Sponsored By

APM Rolling Review: ProactiveNet

BMC's early-warning system gives IT a fighting chance to head off problems that threaten critical applications.

Michael Biddick

January 17, 2008

4 Min Read

In June, BMC Software acquired ProactiveNet, and we tested the product for our application performance management Rolling Review. ProactiveNet isn't usually considered a player in the APM market, as it's focused on service-level agreements. However, ProactiveNet will notify IT of impending problems it finds by applying algorithms to stored data. The app shines as an intelligent correlation tool, unlike other products tested that focus on data gathering.

If you require collection of network application traffic or synthetic transactions, ProactiveNet is not for you. However, it does offer agents that can be deployed to assemble information, or you may use its adapters to pull data from CA, BMC Performance Manager, or NetIQ. Agents are available for application components that range from WebLogic and WebSphere to infrastructure components such as Oracle, Unix, AIX, IIS, Apache, and dozens of others.

THE UPSHOT

CLAIM:  ProactiveNet offers the ability to administer and view the overall health of your application environment and identify performance problems within business-critical apps before they occur, all from a centralized console. Capturing technical experience and domain knowledge within a single location removes geography, distance, and time zones from the list of IT operations obstacles.

CONTEXT:  Unlike other products tested that offer a range of application performance management data collection and analysis components, BMC ProactiveNet's true value is in its ability to correlate data and provide SLA views. While ProactiveNet does include monitoring agents and competes with other vendors in this review, it can also hold its own with DigitalFuel, Indicative, Integrein, Oblicore, and OpTier, companies delivering end-to-end service visibility, as well as challenging Hewlett-Packard on business service management.

CREDIBILITY:  ProactiveNet is strong in intelligent correlation of events, invaluable for organizations with SLAs. Agents are effective at pulling extensive metrics from applications and application infrastructure components. The lack of discovery and need to manually group devices into service views, however, may give some organizations pause.

DATA ENTRY

ProactiveNet doesn't autodiscover your environment; you'll need to use its agents or another enterprise management adapter to get data into the system. The downside is that if a monitor doesn't exist for your application, you'll have to create a custom monitor that intensively queries the target server for available metrics. Metrics to be monitored must be selected and assigned names. To help speed the process, ProactiveNet provides template functionality for Oracle, WebSphere, WebLogic, and custom monitors, creation of which requires some design and metric definition.

Once setup is done, you then need to establish relationships within devices or device classes. Like devices, relationships must be defined--they're not discovered. Once you specify and group underlying infrastructure components that comprise application services, relationships will determine which alarms will be suppressed and which paths root cause analysis will follow.

The ability to create service groupings is powerful, but isn't as flexible as we'd like. For example, the device description field is populated with the location property. All devices with the same description field are grouped under that location property name. Views can't easily combine multiple properties, which would be useful for complex service reporting. Reports also can't be grouped by property; we couldn't group our devices by location, customer name, and criticality.

Once SLAs are configured and relationships established, capacity trend reports can be customized to predict SLA violations. We really like this ability--it's nice to get early warning so you actually have a chance to forestall a problem. Both ProactiveNet server and its agents have native failover capabilities, critical for larger enterprises. ProactiveNet also can forward SNMP traps.

In our environment, ProactiveNet agents were able to detect performance problems within our application that were related to excessive CPU utilization. Agents reported this information back to the console, and we were alerted that our SLA had been violated. These real-time warnings will help prevent critical outages.

ProactiveNet sends alerts by pager or e-mail for problem areas that may impact application performance or violate SLAs. If you don't want to be woken up, you can create automatic triggers with corrective actions for alarms that meet specific criteria. When response time for an application slows, ProactiveNet will seek to determine the cause of the problem. Even better, it will score and group events in real time to identify infrastructure components responsible for application performance degradation.

These relationships can be visualized across application infrastructure components, displaying as many as six attributes in a single graph. These graphs help identify trend variations, abnormalities, and other complex relationships, resulting in faster identification and resolution of performance issues.

About the Author(s)

Michael Biddick

CEO, Fusion PPT

As CEO of Fusion PPT, Michael Biddick is responsible for overall quality and innovation. Over the past 15 years, Michael has worked with hundreds of government and international commercial organizations, leveraging his unique blend of deep technology experience coupled with business and information management acumen to help clients reduce costs, increase transparency and speed efficient decision making while maintaining quality. Prior to joining Fusion PPT, Michael spent 10 years with a boutique-consulting firm and Booz Allen Hamilton, developing enterprise management solutions. He previously served on the academic staff of the University of Wisconsin Law School as the Director of Information Technology. Michael earned a Master's of Science from Johns Hopkins University and a dual Bachelor's degree in Political Science and History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Michael is also a contributing editor at InformationWeek Magazine and Network Computing Magazine and has published over 50 recent articles on Cloud Computing, Federal CIO Strategy, PMOs and Application Performance Optimization. He holds multiple vendor technical certifications and is a certified ITIL v3 Expert.

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like


More Insights