Oracle (and more specifically the middleware and applications management part of Oracle Enterprise Manager) has just acquired ClearApp. The company is based in Mountain View (California) and their QuickVision product is a very advanced management tool for composite applications, especially BPEL-based and Portal-based applications.
QuickVision is a very complementary addition to our existing products and the acquisitions that we have made over the last year in the application management domain. Let’s take a performance management use case to see how they relate to one another conceptually (this is not an integration roadmap, just a comparison of the features of the existing products): Oracle Real User Experience Insight (from the Moniforce acquisition) will tell you that your users are seeing a performance degradation for a specific function of your Web application. If this is a stand-alone Java application, you can go straight into the Enterprise Manager App Server Diagnostic Pack to start from a URL and analyze where processing time is spent (servlet, JSP, EJB, JDBC…). AD4J (from the Auptyma acquisition) provides deep insight into the JVM. It will give you the line number and call stack of the slow methods. For example, it might lead you to a specific database call that is taking a long time to return. You can then follow the trail deep into the database using the Oracle Database Diagnostic and Tuning packs.
But if your application is a composite application (for example one that makes use of a BPEL process to orchestrate services deployed on different application servers), then you would have a hard time finding which application server to focus on. The QuickVision product fills that gap, taking a BPEL process from its invocation point into all its successive steps and into the code that the different steps invoke. So you can see if the problem is within the BPEL execution (e.g. you loop too many times) or inside an invoked Web service. In that case, QuickVision will lead you to the class that implements that service, at which point you have all the context that you need to fire off AD4J and do a fine-grained analysis of the problematic Java code as described above.
In this scenario (and assuming that the root cause is the slowness of a database query executed by a web services that has been invoked through a BPEL process), the chain of management capabilities goes something like this:
User Experience Insight -> QuickVision -> App Server Diagnostic Pack -> Database management packs
A variation on this would be if the service monitored was a SOAP service as opposed to a Web page. Oracle Web Services Manager could then be used as an alternative to Real User Experience Insight to alert you that something was amiss with the application performance. The rest of the flow would be the same.
At the end, it’s not just about managing Web services or Web sites, it’s about managing the whole SOA application.
Of course, QuickVision is not limited to performance analysis, even though that’s my favorite feature. For example, I could have picked a dependency analysis scenario.
To my new colleagues joining us from ClearApp, welcome!
[UPDATED 2008/9/9: InfoQ coverage of the acquisition by Dilip Krishnan.]