Application Monitoring Saves The Day 2

Wily Technology's Introscope alerted Northern Trust Corp. to a developers' error that could have slowed the following day's reporting.
Software developers at Northern Trust Corp. earlier this year made a change in one of the bank's IBM DB2 database systems that resulted in a performance slowdown that, if left unattended, could have interrupted the bank's ability to produce a handful of reports.

The developers edited a stored procedure--a specialized SQL query routine that's used so often that it's stored inside the database--but in doing so they didn't correctly use the database table index. Consequently, the following night's batch-processing performance slipped as calls for the stored procedure piled up.

The bank's customers, such as institutional investors and asset managers, rely on reporting from that application and could have come to work the next day and found those reports missing, says Jason Bonds, senior technical architect at Northern Trust's operations and worldwide technology group. "We might have started getting calls to the help desk," he says.

Instead, the slowdown was noticed by Wily Technology's Introscope application-monitoring system, installed on eight BEA Systems Inc. WebLogic application servers at the bank. The level of output from the application querying the DB2 system had dropped below an acceptable threshold, and night operators were notified by Introscope of that development. They in turn awoke a database administrator who was on call. He found the poor performing stored procedure and re-indexed it, which started the system humming again. Trouble averted.

It's an example of why Northern Trust, which already monitors its systems with BMC Software Inc.'s Patrol system-management monitor and Mercury Interactive Corp.'s Topaz online application monitor, also uses Wily's Introscope. Patrol would tell the night operators that the DB2 database server and the application server were running, but it wouldn't necessarily say a slowdown was occurring in an application.

Topaz monitors an online application from a user's response time point of view, but it doesn't look inside batch processes, and it wouldn't be able to sound an alert that a report expected by customers in the morning wasn't likely to be there, Bonds says.

"We need all three," Bonds says. He adds, however, that "it was Wily that warned us of a slowdown."

Wily's Introscope was recently upgraded to version 5.0, and Bonds says the reach of its monitoring capabilities is much improved. It was a 5.0 predecessor, Introscope 4.2.1, that actually spotted the slowdown. The upgraded version also would have flagged it, he says.

One thing that saves Northern Trust time and money is Introscope's ability "to probe the Java Virtual Machine," or Java runtime environment at distributed computing machines, rather than monitoring only the host level. Monitoring a distributed computing JVM yields statistics on how well a SQL query is running for a remote site without forcing a change in the core database driver to produce the needed statistics. A driver change costs Northern IT extensive staff time as it's tested against the bank's infrastructure systems to avoid unintended incompatibilities and failures, Bonds says.

Introscope now works with the open-source JBoss application server as well as BEA's WebLogic, IBM's WebSphere, Sun Microsystems' Java Enterprise System, and Oracle Application Server.

Wily recently unveiled seven PowerPacks that extend Introscope's monitoring to the specific adapters and connectors of the IBM WebSphere Business Integration suite. Introscope now can monitor the performance of the WebSphere Business Integration adapters for, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and Siebel Systems enterprise applications. The PowerPacks also cover JDBC database connectors, JText text fields in a Java user interface, and HTTP communications. The PowerPacks start at $500 each per CPU. Introscope starts at $6,250 per CPU.