Rolling Review: Compuware Vantage 10

Compuware pulls together multiple collection methods and makes a good showing in our APM Rolling Review.

October 12, 2007

6 Min Read
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The fourth entry in our application performance management Rolling Review is Compuware's Vantage 10. In our APM kickoff article, we discussed the myriad options that vendors provide to collect information on application performance. No matter what approach you take, Compuware is ready, collecting data with several synthetic transaction, server and application agents; remote agentless collection; and probe-based traffic capture options.

While each version of Vantage—ServerVantage, NetworkVantage and ClientVantage—can be implemented singly, we found that they also integrate smoothly into the VantageView Web-based console. From this single view, you can configure reports and see alerts across all the separate Vantage monitoring databases.

In fact, the best part of Vantage is its VantageView central monitoring, alerting and reporting capability. Through the Web-based GUI, we were able to define real-time monitoring and historical reports from across all collection mechanisms and assign them to specific roles and users. We also configured Compuware's concept of dashboards to roll up performance and availability alerts from each of the client, network and server monitoring methods. We configured a couple of parent-child dashboards and links from them to reports we had created earlier. While this linking flexibility was powerful, we did feel that object placement and the look and feel of the dashboards were static in relation to the portal capabilities of some competitors.A Complete Solution

The Vantage server is only supported on Windows platforms, Microsoft SQL database and Microsoft Internet Information Server. However, Vantage server agents and remote monitoring support most versions of Unix as wells as mainframes. Of course, synthetic and real transactions can be captured to and from Web applications on any platform, and the NetworkVantage probe can track any type of traffic.

This article is one of a series and is part of NWC's Rolling Review of Application Performance Management . Click on that link to go to the Rolling Reviews home page to read all the features and reviews now.

The Vantage 10 release, which starts at $50,000, adds end-to-end Web application monitoring through integration with Compuware's End User Experience and Java/.NET monitoring tools. It also adds correlation of service degradation with affected users through the company's Business Impact Monitor. With some increased application environment intelligence, including VoIP, Oracle Forms and WebSphere MQ, Compuware builds on its event management advancements for better event handling and integration with external systems.

As you may have surmised, because of the multiple components comprising ClientVantage, NetworkVantage, ServerVantage, ApplicationVantage and QACenter, installation is not as straightforward as clicking a button. Before purchase, a Vantage deployment needs to be well planned, with the architecture based primarily on the expected load on each probe, agent or collector. Compuware has professional services available to help with pre-purchase architecture planning.

On the flip side, the complexity of this architecture also provides flexibility and scalability, and Compuware says its distributed management control layer also adds to Vantage's growth potential. For example, one ServerManager can support as many as 1,000 agents, but you may add multiple ServerManagers, then access and report from all of them in VantageView. Compuware is the most complete system we've reviewed so far in terms of data collection. We did not test the scalability of this three-tier agent, controller and console architecture; however, we did validate how it can be distributed across machines.Running and Collecting

Synthetic transaction monitoring is broken down into two phases. To support both business service and technically focused roles, Vantage allows business users to define monitoring of business rules through a step-by-step guide that creates applications comprising transactions. The technical role is then able to use the appropriate Compuware QACenter product to record a transaction via the GUI, and with some scripting expertise, configure it for monitoring and thresholds. All of this worked well for us, with a little support from Compuware inserting "checkpoints" into the script to track transaction progress.

The ServerVantage agent automatically discovered available counters from the server and our application. Some of these included process availability, memory utilization, and authentication failures and file uploads. We then configured collection of a few counters, defined static threshold rules for alert generation, set up sampling intervals and scheduled it all to run. This worked without issues, except that we found the requirement to type in process names or IDs for monitoring tedious. In other products, we've had process discovery and selection for this step.

NUTS AND BOLTS: Application performance managemement

FEATURED PRODUCT COMPUWARE VANTAGE 10ABOUT THIS ROLLING REVIEWApplication performance managemement products are being tested at our Real-World Labs at Windward Consulting Group. We're assessing the breadth of support for existing applications, how well the product detects and reports on performance problems, how well the architecture supports distributed application performance monitoring and whether the software supports a tiered architecture with native high-availability and failover capabilities. We'll also explore how well the offering detects the true performance issue and how seamlessly it integrates with the surrounding environment. ALREADY TESTED:NetIQ, NetQoS OTHER VENDORS INVITED:BMC, CA/Wily, Compuware, HP/Mercury, EMC/SMARTS, IBM, Infovista, NetScout, Network General, Oracle, ProactiveNet, Quest Software, and SymantecTHE PREMISEInformation Week's Rolling Reviews present a comprehensive look at a hot technology category, beginning with market analysis and wrapping up with a synopsis of our findings. See our kickoff and other reviews in this database extrusion detection/prevention series at

Michael Biddick and Bill Driscoll are with Windward Consulting Group, a firm that helps organizations improve it operational efficiency. Michael is also contributing editor for Network Computing/Information Week. Write to him at [email protected].0

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