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Application Management is Important to the Entire Process

Application management is an important and ever-changing topic. Important because applications that are not available and performing well are not an asset to an organization. Ever changing because during the last 25 years, application management has transitioned from a few simple ideas with limited tactics to an important pillar of IT. Cloud computing brings with it new application conventions that change application management in fresh ways.

What is the state of application management today? First, the IT industry is motivated because building applications with an eye to manageability is vital to end-user satisfaction. Industry experience has shown that implementation of manageability methods lowers the cost of running applications and improves their reliability and availability. Second, the ideas around application management are different depending on what you do in the IT industry. The differences in interpretation and meaning are in three areas—emphasis, specificity and timing.

When the Emphasis is Often on Software

For some, the focus of application management is narrowly on software. Within the software industry, application management often means management software that centers on the dozens of middleware products that are critical to the success of business applications. These software modules monitor and manage the middleware upon which are built core application components.

Sometimes the approach to application management includes software but extends to all aspects of an application management solution including IT personnel with specific skills, hardware like servers and other devices to host the application management solution components, and IT application management procedures and the data necessary to run the management processes (see Figure 1).

When the Focus is Specific

There are many commercial middleware products that support applications, and their function is diverse. The number of products creates a significant challenge to software companies that provide management solutions. IBM Tivoli Composite Application Manager (ITCAM) for Applications provides proactive monitoring, management, capacity planning and historical analysis for heterogeneous applications and their application infrastructures.

Its scope includes operating systems, databases, web servers and application servers. It also covers IBM messaging and collaboration environments (see Table 1).

Group Product Examples
.NET Microsoft NET framework
Application Servers WebSphere Process Server, IBM PR/SM, JBoss, Oracle/BEA WebLogic Server, Red Hat KVM, SAP NetWeaver, etc.
Brokers WebSphere Event Broker and Message Broker
CICS CICS Transaction Server
Co-installed products Tivoli Service Business Manager
Event Management Tivoli Enterprise Console, Tivoli Netcool/OMNIbus
Integration Middleware WebSphere DataPower Appliances and WebSphere DataPower XML Security Gateway
Managed Resources Apache Axis Application Server, WebSphere Message Broker
Resource Management ITCAM for Response Time Tracking, ITCAM for J2EE, ITCAM for Web Resources, etc.
Service Management Tivoli Business Systems Manager
Service Registry WebSphere Service Registry and Repository
Virtualization IBM Power VM, KVM for SUSE, Red Hat KVM, VMware ESX, WPAR and z/VM

ITCAM for Applications also has direct support for business applications including SAP, PeopleSoft and Siebel. Other software companies have modules that have a specific focus on the business applications (see Figure 2).

Lifecycle Phases Timing

For some, application management is about the full application lifecycle including design, construction, deployment, operation and change. For others, the focus is just when the application is running (see Figure 3). The operation phase is their focus with a concentration on availability and performance of the application. This focus can get quite deep and applications can be instrumented to create data that can be used to measure actual response time of the user. Another approach to end-user response is the simulation of application response by running test scripts in monitoring mode. It is attractive to create test scripts then to have the opportunity to use them in a different operational mode for monitoring.

Joseph Gulla is the general manager and IT leader of Alazar Press, a publisher of award-winning children’s books. Joe is a frequent contributor to IBM Destination z (the community where all things mainframe converge) and writes weekly for the IT Trendz blog where he explores a wide range of topics that interconnect with IBM Z.



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