APM on the cheap

No money? No problem – you can still craft a useful APM solution from systems you have on hand

So you want to craft an IT request for the CFO but money is already tight? You need bargain-basement APM, and quick.

Fortunately, almost everything you need to build a viable, low-cost APM solution already lurks under the covers of your OS. The tools may not be pretty, but chances are they’ll get the job done.

If you’re managing a Windows environment, you’ve got it easy. Not only does Windows Server ship with a pervasive instrumentation package, it provides some nifty tools, such as the Windows PerfMon (Performance Monitor) application, that make it easy to extract information from the counter infrastructure.

If you prefer to script your queries, you can use the WMIC (Windows Management Instrumentation Console) to extract and parse metrics data using various resource aliases. And, of course, there are any number of utilities -- both freeware and shareware -- that will aggregate these counters and combine them with the Windows Event Logs to create a detailed record of application behavior.

Linux is likewise blessed with many freeware solutions, the most potent of which is sysstat. The sysstat utility package does for Linux what WMIC does for Windows: It provides a command shell-accessible interface to the OS metrics counters, which under Linux are embodied in the /proc pseudo file system.

Other useful open source APM solutions include the moodss graphical monitoring console (very powerful, with an extensible plug-in architecture) and OProfile, featured extensively in IBM’s performance research papers on Linux scalability.

Sun has its own answer to PerfMon and related utilities in the Solaris 9 Resource Manager, which is now available on both Sparc and x86 versions of the OS. Like PerfMon and some of the WMI plumbing for .Net, Solaris 9 Resource Manager provides feedback on all levels of platform operation, from native Solaris processes to Java applications running in the J2EE environment. You can even group applications and define policies for specific combinations of processes.

And, if you run into a problem that can’t be solved by the out-of-box Solaris tools, you’ll be pleased to know that many open source APM tools (including the aforementioned moodss console) also support Solaris along with other Unix derivatives.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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