Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cross-Facet Correlation Provided by Jopr

I'm surprised you are still reading this, given the nebulous title of this blog :). But I'm glad you are here. I want to further explain what my last blog was really trying to convey.

Jopr is essentially an abstract management framework - at its core, Jopr does not understand about the concrete managed resources it actually is managing. Specific, concrete knowledge of the manage resource implementations is pushed out to the edges - in the agent plugins themselves.

But what Jopr knows, at its core, are the different management "facets" that those managed resources support. What is a "management facet"? Simple - a facet is a subset of functionality that all managed resources may or may not support. Facets are orthogonal - a managed resource and its plugin can support any number of facets in any combination.

Jopr supports several types of facets - for example, the measurement facet (for collecting metric data), the operation facet (for controlling managed resources), the configuration facet (for retrieving and setting resource configurations), the content facet (for pushing and pulling file content to/from managed resources), the event facet (to emit asynchronous event information such as a managed resource's log file messages) and others.

There are numerous advantages for having an abstract management platform that can handle all of these different management facets for many different kinds of managed resources. One of these advantages is the ability to correlate and process information across all the different facets.

Looking at Jopr's summary timeline, and what "cross-facet correlation" means soon becomes very apparent:This timeline (with time moving from left to right), in one view has correlated information such as:
  • when the resource was up and down; notice the background color - light green means the resource was up at that time and a red background means the resource was down with grey meaning it is unknown what the state of the resource was (measurement facet)
  • when events (e.g. log messages) happened, how many of them occurred and how severe these events were (severity is shown in the badging of the events icons). (event facet)
  • when alerts were raised and how severe those alerts were (alerts are shown as flag icons with their severity indicated by their color). Alerting isn't an actual management facet per-se, the alert subsystem is provided to all managed resources with no effort needed on the part of the plugin - alerts are provided "for free".
  • when a resource's configuration was changed and whether or not that change was successful or if it failed (configuration facet)
  • when an operation was invoked on a resource and whether or not that attempt to control the resource was successful or not (operation facet)
This is what "cross-facet correlation" is all about. How is this helpful? Well, if I see a gap of events in my timeline, where that gap has a background of red, that tells me very quickly that I am not receiving any events because the resource is down! If I see that I changed the configuration of a resource, and soon after I see a flood of warning events and then perhaps followed by a red background, I can immediately begin to suspect that that configuration change caused an adverse affect on the behavior of my resource. If I executed an operation and soon after see one or more alerts trigger, I should start by investigating if that operation caused the resource to act strangely.

Cross-facet correlation occurs in other areas of the Jopr UI (and the sky's the limit to where we can take Jopr from here in the future). For example, here is the summary tab for my agent. Notice how all the different facets are combined into a single view so at a glance you can see what is currently going on with this agent resource.

I can see that I had one operation, out of the past three, that failed. I can see that I recently updated the configuration of this resource several times, one of which failed. I can see what the current measurements are for this resource, and what events and alerts have been logged, when they happened and their severity.

All of this data is linked to their respective pages in the UI - if I want to see more about the alerts, I click the alert links. More about the operations? Click the operation links. And so on.

And because Jopr has abstracted the facets so they are applicable across any number of managed resources, we can manage all different kinds of resources - JBoss Application Servers, Apache Web Servers, Tomcat Web Application Servers, hardware boxes, operating system services, even Jopr itself - and we reuse the same UI pages, the same code, and the same look & feel - no additional code needs to be introduced to the server to support additional types of managed resources!

For example, above you see the summary for the Jopr agent. What's the summary information look like for a JBoss Application Server that I am managing? You can see this here. Notice that the same look & feel, the same UI pages and code is used, the same SQL queries - everything is reused. No additional integration is needed on the server side. But notice the difference. The agent resource supports the "configuration facet" - which is why you saw the "Configure" tab and the configuration update information earlier. But the agent does not support the "content facet" (the agent does not push or pull content over the Jopr content subsystem). But look at the JBossAS resource - it does not support the configuration facet (so you don't see the Configure tab and there are no recent config updates) but it does support the content facet (you can see the Content tab along with some recent package history). The JBossAS resource component in the agent will send up to the Jopr server information about what packages (e.g. jar libraries) it has installed. If a resource supports it, you can even ship down updated packages to the resource (for example, to send down new jars that incorporate bug fixes).

The above just talks about correlating cross-facet information for a specific resource. What if I want to see information across my entire inventory? What if I want to see all of the alerts that were triggered by Jopr, regardless of the resource that triggered the alert. What if I want to see all the configuration changes made to my environment, regardless of which resource was reconfigured?

Again, because Jopr is abstract in nature, we can scan the inventory history and aggregate this kind of information. Below you see that we can view all the alerts and all configuration changes - you can even filter the results if you only care about a subset of the data.

I think this clearly shows how an abstract management platform that supports multiple management facets can provide tremendous value to anyone managing a network of hardware and software products.

Well, that's all I have to say on this subject (for now). I hope this makes it a bit more clear what Jopr brings to the table and its value-add that it can bring to your IT environment.

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