Adaptive Management to Achieve Java Application Service Levels

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1 Adaptive Management to Achieve Java Application Service Levels Written by: Steve Stover Quest Software, Inc. Technical Brief

2 Copyright Quest Software, Inc All rights reserved. This guide contains proprietary information, which is protected by copyright. The software described in this guide is furnished under a software license or nondisclosure agreement. This software may be used or copied only in accordance with the terms of the applicable agreement. No part of this guide may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording for any purpose other than the purchaser's personal use without the written permission of Quest Software, Inc. WARRANTY The information contained in this document is subject to change without notice. Quest Software makes no warranty of any kind with respect to this information. QUEST SOFTWARE SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS THE IMPLIED WARRANTY OF THE MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. Quest Software shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, or other damage alleged in connection with the furnishing or use of this information. TRADEMARKS All trademarks and registered trademarks used in this guide are property of their respective owners. World Headquarters 5 Polaris Way Aliso Viejo, CA U.S. and Canada: Please refer to our Web site for regional and international office information. Updated October 2007

3 CONTENTS INTRODUCTION... 1 THE JAVA APPLICATION OPERATING ENVIRONMENT... 2 CHALLENGES IN MANAGING JAVA APPLICATIONS... 4 THE SOLUTION TO MEET JAVA APPLICATION SERVICE LEVELS... 5 PROACTIVE MONITORING TO IDENTIFY APPLICATION ISSUES BEFORE END USERS ARE AFFECTED... 7 CUSTOMIZABLE DASHBOARDS TO PROVIDE ROLE-BASED VIEWS... 9 ACCELERATING INCIDENT AND PROBLEM MANAGEMENT IN REAL TIME ISOLATING BOTTLENECKS AFFECTING APPLICATION PERFORMANCE...12 MINIMIZING DISRUPTIONS TO DEVELOPMENT...14 FLEXIBLE REPORTING TO KEEP STAKEHOLDERS INFORMED...15 ACHIEVING APPLICATION SERVICE LEVELS FROM END USER TO DATABASE CONCLUSION REFERENCES ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT QUEST SOFTWARE, INC CONTACTING QUEST SOFTWARE...20 CONTACTING QUEST SUPPORT...20

4 INTRODUCTION Java is the leading technology platform for building customer-facing, revenue-generating applications, as well as internal applications that are critical to business operations. The importance of the applications and services that leverage Java technology necessitate a management strategy. Business risks related to the applications and services that support business initiatives fall into two categories: complexity and continuous change. Applications and services implemented with Java have become more distributed, which increases complexity. This complexity is driven by the need to add new functionality for business initiatives. As the business drives adoption of these applications and services, which in turn increases user volumes and transactions, greater capacity and additional complexities are introduced. Business is in a perpetual state of change, and as IT aligns with the business, it must adapt to this change, at least as fast if not faster than the business. Many of the same forces that drive complexity also drive change. But in addition to new functionality and heavier user volumes, application consolidation and integration projects driven by cost savings or as a result of mergers and acquisitions compound the situation. In this environment of continuous change and increasing application complexity, IT organizations struggle to meet, much less exceed, application performance and availability service levels. To aid in the response and to help IT address Java application and services management challenges, this technical brief discusses how IT organizations can gain control of their business-critical Java applications. 1

5 THE JAVA APPLICATION OPERATING ENVIRONMENT Java applications and Web services operate in a layered environment with many dependencies for a single application instance, as depicted in Figure 1. Java applications run in an application server that runs in a Java Runtime Environment or Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Supporting them is an operating system and associated hardware. Figure 1. The Java application operating environment This basic layered application environment itself is already complex. Complicating it are today s distributed Java applications, which leverage technology such as Java Servlets, JavaServer Pages, Enterprise JavaBeans, Java Web Services, JMS, JNDI and JAAS. Applications also rely on other infrastructure, such as databases or third-party Web services. Even the most basic deployment scenario can involve Web servers, business logic or service tiers, as well as database servers as shown in Figure 2. 2

6 Figure 2. A distributed Java application infrastructure 3

7 CHALLENGES IN MANAGING JAVA APPLICATIONS IT organizations typically lack a strategy for managing their business-critical Java applications and Web services for performance degradations and availability issues. Many take a reactive stance, only implementing application management strategies once application failures occur or revenue is lost. The reasons for this stem from constrained IT budgets, the use of inadequate management solutions, or the reliance on the development organization to build management features into the application. A common practice that falls short is relying on a tool that primarily monitors the operating system or specific process performance. The shortcoming with this practice is that such a tool cannot detect performance problems that end users actually experience. Furthermore, application failures can occur in a Java application or Web service without affecting the host server or the operating system. The result is that end users call to complain about application availability and performance, instead of the monitoring systems discovering issues in advance. Research conducted by Forrester reveals that 50 percent of service disruptions are reported by end users and not by management solutions 1. Analyzing these disruptions often leads to finger pointing, wasted resources, and long resolution times which run counter to the goals of service management. Once an unhappy end user reports a problem, IT organizations then struggle with inefficient processes to resolve it. Finding the root cause of the problem can be very difficult because of the complexity of the application itself. Also, there are often many stakeholders involved and many components to the application infrastructure contribute to the root cause of application issues. Those responsible for application support often have only incomplete data -- written to a log file -- to assist in diagnosing the problem. This can lead to finger-pointing that produces few results and only delays resolution further. Developers often assist application support staff because they have the most in-depth knowledge of the application. However, this causes delays in current development projects that are intended to add business value. Development resources are too costly to use for production application support. Plus, the business might lose revenue-generating opportunities if development projects become derailed. 4

8 THE SOLUTION TO MEET JAVA APPLICATION SERVICE LEVELS Leading organizations are taking a proactive approach to address the complex challenges of managing distributed Java application environments. They are seeking the following capabilities to drive Java application service levels: Customizable dashboards to provide a role-based view of application health status and role-specific workflows for problem diagnosis Monitoring of Java applications to discover application issues (e.g., performance degradations and failures) Accelerated incident management through proactive alerting of application issues before end users report problems Method of informing the IT support staff member with the right expertise to diagnose and resolve application issues Powerful diagnostic features to accelerate the problem-management process, quickly drive root-cause analysis and reduce resolution time in production environments A way to leverage development resources for added value, versus involving them in diagnosing problems, debugging code, and supporting production Seamless integration with the IT operational and development environments to streamline workflow Deployment of a single solution to proactively address custom application and Web service performance and availability issues across the application infrastructure, from the end user to the database Foglight proactively monitors Java applications and Web services for performance and availability issues to discover issues before end users call the service desk. The problem management process is accelerated by Foglight s collection of real-time diagnostic data, which empowers the appropriate IT expert to quickly resolve application problems. Additionally, the diagnostic capabilities of Foglight help to minimize the problem resolution time and the mean time to repair (MTTR) to ensure application availability. And when developers are needed for support, they have immediate insight into the root cause of a problem to reduce -- if not eliminate -- the need to reproduce it in a pre-production environment. This capability also reduces disruption to production environments when developers write debugging code that is deployed to the live application. 5

9 Figure 3. Foglight is the foundation of Quest s Application and Services Management solution 6

10 PROACTIVE MONITORING TO IDENTIFY APPLICATION ISSUES BEFORE END USERS ARE AFFECTED Foglight provides proactive monitoring for performance degradations and exceptions that can adversely affect the end-user experience. Collecting these events and communicating them to the appropriate IT staff is critical to effectively managing applications. Many levels of detail are available to view application health, and overall system health can be monitored from the server domain in which the application is deployed. Alerts specifically for a defined service can be viewed from the service dashboard, shown in Figure 4. From this dashboard, you can drill down into the components of the service requests to determine which one has generated the alert. Figure 4. The Foglight service dashboard 7

11 The dashboard allows you to drill down even deeper to view the status of the particular application, such as an individual EJB or web component, as shown in Figure 4. You can create notification rules to automatically inform the appropriate IT staff of potential performance degradations and application failures. The notification types that can be created are SNMP traps and s. Foglight can also be enhanced to create custom notifications. 8

12 CUSTOMIZABLE DASHBOARDS TO PROVIDE ROLE-BASED VIEWS With Foglight, you can create role-based views of the managed environment. Administrators can use a targeted view to include specific details of items of interest, while architects can opt for a more holistic view. Foglight enables this flexibility so you can create views to align application and services performance with specific business goals, while measuring operating levels against service level agreements (SLAs) that support them. Figure 5. A user portlet Medical Record Application Performance created by dragand-drop functionality Figure 5 shows three user-specific portlets already selected on the left showing alarm counts over time, health status of applications and request metrics for pages of the applications. There is a rich set of out-of-the-box portlets shown in the right-hand portion of the screen. You may also define your own views via drag-and-drop functionality. 9

13 You can customize the view to change the chart type, or add values for averages, maximums, thresholds and more. When the changes are applied, Foglight will save the customized view for future use. The view will be available and updated with the latest information the next time you log in. 10

14 ACCELERATING INCIDENT AND PROBLEM MANAGEMENT IN REAL TIME When it comes to ensuring customer satisfaction and maintaining a solid production environment, organizations often face three main obstacles: The time spent resolving issues is too long, which can lead to user abandonment or dissatisfaction Finding the root cause of complex or repeated problems is timeconsuming and difficult, which exposes the production environment to continual problems The inability to control changes in production adds unnecessary risk and can make compliance difficult to achieve Foglight spans the lifecycle from production to development, so you can prevent incidents in the environment and respond quickly and effectively to those that do arise. This requires effective communication among the key players from both the production and development organizations. Developers and architects are often under pressure to create more applications and better services. Therefore, Quest provides tuning tools for applications and databases that can be used when developing and unittesting new code or SQL. This helps these groups optimize performance, scalability and resource usage. When applications are handed over for QA testing, they undergo performance and scalability testing, in addition to functional testing. Quest s solutions can be used to gather deeper, more targeted performance and scalability information on those tests in a way that is completely transparent to the QA workflow and processes that are already in place. This includes the ability to see run-to-run performance and resource-demand changes granularly or line-level which can highlight the areas of an application or service that are improving with each milestone and those that are slipping behind. Even with the most proactive efforts and the most careful development and testing, some problems will still appear in production. So to provide outstanding customer-facing services, it s essential that you can efficiently respond to incidents and diagnose the root causes of repeated problems. Now that we have explored the development organization s role, let s look more closely at production support and how those responsible for this function can respond to these challenges with Quest s Foglight solution. 11

15 Isolating Bottlenecks Affecting Application Performance Because today s applications are highly distributed, it can be difficult to identify and isolate performance issues in a particular component of the application infrastructure. The Java requests page of Foglight in Figure 6 shows details on individual requests. From here, you can drill down into data about a particular request that is performing slowly to identify the bottleneck in the transaction. Figure 6. Request dashboard A unique feature of Foglight is its ability to show you trace information for a single transaction. You can view the execution path for a single request, not just all requests, in aggregate. Every method call of requests that executes across multiple servers using Web Service or RMI calls is collected. Single traces allow you to view detailed, method- and SQL-level data directly from production. And because they are single traces, they have a minimal impact on system overhead. In Figure 7 (below), a performance bottleneck has been isolated to show the method that took the longest time to execute in a problematic request. 12

16 Figure 7. The Foglight Java management request details view In the previous case, the problem was in the Java code. However, Foglight s single trace feature also helps manage performance issues related to SQL statements that are executed as part of the request, as well. Figure 8 shows the SQL view, which displays SQL statements and the variables associated with specific SQL calls. This feature is unique to Foglight and allows you to see the details of a SQL call that might be running slowly, but only periodically. A common situation might be a full table scan, where an inefficient SQL call is slowing down requests only when it is executed. Foglight uncovers this information to help solve even the most isolated, infrequent or difficult SQL problems. 13

17 Figure 8. A Java request details view with SQL variables Minimizing Disruptions to Development Minimizing application downtime and time-to-repair is critical to meeting service goals. Discovering these incidents in real time, and collecting the appropriate diagnostic data to allow for efficient problem resolution, is essential for minimizing disruptions to development. The monitoring and diagnostic capabilities of Foglight provide root-cause information to the application support team. This can greatly decrease the overall time to repair because it reduces, if not eliminates, the need to reproduce the issue in a pre-production environment for diagnosis. In addition, there are no additional requirements on development for collecting this information, such as creating a debug build of the application or additional instrumentation of the application code. Thus, these capabilities reduce application support activities of developers keeping them focused on current projects to deliver applications that add value to the business. 14

18 Flexible Reporting to Keep Stakeholders Informed Reporting is a key requirement for proactive problem management and to help prevent performance and availability issues. Foglight has many reporting options you can leverage to learn about trends in application performance and availability events. Identifying application hot spots facilitates effective communication between IT operations staff and the development team to address particularly problematic areas of an application. The development team can devote additional resources to ensure that these hot spots are addressed to prevent application problems. Figure 9. A custom dashboard view for reporting SLA information 15

19 ACHIEVING APPLICATION SERVICE LEVELS FROM END USER TO DATABASE IT organizations often lack a holistic view of their application environment. This presents challenges when trying to identify the root cause of performance and availability issues across the application infrastructure, from the end-user to the database. Without an end-to-end view, it s difficult to pinpoint where problems really exists whether they re in the network, the application server, the database or the application code itself. Some of the major challenges IT organizations face are: IT teams that work in silos, claiming all is well even when users report problems; IT teams that can t identify the impact of planned and unplanned changes on an IT environment or essential business services Poor end-user satisfaction due to performance and availability issues The root of these challenges stems from the way the various tiers and domains are monitored. Most of the time, this is done through silo-based management, an approach that prevents IT teams from getting a cohesive, end-to-end view of the application s performance. The Quest Foglight solution provides such a view from the end user to the database. It measures the end-user experience, which can act as a leading indicator of a problem. The value this offers is that the IT team can proactively look into a problem before it grows in severity. Foglight provides: Correlated data that gives a single view of the true issues to speed inter-group resolution Service dependency mapping that shows linkages between users, services and infrastructure to allow for planning or prioritization Individual end-user traces to show the problems in context and to enable targeted resolution Finally, Foglight provides coverage across heterogeneous application environments and platforms. Typically, silo monitoring exists because of heterogeneity in an application environment. With Quest s heterogeneous support, organizations can gain a holistic and consolidated view across domains. 16

20 CONCLUSION Java applications are critical to the success of many businesses. Thus, protecting the business and ensuring its growth requires an effective solution to manage Java applications. Constant change and increasing application complexity compound the need for effective management solutions. The ability to efficiently and accurately discover, diagnose and resolve application performance and availability issues mitigates the risk to the business and minimizes the impact of poorly performing applications. Foglight can help you deliver on application service levels with proactive monitoring capabilities. It also allows you to optimize the application support process by providing detailed diagnostic information in real-time. Additionally, Foglight informs the IT organization of events and trends in application performance issues. To learn more about Foglight, please visit 17

21 REFERENCES 1. Forrester Research, Inc., Managing IT as a Service: A Federated Model, December

22 ABOUT THE AUTHOR Steve Stover is a Group Product Manager for Application Management Solutions for Quest Software. Steve oversees the product strategy, functionality and go-to-market activities of the company s application and services management solutions, which include Foglight. Steve has more than 12 years of experience in the IT service management and CRM markets. He has held development, architecture, and product management positions, as well as served as a CTO for both Quest and CRM vendor YellowBrick Solutions, Inc. (acquired by ARGI, Inc.). He has helped numerous customers with performance analysis and optimization for their application environments and has given many presentations on architecting high-performance applications. 19

23 ABOUT QUEST SOFTWARE, INC. Quest Software, Inc. delivers innovative products that help organizations get more performance and productivity from their applications, databases and Windows infrastructure. Through a deep expertise in IT operations and a continued focus on what works best, Quest helps more than 50,000 customers worldwide meet higher expectations for enterprise IT. Quest s Windows Management solutions simplify, automate and secure Active Directory, Exchange and Windows, as well as integrate Unix and Linux into the managed environment. Quest Software can be found in offices around the globe and at Contacting Quest Software Phone: Mail: Web site: (United States and Canada) Quest Software, Inc. World Headquarters 5 Polaris Way Aliso Viejo, CA USA Please refer to our Web site for regional and international office information. Contacting Quest Support Quest Support is available to customers who have a trial version of a Quest product or who have purchased a commercial version and have a valid maintenance contract. Quest Support provides around-the-clock coverage with SupportLink, our self-service web site. Visit SupportLink at From SupportLink, you can do the following: Quickly find thousands of solutions (Quest knowledgebase articles/documents). Download patches and upgrades. Seek help from a support engineer. Log and update your case, and check its status. View the Global Support Guide for a detailed explanation of support programs, online services, contact information, and policy and procedures. The guide is available at: Support Guide.pdf 20

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