Creating dashboards for the enterprise

Enterprise application performance or service level management solutions not only help companies adhere to business-defined SLAs. They also help IT staffs to identify problems quickly in complex, distributed applications that often involve multiple technology stacks from many vendors. When production issues do occur, these tools promptly pinpoint the problem. Time to resolution is cut short and finger pointing among different technology groups is eliminated.

Indicative Service Director is one solution that is definitely up to the task of managing performance in large, mixed enterprise environments. It provides monitoring agents for a wide range of platforms and technologies such as server operating systems, networks, Web servers, application servers and more.

It offers tremendous flexibility in configuring performance metrics and defining service levels and easily removes the need for a large number of disparate monitoring tools in your data centre.

In addition to passive and agent-based monitoring of production systems, Indicative Service Director performs active and agentless monitoring, allowing transaction scripting for regression and load testing of applications during staging. It offers hooks into other management frameworks such as Hewlett-Packard Co. OpenView and IBM Corp. Tivoli.

To test the solution, I used it to monitor a half-dozen applications running on Apache and Microsoft IIS Web servers, BEA WebLogic and IBM WebSphere J2EE application servers, and IBM DB2 and Oracle databases.

The Indicative solution installed quickly and easily. Components include the Diagnostic Measurement Server, which is used for gathering and interpreting metrics; the administrative console, used to configure the monitoring environment; and the end-user graphical interface, which supports role-based access.

The admin console made it easy to define monitors and thresholds for my various servers. I simply dragged and dropped templates into my “service model” and set the threshold to the appropriate response time for my WebSphere servers, Oracle databases and other systems.

Indicative provides more than 700 templates for monitoring everything from CPU utilization of your servers to the performance of Java or .Net applications, e-mail systems, network infrastructure and Web services.

For custom applications and other cases that the templates don’t cover, administrators can define their own monitors. One particularly useful feature in Indicative is autodiscovery of hosts and applications on the network.

I used autodiscovery to locate and populate monitors for all the Web servers in my test environment. If you have a particularly large enterprise that requires deploying many monitors, autodiscovery is a real time-saver. The end-user graphical interface is very easy to navigate and interpret, providing the familiar red, green and yellow traffic-light colour tools.

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