research refers to as Business Services Management. "Many different pieces of technology are assembled to deliver a business service, including Web servers, application servers, and database servers. Monitoring and managing all of this technology in the context of the business processes it supports is the cornerstone of Business Services Management."

While yesterday's tools provide massive amounts of data for the various layers, often resulting in too much information, - known as a "data glut" - IT still struggles to gain a view of the paths each transaction could potentially take throughout this complex architecture. At the same time, business owners are looking to IT for details on the transaction ecosystem to help measure the success or failures of their online initiatives.

Moreover, as more and more companies look to maximize their application server infrastructures by launching new, online business initiatives, IT lacks visibility into the disconnected or distributed applications that many transactions depend upon to execute. There is still a need to track the real-time transaction dependencies to understand what each component requires to execute and how those components behave.

Market research firm Hurwitz Group underscores this growing management requirement, "Hurwitz Group believes that application management folks will have to borrow some network management concepts (such as topology mapping and route tracing) to address this problem. We are looking for a solution that can create a software topology - a map of the various software components in the clustered production environment that can make up transactions. The solution should also be able to trace the particular route that a transaction is taking across the software topology. Only then can administrators match individual transactions with the specific components that were used - the uncertainty disappears and problem diagnosis can begin."

Mapping the Application Logic
Today, new technologies are being introduced to monitor the real-time J2EE application logic. Mapping the individual business processes, or "Transaction Path Mapping," is the next step in Web application management solutions. Correlating component-level performance data with the system, database, application, and business-related metrics allows IT operations to measure the true performance of an e-business system and translate it into relevant, business-related information. This look into the application logic can ultimately bring management functionality more in line with the business and online revenue goals of the organization.

While load balancing, firewalls, and clustering are essential to the scalability and performance of a Web application, they also add complexities that pose new IT obstacles. Transaction Path Mapping identifies the components required to execute an application and creates a topology view of the potential paths available for transactions to take. The cross-functional view incorporates each element or layer that was previously monitored in its own "stovepipe" view, enabling IT to drill down to the exact source of the problem causing a transaction failure.

By correlating the various data points monitored, the overall health of a transaction path can be displayed, allowing for transactions to be routed to a healthier path, thereby maintaining or increasing transaction success rates. Additionally, the transaction map can help isolate the location of a transaction failure within an infrastructure. More importantly, this level of monitoring enables IT operations to communicate to both development and line-of-business managers the detail they require.

New Concept, Different Approaches
Similar to the various component-monitoring solutions, vendors are developing different approaches to transaction mapping. One popular method requires a manual mapping process to outline an application diagram. Typically, this takes advantage of the developer's application architecture and requires IT to select the dependencies of each transaction. This methodology is merely a representation of the infrastructure. It fails to monitor the real-time application logic and requires constant maintenance to the dependency map as new components are added or deleted. Other tools will require C or C++ development to actually hard-code the mapping into a model, sacrificing flexibility and requiring resources that are typically outside of IT. While this method may provide an accurate blueprint of the original, intended architecture, the continual changes required to update the mapping of evolving component-based applications may be costly.

Another approach to identifying transaction paths is the use of transaction labels or tags. This method involves the monitoring solution labeling a transaction and tracking the actual path it takes through all layers of the infrastructure. It is ideally suited for preproduction environments and offers detailed component information, down to individual SQL statements and method calls, but requires a significant amount of JVM and byte-code instrumentation. Combined with the added overhead from the label applied to each transaction, it can have a significant adverse effect on performance in a production environment.

The most effective approach to transaction mapping will likely be a combination of a monitoring agent for each system, with the ability to monitor the entire Web stack (Web server, application server, and database) and some form of instrumentation (controlled by IT) or API communication for component-level statistics. By leveraging a "bottom-up" approach with real-time data, not only can IT establish a live view of each transaction path, but the view can be dynamic, to ensure an accurate representation of the infrastructure. Any changes to the topology can be tracked without the need for development time or resources.

Beginning with a transaction entry point at the presentation layer, typically a Web page serving up a servlet or active server page, IT can auto-discover each servlet, EJB, or COM+ object. EJB transactional methods, JDBC connection; or other resource pools that make up the business logic. This information can then be used to dynamically map the real-time flow of each path and represent it visually in a portal-style view.

This methodology offers maximum visibility and detail for data correlation while avoiding costly overhead on production systems. It also fits in with the flexibility required to support rapidly evolving Web architectures, which may add, delete, or modify production-side applications and components on a regular basis. More importantly, this approach allows for the mapping solution to invoke various actions automatically, based on defined thresholds. These can be corrective measures to address poor performance, or even quality-of-service actions to prioritize resources based on a particular transaction trait (i.e., a preferred customer or large transaction value).

With IT operations and development forced to collaborate when addressing Web application performance issues, products that address the needs of both groups are more apt to be embraced. Because these solutions can display more detailed performance information in a manner that is familiar to IT, the need to involve development in less complex issues is reduced. The result is significantly increased productivity from both operations and development.

As e-business applications become the foundation for delivering business services online, the ability to measure, monitor, and proactively manage all aspects of the service becomes increasingly important. In fact, the introduction of reliable transaction management technologies will likely help drive the adoption of new online initiatives. This new approach to Web application performance management will set the stage for management technology innovations in the near future.


  • Gaughan, Dennis (March 11, 2002). "Business Services Management: Managing an ECM Infrastructure."
  • Hurwitz TrendWatch, March 15, 2002. Web Application's Uncertainty Principle.
  • More Stories By Frank Moreno

    Frank Moreno is the product marketing manager for Dirig Software, a leading developer of award-winning enterprise performance management solutions. Frank has over 10 years of experience in product marketing, product management, and strategic alliances in the networking and software industries, and has written multiple articles on e-Business performance management.

    Comments (0)

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

    @ThingsExpo Stories
    Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
    The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
    "Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
    A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
    Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
    Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
    Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
    With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
    To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
    "Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
    Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
    No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
    Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
    22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
    22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
    DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits,...