Application Service Management (ASM) tools typically monitor services and the underlying code components that support those services. But according to ClearApp, a vendor of ASM tools for J2EE-based composite applications, the lack of business context is the biggest limitation in today's enterprise systems and applications management solutions. The solution to this problem, says ClearApp, is the adoption of application service modeling. ClearApp is basing its position in part on the paper What's Next in Application Management: Using Modeling to Optimize Composite Applications in Dynamic Environments written by industry analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG).
According to ESG analysts Bob Laliberte and Brian Babineau, there is a need to automate service discovery and dependency mapping to ensure that complex business services are viewed holistically within heterogeneous, n-tier application environments. In ESG's view, this gap between services and infrastructure will only become more acute as additional layers of abstraction are added by tomorrow's server virtualization and SOA middleware advances.
In the paper, ESG examines the limitations of alternatives to application service modeling. From transaction tracing to business process management to configuration management databases (CMDBs), the report argues that all fail to deliver a complete, consolidated map of the service dependencies shared among complex composite applications, their code, and infrastructure components -- from top to bottom. Similar to how modeling has been successfully deployed in network management, it now should be leveraged in application management as well. The ESG paper concludes that such a maturation of application management would provide clearer root cause analysis, swifter problem resolution, effortless change management, and improved service-level management.