SpringSource Application Management Suite

SpringSource has made some recent announcements, in an effort to build up its commercial offering on top of the open source Spring framework. There is now a SpringSource Enterprise subscription which gives you access to an “enterprise” edition of the framework, some support and the SpringSource Performance Suite.

The first two components (enterprise edition and support) are common approaches to commercial open source.

The performance suite is a new product, comprised of the Tool Suite (for development), an Advanced Pack for Oracle (for better use of Oracle RAC features) and the Application Management Suite (AMS). Application and middleware management is what I care most about, so AMS is the part of the announcement that caught my attention.

The only publicly-accessible source of meaningful information about AMS that I could find is this blog post by Jennifer Hickey. AMS is built on Hyperic. The monitoring is based on collecting, through instrumentation, entry and exit times for monitored methods. The agents then reports this to a server. Add to this some discovery capabilities and the console can then report observed metrics on the discovered/selected resources.

The blog post ends by saying that “we’d like to make it as powerful and easy to use as possible for both Developers and Operations staff”. At this stage, I think it’s a lot more likely to be used for development than for operations. The instrumentation overhead is supposed to be “very slight” but, as always with monitoring, this warrants more precise data. Also, it is not clear if/how AMS can integrate with other management tools.

In any case, it’s encouraging to see an open source application development framework which doesn’t entirely focus on ease of development but also acknowledges the full lifecycle of an application (and concerns such as monitoring, as addressed here, but also configuration management, governance, business activity management…). That’s the difference between “the best framework to create an application” and “the best framework to create an application that is expected to be used”. Before open source became a business strategy, a defining characteristic was that the developers where also users of the product. Which naturally meant that it was heavily biased towards developers and development tasks.

From an operations perspective, the AMS team should focus its efforts on application modeling, metric collection and management integration rather than the dashboard. A simple specialized console is great for application developers. The ability to discover, model, configure and monitor applications in conjunction with the other elements of the IT system (e.g. underlying infrastructure, end user experience, business processes and other forms of application integration, etc) is what operators really need.

In any case, it will be interesting to test the practical value of “Spring-aware” application management, above and beyond generic Java application management.

Bonus question: the enterprise edition of the Spring framework is “warranted to be virus-free”. Since the enterprise version includes the base framework, to the extent that the enterprise version is virus-free then mustn’t the base logically be “virus-free” as well? And what does “virus-free” mean anyway?


Filed under Application Mgmt, Everything, IT Systems Mgmt, JMX, Mgmt integration, Spring

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