Performance monitoring tools for WebSphere
Monitoring and tuning a BPM platform at the system level is far away from getting process tracking points data and build nice scoreboards showing the process performance. But at the end if the system doesn't perform well the users will complain about how it's affecting their performance and how that is impacting the process SLAs. And if that happens the BPM "system" will be seen as the reason for the bad business performance. Besides all that no one likes to use a system that is slow and has bad responsiveness.
Talking about performance...the two common suspects
At the core of a IBM BPM Process Server or Process Center is a Websphere Cell and right under and supporting its functioning on the persistence side is a database. When comes to understand how a BPM system is running and behaving, it's fundamental that this two core pieces are well monitored and around are the right skills to understand what's happening in order to tune it.
The database...one of two
On the DB side, depending on which one it is (DB2, Oracle, SQL Server), the tools may vary but the skills are conceptually the same: Well prepared and skilled DBAs monitoring and understanding what isn't performing as fast as it should, findings ways to improve it and providing useful information to the development teams on what can be better done. And as the databases are getting more "intelligent" and more complex algorithms and heuristics are used for several different things, including execution plans and special features a good skilled and updated DBA is fundamental.
The application server...the other obvious one
On the Websphere Application Server (WAS) side there are several different ways and tools to monitor its functioning. Probably the most known is the Tivoli Performance Viewer (TPV) integrated on the Admin Console. TPV uses what's known as Websphere Performance Monitoring Infrastructure (PMI) displaying several different reports that can be customized to include different indicators about everything that is going on each server (JVM) inside the WAS cell.
Basically you start by selecting the server or servers that you want to monitor and the modules to view on each. There are summary reports and more complete ones with all the kinds of counters and there's also the ability to save a log for future analysis.
Now, let's assume that you have an IBM BPM Process Server with a four-cluster topology in 2 Nodes and you scaled the AppTarget cluster inside which you have for instance 12 servers like represented on the following diagram:
If we count all the JVMs in the cell (even not counting the deployment manager and the two node agents) we have a total of 18.
Now let's imagine that we want to keep an eye on what's going on with these servers and we'll use PMI. Our major issue will be that we'll be jumping between webpages and inside each on these pages we'll have only data reported for a single server. We won't be able to have a single page with data from several different servers.
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