Getting to the bottom of a problem in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) can frequently require a lot of human capital. Minimizing that expense is one of the goals of the recently announced partnership between Service Integrity and IBM's Autonomic Computing Group.
Service Integrity, a Lexington, Mass.-based maker of real-time performance monitoring and decision support software for SOAs, is leveraging IBM's Autonomic Computing Common Base Event (CBE) technology in its Service Instrumentational Filtering and Tracking (SIFT) software suite, which is tightly integrated with IBM's WebSphere and Tivoli infrastructure management software. As a result, when service-level issues are discovered, SIFT can take corrective action that does not require human intervention, according to the company.
Autonomic computing is IBM's initiative and vision for self-managing systems, which will be achieved through a set of standards and integrating technologies. As part of this initiative, IBM launched a partner program last year to help companies adopt autonomic computing.
"We're working with business partners in the creation of these standards, as well as in implementing these standards and technologies into products," said Dave Bartlett, vice president of autonomic computing at IBM. "The objective is to get a number of business partners doing meaningful implementations of [autonomic] standards and technology."
Autonomic computing is "very relevant" to an SOA environment, Bartlett said. "If you view the world in terms of services that you can access, this will only be as practical as what it takes to access those services." The more standardization around interfaces, he said, will make it more practical to leverage those services.
As part of this effort, IBM has made its Autonomic Computing Toolkit available on its developerWorks Web site. The Common Base Event (CBE) model, part of the toolkit, defines a common representation of events, expressed as an XML schema.
Service Integrity is utilizing the CBE, which focuses on the self-healing aspects of autonomic computing. "Today there is no single mechanism for an end-to-end view of all event data," Bartlett said.
IBM studied different event data demonstrations to determine how to represent events in one format. "Event data from logs, traces, security data and business monitoring data can be expressed in this Base Event format. Once you've done that, you can build an end-to-end view," Bartlett said. IBM submitted the CBE format to the OASIS Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) Technical Committee in late 2003. OASIS ratified WSDM as a standard in March of this year; CBE is a component of the WSDM standard.
By utilizing CBE, "Tivoli can consume events from our product, SIFT, and utilize that to make better business decisions," said Michael Madden, president and CEO at Service Integrity. Systems management tools like Tivoli "can tell you if your infrastructure is working, if your middleware is up and if your transactions are flowing," he said. But as organizations bring composite applications live, everything may be working according to the management dashboard, but in reality there's a problem with the service, "and the tools aren't always telling us why," Madden explained.
SIFT can identify services-related problems across business processes, he said, and by feeding that information to Tivoli, customers can reap some self-healing benefits. An example, he said, is if a company rolled out a new service and that service had a problem, SIFT can feed that information to Tivoli, which can provision a new version or roll back to an old version of the service.
Service Integrity also plans to incorporate IBM's Solution Installation architecture in order to provide self-configuring capabilities during the installation process.
Two-year-old Service Integrity will be rolling out version 4 of SIFT this summer, Madden said. "We just completed certification with the IBM Autonomic Group, so you can integrate [SIFT] with confidence into the Tivoli environment," he said.
While the autonomic computing benefits are designed to complement Tivoli's self-managing capabilities, SIFT can act as a data aggregator to other infrastructure management platforms. It also supports both .NET and Java 2 Enterprise Edition application servers, including BEA WebLogic and JBoss, in addition to WebSphere.