BCI Improves Tools, GUIs for App Management

Implementation of Java's Byte Code Instrumentation (BCI) is setting the stage to enable Java/J2EE architects and developers play a bigger role in end-to-end apps management, according to execs at Wily Technologies -- creators of the BCI. See how BCI is empowering a new array of apps management tools, including data capture, apps diagnostics, code repair and even console viewing.

Tags: Apps, Management, Cirne, Enterprise, Introscope, Java, Technologies,

As Java/J2EE becomes a key hub for integrating and managing enterprise-wide apps and data, Java/J2EE devs have a unique opportunity to play a big role in the about-to-boom career sector -- end-to-end applications management.

So say execs at Wily Technologies, and they've talked to 100s of enterprise customers that share their view.

In response to growing customer requests, Wily is rolling out a new array of powerful next-gen apps management technologies (including data capture, apps diagostics, repair and even console viewing technologies) -- all aimed at making end-to-end troubleshooting of enterprise apps something to shoot for.

At the core of these apps management innovations is Wily's Java BCI (byte-code instrumentation) technology, which earlier this fall was announced as the basis of Java's new application manageability features (JSR 163), and were released with J2SE 5.0 (Tiger).

Wily's BCI technology provide specifications for monitoring and management of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). With BCI, J2SE 5.0 became Java's first platform to provide automatic, component-level visibility across the entire Java-based infrastructure.

Wily puts its BCI work to further use with its Introscope 360, a product that Wily founder and CTO Lew Cirne called "the biggest product release in our history as a company." As it name implies, Introscope 360 aims to give IT execs, architects and developers a multi-dimension, real-time look into the workings (and failures, when they occur) of their applications, Cirne told Integration Developer News.

The Coming Boom for Apps Management Pros
Traditionally, apps management or apps recovery, has long been a needle-in-the-haystack operation, Cirne said, and often includes lots of finger-pointing and scratching of heads. "Because there often is no detailed [application] information for the IT team to effectively use to help them pick which experts to bring in on a bridge call, often all their experts are brought in," Cirne said. "That's a very costly and ineffective way to keep a system up and running."

And, in time, this haphazard approach will no longer be just costly, Cirne said. It will become unwieldy and even worse, ineffective.

Cirne cited 10 hazards that will push IT execs to look for more effective ways to manage apps, (and predict apps failures). On his list are:

1) Losing track of apps/developement priorities
2) Failures occur without warning
3) Time-to-repair is unpredictable
4) Core web app teams may lack technical skills
5) Lack of benchmarks, Best Practices
6) Longer testing cycles
7) Loss of faith in IT's ability (resulting in plummets in service)
8) Management frustration with exsiting tools and processes
9) Communication breaks down
10) Failure to recognize business risks (from reactive apps processes)

On top of these concerns, Cirne also notes four (4) trends that are lining up to burst open app management opportunities for devs and architects, notably those that know Java/J2EE.

They include:
  • The transition to next-generation applications has created new performance management challenges;
  • New applications are more complex, interconnected and time-sensitive than previous generations;
  • There are more stakeholders in the enterprise now impacted by application performance; and
  • As web apps have proliferated and have become increasingly critical to business success, organizations are confronting the need for a coherent application management strategy

  • With this in mind, Cirne said, Wily is aggressively applying its BCI technologies to capture and help IT execs discern the importance of their end-to-end application performance metrics. "Our BCI agent makes any Java code self-diagnostic without any dev interaction or source code modification," Cirne said. "We can guarantee that visibility will be there and be consistent. That is the key to low TCO for manageability."

    Wily's approach has a familiar theme to as, as leading Java toolmakers Borland and Compuware are taking steps to put apps management (or Application Lifecycle Management) features into their IDEs, But Cirne said, newly-released IDEs often can't help grab data or metrics from already-built apps. "With so many apps out there already deployed, and many of them componentized to work with a variety of other [Java and non-Java services or]] the IDE should not be your only access to [enterprise] applications," Cirne said.

    Introscope 360 "looks at every aspect of your application, and prioritizes the ones that need your urgent attention now.: Cirne said. "We're not just deploying new monitoring software, but we're letting you set up processes to better collaboratively manage your application, by integrating what we discover with your existing Help Desk and enterprise management" software, he added.

    Wily's enterprise assessment tools, for instance, provide IT staff a methodology designed to evaluate the current application portfolio from a variety of perspectives. This assessment brings together critical data spread across the organization and offers a valuable evaluation of application characteristics, current performance, risks and costs. The assessment enables enterprises to prioritize applications and their potential for problems.

    Inside Introscope 360's Real-Time
    'Round-the-Enterprise' Views

    Specifically, Wily's Introscope 360 provides three (3) discreet views of apps operations, each of which can be aligned to fit with different IT or business units. These "views," all based on high-capacity, real-time data collection and analysis, include:

    1. Top-to-bottom -- which looks at the application "stack" components, including the operating system, the Java virtual machine(s) JVMs, eth application server itself, as well as any third-party libraries and/or custom application logic that resides on it;
    2. Inside-to-outside -- which looks at aspects of an integrated apps tied in with backend data or applications systems, with focused attention on looking at every single transaction in real-time. To further corroborate proper integrated operation of the application, this aspect will also simulate transactions from the outside to ensure all connections and components are correctly and efficiently operating; and
    3. End-to-end -- which looks at a wide array of front-end and back-end connections from the app server, including "true" browser responses is real-time operations (not simulated), and performance of Java components that work with backend systems to generate web pages, or other client displays.

    As for data collection, SmartStor records 100% of the data reported to Introscope and makes it available for viewing in customized dashboards or in easy-to-read reports for problem solving, problem replay, trend analysis and capacity planning. Performance of every application component can be viewed in real time or can be replayed from any time period for up to a year.

    And scheduling can be automated, as a "command-line workstation" allows Introscope tasks to be initiated, scheduled and executed without initiation at the workstation, so various teams (operations, apps support, and QA) can complete "lights out" operation of many Introscope functions.

    One large enterprise software vendor, with deep roots in Java, has already affirmed Wily's take on the need for better apps management.

    Within a week of Introscope 360's release, German software giant SAP said it would integrate Wily's Introscope with SAP's NetWeaver apps platform to provide better apps visibility and management capabilities. SAP noted the ability of Wily Introscope to provide automatic alerting of apps performance to help apps managers comply with custom-set SLAs (service level agreements). Wily and SAP will work together to deliver specific Introscope technology enhancements designed for SAP NetWeaver, execs added.