Demystifying Middleware for DevOps


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EMA's perspective on enabling development and QA teams with high quality tools that deliver visibility to WMQ messages. Nastel's "freemium" AutoPilot® On-demand for WebSphere MQ gives these teams access to a production-grade MQ diagnostics solution using a web browser, and without impacting production systems.

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Demystifying Middleware for DevOps

  1. 1. Demystifying Middleware for DevOpsAn ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES® (EMA™) White PaperPrepared for NastelSeptember 2011 IT & DATA MANAGEMENT RESEARCH, INDUSTRY ANALYSIS & CONSULTING
  2. 2. Demystifying Middleware for DevOps Table of Contents Introduction...........................................................................................................................................................1 Better Middleware Testing Means Lower Production Support Costs........................................................2 Nastel AutoPilot and AutoPilot On-Demand.................................................................................................2 Key Benefits and Pricing......................................................................................................................................4 EMA Perspective...................................................................................................................................................5 ©2011 Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. |
  3. 3. Demystifying Middleware for DevOps Introduction DevOps is a hot topic right now, and for good reason. Today’s application environments have become far too complex to deploy Tools play a key role in and manage with silo teams and stand-alone tools. Instead, they DevOps, as the right tools require coordination and collaboration across virtually all silos, can be a bridge supplying a and this is typically accomplished with teams of senior specialists “common language” across with skill sets spanning Development and Operations. Tools play teams with diverse skillsets a key role in DevOps, as the right tools can be a bridge supplying and “technology languages.” a “common language” across teams with diverse skillsets and “technology languages.” ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES® (EMA™) research has found that more than 80% of today’s IT organizations rely on cross-functional teams to address application-related issues. These teams are called by a variety of names. Few companies actually call them “DevOps,” but instead know them as “Infrastructure Services” or “Centers of Excellence,” for example. In some companies, these teams are composed of ad-hoc specialists drawn from Development and Operations. Other companies fund dedicated groups through CIO or Operations budgets. Regardless of what they are called or how they are organized, their roles are similar. They are responsible for planning, deploying and supporting valuable business applications as they traverse the software lifecycle from development through deployment and on to production. One factor that is often overlooked in DevOps discussions is the fact that people and skills aren’t enough. In today’s fast-paced technology environments, processes and tools are equally important. The right tools enable specialists from a variety of technical backgrounds to find common ground by giving them a common view of the application they are supporting. Too often, these teams rely on homegrown tools that in virtually every case are far less sophisticated than those available from Too often, these teams rely today’s leading enterprise management vendors, and more difficult on homegrown tools that in to maintain. Even those companies that do have commercial virtually every case are far management solutions in place may limit access to production less sophisticated than those support administrators. This is particularly true of management tools available from today’s leading for middleware solutions such as IBM WebSphere MQ (WMQ). enterprise management vendors, Nastel’s premium AutoPilot® M6 APM solution is used by the and more difficult to maintain. world’s largest companies to strategically manage the performance of mission-critical, tiered, integrated applications. On October 1, 2011, Nastel is releasing its first “freemium” solution, AutoPilot® On-Demand for WebSphere MQ. This is a production-grade tool that is available free of charge for use by Development, Operations, or DevOps to test WMQ-based applications. This is the first in a series of “freemium” toolsets, with solutions for log analysis, Java, .NET, and other technologies on the drawing board. This EMA paper describes the new product and its value proposition and positions it in an industry in which middleware management tends to be an afterthought. Page 1Page 1 ©2011 Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. |
  4. 4. Demystifying Middleware for DevOps Better Middleware Testing Means Lower Production Support Costs WMQ is today’s most widely used messaging system, supporting many of the most business-critical applications on the planet. EMA has documented losses in the millions of dollars per year in downtime at a high-tech manufacturer running WMQ-based applications. This company’s IT teams supported 350 + such applications, and the downtime was due to failures which were not detected by the ten-year- old homegrown scripts used to manage them.1 Even for those companies that do invest in commercial tools, access to the toolsets is typically limited to WMQ administrators and their delegates. This creates a significant problem for developers and Quality Assurance (QA) professionals. Without self-service access to WMQ monitoring products, testing software or duplicating production problems requires ongoing assistance from production WMQ management teams. This can significantly impede timely software delivery and problem resolution. Today’s highest-impact applications are, more often than not, integrated across tiers, companies, and even geographies. These applications are extremely complex, and middleware is the “glue” that knits them together. While everyone understands that pre-production testing is necessary, duplication of these complex production environments is virtually impossible. Reproducing production hardware, software, and licensing for pre-deployment testing, and staffing to support it, is cost prohibitive in and of itself. For this reason, application testing is all too often done against “stub” programs which simulate, but cannot duplicate, production systems. Since many complex applications go into production without being adequately tested, problems then manifest in production environments. This creates additional problems for DevOps personnel, who lack the tools necessary to identify and reproduce the problem. Recurring problems result, and such problems can significantly impact ongoing production support costs. A landmark U.S. National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) study on software testing found that the cost of fixing software defects rises exponentially as the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) progresses. While a defect discovered in the design phase may cost “X” to fix, the same defect found during testing will cost between 5X and 10X. Once the software is in production, the cost escalates to 30X.2 There are multiple reasons why this is true; however, the key takeaway is that lack of software testing drives exponential ongoing costs. Nastel AutoPilot and AutoPilot On-Demand Nastel is targeting these WMQ-related challenges with its new “freemium” product. AutoPilot® On-Demand for WebSphere WMQ is a Web-based, agentless version of Nastel’s enterprise-grade AutoPilot for WebSphere WMQ solution. It is packaged for easy download and deployment as a VMware Virtual Machine (VM) appliance. 1 D ue to these losses, this company became a Nastel customer. The story is profiled in EMA research entitled, The Search for the Elusive ROI: Tracking Down Value in a Jungle of Enterprise Management Products, available at: The-Search-for-the-Elusive-ROI:-Tracking-Down-Value-in-a-Jungle-of-Enterprise-Management-Products 2 “ The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Infrastructure for Software Testing”, available at: planning/upload/report02-3.pdf Page 2Page 2 ©2011 Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. |
  5. 5. Demystifying Middleware for DevOps Capabilities include: • Secure, audited access controlled by personnel with administrative rights to each queue • Views of WebSphere MQ resources such as queues, channels, queue managers, and subscriptions (see Figure 1) Figure 1: Channel View • Ability to view and manipulate messages generated by applications (see Figure 2) Figure 2: Message Management View Page 3Page 3 ©2011 Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. |
  6. 6. Demystifying Middleware for DevOps • Views of queue status and applications (see Figure 3) Figure 3: Queue Status View • Resource utilization displays, such as queue depth, channel usage • Ability to act on application specific messages (move, copy, edit, route, replay, create). Available at:, the tool can be downloaded, deployed, and operational within 30 minutes. Once installed, it provides secure visibility to WMQ queues via a standard Web link. This visibility eliminates delays in developer, QA, or DevOps activities by putting self-service access into their hands. This, in turn, reduces demands on middleware administrators, who are otherwise called upon to drop their own work to assist these groups during testing. Key Benefits and Pricing • Simplicity: AutoPilot On-Demand is easy to deploy and simple to use. Delivered as a virtual appliance image based on VMware, it can be deployed via VMware ESX or with the VMware Player available at: Users simply download, unZip, and “play” the file, then add queue managers to be managed. No agents are required. • Secure multi-user access: Role-based access to messages and to the actions that can be applied to these messages is provided. This provides self-service to each user but only to what they are entitled to access. • Vendor-provided online help and self-training: Developers and QA testers are not trained in IT operations. Nastel has provided intuitive materials that guide key stakeholders based on WMQ concepts familiar to them. The product requires minimal configuration, and is designed to be a “point and shoot” solution. Page 4Page 4 ©2011 Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. |
  7. 7. Demystifying Middleware for DevOps • Secure message management: Development and QA testing require repetitive iterations to “get the software right” by testing a variety of use cases. A key differentiator is the inherent capability of AutoPilot On-Demand to generate, browse, replay and reroute messages for ongoing iterations. This can be a significant time saver for teams engaged in pre-deployment testing, as it eliminates the need to re-create the data for each and every iteration. • Better integration testing means better software quality: Ease of use and rich functionality enable higher quality integration testing. Development, testing, and other groups can test against real WMQ data to understand exactly how the software performs in real WMQ environments. This, in turn, promotes bottom-line value based on better uptime, performance, and cost avoidance. • DevOps enablement: Because of the cross-functional nature of DevOps teams, many companies are struggling to figure out the right way to staff and support such teams. These teams have different skills and “speak” different technology languages. The most positive outcomes require a combination of people, process, and technology, and tools selections should reflect the requirement to promote a common language based on everyone working from the same information base. AutoPilot On-Demand for WMQ is an ideal tool for such teams, as it gives them the ability to work collaboratively to identify and solve application-related problems, ideally before applications are ever deployed. • Easy “try before you buy” model: Zero cost for up to three users. • Production pricing: ◦◦ Per defined-user licensing ◦◦ $20,000 core license for VM appliance with 10 users ◦◦ $2,000 per defined user EMA Perspective The DevOps concept is not new; however, it has become a hot topic in the past eighteen months to two years as companies struggle to find a better way to support applications running over massively distributed, diverse, and rapidly changing operational fabrics. DevOps is part of the answer, but people and skills alone are no longer enough. Modern enterprise management toolsets deliver value beyond simple automation. They encapsulate the knowledge of some of the world’s best enterprise management experts, and customers are investing in this knowledge as much as they are in the tools themselves. In the specific case of WMQ, it is a complex technology for which neither Developers nor QA teams typically have administrative-level expertise; however, they do know how applications interact with WMQ and they need an easy way to see these interactions without investing in expensive, heavyweight, administrative-level tools. “Try before you buy” is Nastel’s development of this “freemium” product is notable in a something that most of number of ways. “Try before you buy” is something that most of today’s companies are today’s companies are seeking, and Nastel has gone to great lengths seeking, and Nastel has gone to make access and implementation seamless and simple. It is also to great lengths to make notable in that the product puts high-quality tools in the hands of access and implementation pre-deployment, versus production, personnel, a constituency that seamless and simple. Page 5Page 5 ©2011 Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. |
  8. 8. Demystifying Middleware for DevOps has traditionally been underserved. Nastel has also made moving beyond the free version to a ten- user license simple. Paid licenses are extremely reasonably priced, particularly in view of the value proposition. Finally, AutoPilot® On-Demand for WebSphere WMQ fills a gap that other leading vendors have not addressed. While it’s hard to improve on “free,” Nastel AutoPilot covers a broad range of technologies supporting the application fabric. It would be nice to see additional “freeware” tools in the future supporting Java and .NET, for example, and apparently these are on the drawing board. EMA expects that this initial foray into freeware will prove to be very popular. Considering the value proposition of software testing, it is also likely that many of these initial deployments will turn into paid licenses over time. About Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. Founded in 1996, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) is a leading industry analyst firm that provides deep insight across the full spectrum of IT and data management technologies. EMA analysts leverage a unique combination of practical experience, insight into industry best practices, and in-depth knowledge of current and planned vendor solutions to help its clients achieve their goals. Learn more about EMA research, analysis, and consulting services for enterprise line of business users, IT professionals and IT vendors at or You can also follow EMA on Twitter or Facebook. This report in whole or in part may not be duplicated, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or retransmitted without prior written permission of Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All opinions and estimates herein constitute our judgement as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Product names mentioned herein may be trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies. “EMA” and “Enterprise Management Associates” are trademarks of Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. in the United States and other countries. ©2011 Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. EMA™, ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES®, and the mobius symbol are registered trademarks or common-law trademarks of Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. Corporate Headquarters: 5777 Central Avenue, Suite 105 Boulder, CO 80301 Phone: +1 303.543.9500 Fax: +1 303.543.7687 2326.091611 Page 6Page 6 ©2011 Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. |