Known primarily as an integration software company, Tibco Software Inc. today announced it is adding SLA management to its SOA portfolio. Called Service Performance Manager 1.0, the SLA management tool will check for latency and demand spikes on a given service and perform load balancing functions.
It addresses the modern problem of unchecked demand created by ease of integration. It is now so easy to link to a given service that it has become commonplace to hear about a service designed for a dozen users being asked to handle 1,000+ users.
"Without some sort of intelligence around the service level agreement, these services are going to crash," said Raghu Thiagarajan, senior director of product management and strategy at Tibco.
This is a reality with which users must come to grips, according to Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC.
"Loose coupling as a whole makes the management and usage planning a lot more difficult, but that's the price you pay for variability," he said. "You can't have variability and flexibility without the need to manage and respond to changes. So, management, quality and governance all have to greatly increase their ability to deal with unpredictable changes without (the currently predictable) failure. So, the whole idea of SLA management changes when you move to systems that are flexible and variable. This is not even SOA specific."
Bradley F. Shimmin, principal analyst of application infrastructure at Current Analysis LLC, listed some of the essentials that need to be covered in an SLA:
- Fault tolerance
- Fault recovery
- General capacity
- Capacity during given times
The SLA management functionality joins policy management and Web services endpoint management inside Tibco's ActiveMatrix platform, which can be bought as a whole or as separate pieces. According to Thiagarajan, the aim of the management products is to provide the scale and reliability necessary for when services experience high volume traffic spikes.
Tibco also sees SLA management becoming a greater necessity as users move away from large grained services where consumers and providers are oblivious of each other to fine grained services where business process compositions rely upon the orchestration of certain dependencies. The Service Performance Manager, in fact, leverages Tibco's complex event processing technology, particularly for the predictive capabilities it offers.
"Loose coupling is going to continue, but large granularity isn't necessarily going to live forever," Thiagarajan said.
Schmelzer said the move into service management makes sense for Tibco, noting that most SOA platform vendors are looking to branch into this area.
"We see that Management is a core part of the Governance-Quality-Management (GQM) trifecta for SOA, which is the real infrastructure of necessity for SOA," he said. "We see the ESB as not particularly necessary to run successful SOA for a number of reasons, but on the other hand, we see GQM as an absolutely necessary part of the SOA infrastructure for a few reasons. The idea of loose coupling is that users anywhere can create and consume services at their sole demand. That means there's a high potential for chaos. To reign in runtime and design time chaos, governance imposes policies and controls. To make sure that the system continues to operate as planned, quality solutions continuously test and verify the system. To make sure the system continues to respond to changing requests, management solutions continuously monitor and intermediate service requests to guarantee operations."
Shimmin also linked SLA management to the larger question of SOA governance.
"One of drivers behind SLAs is the unplanned and unconventional reuse of Web services," he said. "SLAs allow you to specify some expectations of availability and performance, but SLAs reflect just one aspect of service governance that must also take into account: who has access to a service, how that service is being implemented and where that service is being instantiated (internal/external). In other words, enterprise customers need a service governance solution that can apply polices that offer a number of controls, not just quality of service."