Wily Release Eases Java Application Management

Introscope upgrade measures browser-to-service response times and helps pinpoint application-performance problems.
Managing Java applications as services within a services-oriented architecture got a little easier this week with an expanded version of Wily Technology Inc.'s Introscope application-management toolset.

Called Management 360, the expanded offering includes Introscope 5.3, an upgraded version of Wily's core software that was also released this week. To the core product Wily has added tools and services designed to let IT managers spot application problems early, identify the cause, and alert the right technical staffer to correct it. Such a sequence helps a company meet service-level agreements with customers and partners.

Services-oriented architecture, also called enterprise software services, is frequently based on Java applications that draw data from various databases and legacy systems. That makes it difficult to pinpoint the root cause of any problems. A Java 2 Enterprise Edition application providing a service "is not a silo but a hub, dependent on many back-end systems," says Lewis Cirne, Wily's chief technology officer.

Earlier versions of Wily's Introscope monitored application performance from inside the Java application server, such as IBM's WebSphere or BEA Systems' WebLogic. Introscope 5.3 has added a Browser Response Time Adapter to measure the transaction time between a user request and a service response. While some monitoring systems use simulated transactions to measure response times, the Browser Response Time Adapter uses real transactions between a browser and a service to measure response times.

With the browser adaptor, Introscope watches what happens inside a running application, as well as monitoring an application from a user's point of view.

The Introscope upgrade also stores application-performance data, which can be viewed by IT staffers in customized dashboards and reports. Information presented to a Unix server administrator, for example, would look different from that presented to a database administrator, helping each specialist resolve his part of a problem.

Because service-oriented architectures are supported by IT staffers with specialties, new management tools are needed to avoid the "ugly bridge call" in which 25 people working on a service slowdown all say it isn't being caused by a malfunction in their areas of responsibility.

"Without being able to identify the cause [of a slowdown or failure], the core IT team appears to lack the technical skills to keep services running. Faith in IT's ability to maintain them plummets," Cirne says.

Introscope also peers deep into an IT system's infrastructure where a problem may exist outside of the application. Wily's Introscope, for example, is able to monitor specific adapters between the IBM WebSphere Application Server and outside resources and spot when one is impeding performance.

"If this light goes red on the dashboard, then the application can't reach the database and you're to call this database administrator," Cirne says, describing how the software works.

Wily's approach to monitoring applications includes measuring the activity of the Java Virtual Machine. Its method of measuring such activity was included in a Java standard, the Java Specification Request 163. The JSR 163 became part of the Java 2 Standard Edition release of Java in September.

Management 360 includes enterprise-assessment tools to evaluate an existing application portfolio. It monitors application performance and identifies risks and costs. The goal of the assessment is to prioritize applications based on how essential they are to the business and to identify their potential for problems.

For the first time, Wily is also offering application-management professional services, including best-practice consulting services.