Vic Nyman, BlueStripe Software's COO, brought me up to date on what his company is doing to help its customers know the "what," "where," and "why" when managing application performance. Our conversation roamed through the recent history of information technology and was a great deal of fun.
Philosophy behind BlueStripe's APM toolsNyman pointed out that BlueStripe's products are designed to follow the data and learn applicaiton dependencies without requiring IT staff members to do much more than drop the products into the network and let them learn what is happening. The products focus monitoring, gathering operational data, analyzing that data and offering insight into the following things:
- What — BlueStripe's APM tools learn what workloads are executing. Knowledge of the details of major applications, application frameworks, database managers and tools has been built into the products.
- Where — The tools learn where data, applications, application components, application frameworks and database managers reside on the network. They build a database of dependencies making it possible for the tools to know how everything interacts without requiring IT staff to enter information about what is running in the data center.
- Why — When an application is not meeting service level objectives or fails completely, IT staff can use BlueStripe's tools to dive into what's happening, where it is happening and discover the elements of why it is happening. This, BlueStripe hopes, will accelerate root cause analysis and make it possible to address issues quickly and efficiently.
Snapshot analysisIT managers remember the mainframe era fondly for one reason. All of the application components and data typically were in one place and the mainframe's management tools made it easily possible to learn what was happening at any point in time. When minicomputers, now known as midrange systems, were dropped into the network, things became more complex, but both the mainframe and the minicomputers each managed their own piece of the world and IT staff could quickly determine what was happening.
Over the years, we've moved away from the centralized approach. Applications are now built as a collection of services that are distributed all over the network. Each service is likely to be replicated on multiple systems (physical, virtual or cloud) and in multiple places to assure that levels of reliability, scalability and performance meet the organization's objectives. Unfortunately, this highly distributed, multi-tier, multi-system, multi-data center approach makes the overall computing environment very, very complex.
Tools, such as those being offered by BlueStripe and its competitors, have become a necessity. Bringing simplicity into a world of complexity is BlueStripe's goal. The company's approach goes a long way towards that goal.