Enabling effective BAM with the ESB

June 10, 2006

By now most folks understand the advantages of running and orchestrating key business processes using SOA principles and Enterprise Service Buses, like the web service standards based Cape Clear ESB. There is a lot of business activity taking place on the ESB, and it’d be great to be able to monitor that, gather the intelligence and analyze what our businesses are telling us. In other words putting the ESB and Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) together.

One of the key issues when considering BAM is being non-invasive. A BAM should be able to collect the data it needs to present a real-time dashboard of business state and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), without you having to engineer that into your applications. Another key issue is correlation. Lots of bits of data and process state go into creating a holistic picture of a business process. A BAM needs to be able to tie all those bits together. Different systems often use different keys to identify a particular instance of a process. Sometimes the interaction between systems is terse e.g. in a synchronous request/response scenario the response message might not even have a process identifier. This can make it difficult for the BAM to create that holistic view and show you everything you want to see.

Fortunately, both of these issues can be addressed very effectively by the ESB. When business services are exposed on an ESB, the bus is handling all the messages as they flow between services. These messages and their orchestrated flow between services define a large part of the process. The ESB itself can event out these messages to the BAM, there is no need for invasive engineering – so collection is free. The ESB is already doing correlation, internally it knows what process instances it is dealing with, so it can add that information to the messages it sends to the BAM, together with a whole bunch of other useful stuff like timestamps and source and destination services.

Sometimes of course, things happen inside of applications that are invisible to the bus, and may be difficult to collect, but that are important to know. Again the ESB can help by exposing its BAM collection function as just another service that applications can invoke. With the Cape Clear ESB we’re enabling effective BAM. We’re doing a whole bunch of other great stuff to make BAM easier too, I’ll post more on that soon.

In the meantime, how about a new TLA: SAM – SOA Activity Monitoring 🙂

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