management: Mainframe Products for Monitoring Composite Applications?
Applications that run in more than one application environment, or access
data from more than one database manager present new challenges. Monitoring
performance, solving problems or future planning of these composite applications
will often require a monitoring product. This article compares the three main
products for applications with z/OS components: ITCAM for Transactions, BMC
Transaction Analyzer and CA Cross Enterprise APM.
|The traditional 3270 mainframe transaction running in a single CICS or
IMS region is becoming a story of the old days you tell your
grandchildren. Today mainframe applications increasingly access remote resources.
These resources may be transactions, applications or data in a different
region, system or platform. For example, CICS MRO and DPL allow transactions
to call other CICS transactions in remote regions on any z/OS within a sysplex
or VTAM network.
CA Cross Enterprise APM Workspace
Websphere MQ and SOAP push these boundaries further, giving transactions access
not only to other mainframe applications, but distributed applications and services
It's not one-way traffic. Companies interested in getting more from mainframe
assets are looking closely at accessing them from distributed applications.
Middleware like IMS Connect and CICS Transaction Gateway further open up mainframe
The waters get more muddied with dynamic routing technologies. These range
from dynamic workload sharing with IMS CQS and CPSM to Enterprise Service Bus
products, TCPIP redirection and Websphere Message Broker. In many cases, it
is impossible to know exactly which application will service each individual
Monitoring these composite applications is a hard ask. The traditional approach
of monitoring at the transaction and database manager level often isn't enough.
Information about every step of each individual composite unit of work is needed.
IT staff need to know where it went, how it got there, what processed it, which
database managers were accessed, and how long each step took. In reality, such
monitoring without application program changes needs a commercial composite
application monitoring tool.
For composite applications with a mainframe component, the three main players
are IBMs ITCAM for Transactions, BMCs Transaction Analyzer, and CAs Cross Enterprise
APM. This article takes a look at these three products.
ITCAM for Transactions
|IBM in the past has had several different Tivoli Composite Application
Manager (ITCAM) products, including:
- ITCAM for IMS
- ITCAM for CICS
- ITCAM for SOA (for SOAP traffic)
- ITCAM for Websphere (for Websphere Application Server)
- ITCAM for RTT (for end-to-end response time tracking)
Past versions have not worked together, operating in isolation with their own
separate data processing and GUI front-end. ITCAM for Transactions looks to
fix this. It rolls the RTT, IMS and CICS products together, adding internet
service monitoring and a few other features. It uses IBM's Tivoli
Monitoring (ITM) framework to store, process, archive and display the data.
This gives users a common screen to see all monitoring information, including
that from other Tivoli products.
ITCAM for Transactions differs from the other products in that it provides
out-of-the-box tracking no other software (other than ITM) needed. This
out-of-the-box monitoring for z/OS related components includes IMS, IMS Connect,
CICS, CICS TG, Websphere MQ, and Oracle Tuxedo. Additionally, it covers Websphere
Application Server and SOAP based applications on z/OS. This extra coverage
requires ITCAM for Websphere and ITCAM for SOA respectively separately
priced products. Unfortunately, ITCAM for Websphere does not use ITM, and retains
its proprietary data processing and GUI. It's hard to see IBM allowing this
continue for much longer.
Distributed coverage lags a little behind the competition, including .NET,
Websphere Application Server, and ARM-enabled applications.
Customers lucky enough to have products such as Omegamon for IMS and Omegamon
for CICS can quickly jump to their screens with the correct context from ITCAM
for Transactions workspaces.
Sooner or later users will find composite applications that use an unsupported
way to communicate. This could come from an unsupported software product, or
a home-grown communication system. Either way, this will create a blind
spot when monitoring the application. ITCAM for Transactions is alone
in offering an API to allow users to fill these gaps for themselves. Languages
supported are High Level Assembler, COBOL, PL/1, Java, and C. Unfortunately,
IBM has not included information to allow these custom solutions to link with
data already obtained by ITCAM for Transactions.
BMC MAINVIEW Transaction Analyzer
|BMCs MAINVIEW Transaction Analyzer monitors mainframe transactions, including
composite application information.
BMC aren't giving much away, declining to provide any details other than brochures
available on the web. However from this evidence, Transaction Analyzer uses
other BMC MAINVIEW products to monitor IMS and CICS transactions. This includes
Websphere MQ and DB2 support. Analysis of response time information for composite
applications can be viewed in 'near real-time.' Hyperlinks jump to relevant
BMC MAINVIEW screens for more detailed analysis.
BMC also provides some non-mainframe composite application monitoring using
their Transaction Management Application Response Time Enterprise Edition
product (BMC TM ART). Designed as an end-to-end availability and response time
monitor, it generates 'synthetic' transactions which are monitored for performance.
However this doesn't help users needing to monitor production traffic.
BMC say nothing about its ability to display a complete picture of an entire
composite application, raising some doubts. Screens with topology information,
including detail on every step and how long it took is a prerequisite for any
serious composite application monitor.
BMC supports an impressive array of application environments and database managers,
including Oracle PeopleSoft, Oracle Tuxedo, Siebel, Oracle Database and DB2.
However middleware technologies such as Websphere MQ, SOAP, or Enterprise Service
Bus products are handled by other products.
The biggest disadvantage is that at these two products currently do not work
together. BMC has no solution to track composite applications that operate on
both mainframe and distributed platforms. According to BMCs 2006 Transaction
Management brochure, this will be fixed some time in the future.
CA Cross Enterprise APM
|The CA SYSVIEW Performance Management range of products have monitored
CICS and IMS transactions, and CA Datacom databases for some years now.
This monitoring currently includes some composite application information.
DB2 related information can be added with CA Insight for DB2.
On the distributed side, CA Wily Introscope is the product monitoring composite
applications. It covers an impressive range of application environments including
Microsoft .NET, Oracle Application Server, SAP Netweaver and JBOSS. The base
product can also monitor SOAP applications, and handles Enterprise Service Bus
software like Websphere Enterprise Services Bus and Oracle Service Bus. Separately
ordered Powerpacks add support for Oracle Database, Websphere Application Server
and Websphere MQ.
CAs brand new Cross Enterprise APM is the glue that brings these two products
together, making CA solutions far more attractive. With Cross Enterprise APM,
CA Wily gets and displays SYSVIEW information by periodically polling the relevant
products. This allows CA Wily to show information on the complete composite
application on one screen.
Currently, full composite application 'tracing' is only available for CICS/CICS
TG transactions, and needs CA SYSVIEW Performance Management Event Capture Option
and CA SYSVIEW Performance Management Option for CICS. Tracking of Websphere
MQ traffic on both mainframe and distributed platforms is also fully supported.
IMS Connect support is scheduled for future releases.
There are other products competing in the composite application monitoring
market, including Oracle's Composite Application Monitor and Modeler (OCAMM)
and Sun Java Composite Application Platform Suite. However mainframe users have
a more limited choice.
BMCs MAINVIEW Transaction Analyzer is limited to IMS and CICS transactions.
This leaves a sizeable gap for customers looking to monitor applications that
operate on both mainframe and distributed platforms, or those with Websphere
Application Server applications.
CA Cross Enterprise APM has no such limitation for CICS transactions, connecting
the mature CA Wily and CA SYSVIEW products together. CA Wily would have to win
the distributed coverage stakes, handling an impressive range of application
managers and middleware.
IBMs ITCAM for Transactions is refreshing in that it doesn't require other
products (other than ITM) to work out of the box. However for extended coverage,
other Tivoli monitoring products are required. It is comfortable with applications
that include both mainframe and distributed processing. What's more, it is the
only solution supporting Websphere AS and SOAP on z/OS. If IBM publish enough
information to use its API for custom solutions, they will have a big advantage
for users with unsupported composite application segments.
Mainframe users will be particularly interested in performance. Many monitors
designed for distributed workloads have suffered when faced with thousands of
mainframe transactions per second. Mainframe CPU consumption, distributed hardware
requirements and ease of use will also be key issues to ask when considering
Monitoring Composite Applications (Measure IT: http://www.cmg.org/measureit/issues/mit66/m_66_3.html)
CA Wily (http://www.ca.com/us/application-management.aspx)
Enterprise APM Whitepaper (http://www.ca.com/us/whitepapers/collateral.aspx?cid=222160)
for Transactions (http://www-01.ibm.com/software/tivoli/products/composite-application-mgr-transactions/)
Transaction Analyzer (http://www.bmc.com/products/product-listing/38960322-104305-38960322-104305-2323.html)
Transaction Management Application Response Time (http://www.bmc.com/products/product-listing/40178106-136055-2866.html)
Disclaimer: David was a developer with IBM on mainframe components of ITCAM
for Transactions between November 2007 and March 2009.