Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One Step To Prepare For Cloud Computing

Some of you may be wondering why I am making such a big stink about software architecture on a blog about service level automation (SLAuto). Well, as Todd Biske points out, "the relationships (and potentially collisions) between the worlds of enterprise system management, business process management, web service management, business activity monitoring, and business intelligence" are easier to resolve if the appropriate access to metrics is provided for a software service. For SLAuto, this means the more feedback you can provide from the service, process, data and infrastructure levels of your software architecture, the easier it is to automate service level compliance.

Let's look at a few examples for each level:
  • Service/Application: From the end user's perspective, this is what service levels are all about. Key metrics such as transaction rates (how many orders/hour, etc.), response times, error rates, and availability are what the end users of a service (e.g. consumers, business stakeholders, etc.) really care about.
  • Business Process: Business process metrics can warn the SLAuto environment about cross-service issues, business rule violations or other extraordinary conditions in the process cycle that would warrant capacity changes at the BPM or service levels.
  • Data Storage/Management: Primarily, this layer can inform the SLAuto system about storage needs and storage provisioning, which in turn is critical to automated deployment of applications into a dynamic environment.
  • Infrastructure: This is the most common form of metric used to make SLAuto decisions today. Such metrics as CPU utilization, memory utilization and I/O rates are commonly used in both virtualized and non-virtualized automated environments.

As noted, digital measurement of these data points can feed an SLAuto policy engine to trigger capacity adjustment, failure recover or other applicable actions as necessary to remain within defined service thresholds. While most of the technology required to support SLAuto is available, the truth is that the monitoring/metrics side of things is the most uncharted territory. As an action item, I ask all of you to take Todd's words of wisdom into account, and design not only for functionality, but also manageability. This will aid you greatly in the quest to build fluid systems that can best take advantage of utility infrastructure today.

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