Manage the Health of Your SOA with Transaction Monitoring

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Companies that have already adopted a services-oriented architecture (SOA) are well versed in the benefits of such a migration. The flexibility enabled through an SOA environment makes it much easier for companies to quickly respond to changing business conditions. SOA also provides a cost-effective, timely solution to managing growth that has outpaced a company's existing infrastructure and resulted in the need for more robust systems and formal processes. Although it is undeniable that more and more companies are choosing to migrate to a services-oriented architecture, the key factors driving these organizations to join the SOA movement have shifted, mostly due to the current economic environment.

A shifting business case: from "nice to have" to "need to have"

For many companies, the business case for the adoption of SOA has gone beyond the obvious business drivers of improving service levels and customer satisfaction. As many companies prepare for a "no-growth" year, executives are shifting their focus from top line revenue to bottom line profits. 2009 is all about keeping companies lean and conserving cash. SOA is emerging as an integral part of many companies' overall survival strategies to help ensure that bottom-line profitability is sustained in a no-growth environment through greater agility, reduced infrastructure cost, and streamlined operational efficiency.

Tipping the IT priorities

The increasing importance of SOA environments is presenting a great opportunity for IT and operations managers to re-align their priorities with strategic business objectives. SOA introduces a whole new level of infrastructure complexity, as composite applications and fragmented network systems make it difficult to pinpoint network issues and determine if critical business applications are performing as expected. SOA has, once again, redefined the parameters of the two most common problems in existence for IT managers and operations teams: visibility and information management. As a result, IT and operations teams should be putting major emphasis on implementing best practices and technologies that provide a real-time window into the state of health within SOA environments to enable seamless management across all services and systems. Without technologies that can address these two evolving problems, IT effectiveness will deteriorate as the number of services in the data center grows.

The murkiness of your SOA environment

Loosely coupled disparate systems, reusable services, service-based application components, multi-channel integration efforts, and packaged applications such as CRM suites, inventory management systems, and billing systems are resulting in clouded end-to-end network visibility. The deployment of real-time applications such as advanced POS terminals, ATMs, and e-commerce applications add yet another layer of complexity. This loss in end-to-end visibility is making it hard to manage the interoperability of SOA environments and to quickly identify, isolate and remediate problems affecting the completion of critical business transactions, including online banking, payment and credit transactions.

Transaction management for the health of your SOA environment

Within complicated infrastructures, every transaction failure caused by a service, network or application issue could translate into a business failure -- loss of end customers, deteriorated service levels (due to unidentified problems and third party providers failing to live up to their service level agreements), and less streamlined operations due to labor-intensive troubleshooting processes and unresolved finger-pointing across various departments.

Transaction management technologies provide IT and operations teams with the end-to-end visibility and intelligence they need to gain a clear view of how all these various pieces of the SOA work together.

The complexity of the transaction flow process within an SOA environment makes it hard for IT and operations teams to guarantee that each transaction will appear as a seamless, single transaction to the end customer. Transaction monitoring can give them the ability to continuously monitor, track and remediate problems with business transactions as they span real-time applications, diverse services, packaged applications, processing engines, databases and legacy components.

Gaining end-to-end visibility

Transaction management technologies give IT and operations teams a single view into what is going on within their composite application and network infrastructures. The state of health within an SOA environment can be guaranteed through the continuous monitoring of critical business transactions and how they perform as they pass through disparate systems and various application components. Real-time transaction monitoring and exception-based alerting enable IT and operations teams to rapidly identify transaction slowdowns and failures in order to isolate and resolve problems within every network and application component that makes up the end-to-end transaction path. The IT and operations teams will also be able to gather data related to the performance of third party suppliers, and ensure their service level performance matches the price.

Utilizing business transaction intelligence

Transaction management technologies also provide the in-depth intelligence and analytics companies need to guarantee the state of health of a SOA environment, while minimizing the risk of service impacts on customer retention, infrastructure costs, operational efficiency and IT productivity.

Today's transaction monitoring technologies will automatically capture and correlate every message, request and call related to each critical transaction, allowing IT teams to efficiently (and transparently) analyze end-to-end network and application performance. IT and operations staff can streamline operational processes such as troubleshooting and remediation processes by spending less time staring at multiple screens, digging through various log files, and consolidating information to remediate issues in SOA systems.

Graphical consoles can provide consolidated, enterprise-wide overviews of disparate network systems and the performance of composite applications for 24/7 help desk response. Flexible data categorization options can also be used to drill down and display information by useful groupings such as type of service, application, processor, transaction, carrier network, or geographic location. Historical transaction logs also capture every transaction for quick root cause troubleshooting and analytics reporting.

Businesses will be able to reduce maintenance overhead and eliminate wasted time (and expensive resources) previously spent finger-pointing to various departments, teams and third party vendors.

Supporting Your business case for SOA through transaction management

Transaction management technologies can greatly improve the business value of your SOA environment by providing the visibility and information management capabilities that IT and operations teams need to proactively manage a whole new level of infrastructure complexity, end-to-end. Companies now have a way to guarantee the interoperability of SOA environments to help ensure that bottom-line profitability is sustained through greater agility, reduced infrastructure cost, and streamlined operational efficiency. The business benefits you will derive from your SOA environment are directly tied to your ability to properly manage the execution and delivery of the services themselves.

More by Stacy Gorkoff


INETCO Systems Limited creates business transaction intelligence solutions to help companies manage the performance of their payment networks and real-time applications such as POS terminals, ATMs, and e-commerce applications. The company's core technology, INETCO Insight, provides both real-time transaction information and historical trending analytics to quickly identify issues impacting critical business processes, payment revenue streams, and the end customer experience. INETCO products are currently deployed within financial, retail, and telecommunications IT environments in over 50 countries. INETCO is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.