Cendura's Application Management Suite 2.1 Monitors Changes

Cendura can't undo the damage your enterprise software apps may experience, but it can tell you what happened.

April 28, 2004

5 Min Read
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You can create your own application blueprint by identifying its root file system, key configuration files and run-time logs. Cohesion then discovers it as a managed application. However, the product won't discover dependencies on other programs and libraries. That feature is in the works for version 3.0.

Once an application is discovered, it can be managed from a browser (Internet Explorer 5.5 SP1 or higher). From IE, you can "tail" log files and view output from diagnostics like iostat and netstat on Unix, and msinfo32 and ipconfig on Windows. Most important, you can take snapshots of configuration metadata and use them as reference points for change control.

Inside the Box

During my tests, Cohesion monitored changes to Windows and Solaris operating systems, IIS and Apache Web servers, and IBM WebSphere Application Servers 4x and 5x, using both default and custom-built blueprints. It even identified new virtual directories created in IIS. When changes occurred, it notified me via e-mail and SNMP alerts.

I found that Cohesion has some hefty requirements for memory (1,536 MB of RAM recommended) and disk space (more than 20 GB). Moreover, it needs its own database to store application information. The number of applications supported varies by server, application and file set.I gave Cohesion a dual Pentium III, 1,400-MHz platform (1,024 MB of RAM) with Windows 2000 SP4 and an MS-SQL Server 2000 database with plenty of disk space (30 GB). Cohesion can also use Oracle 8i or 9i, or any JDBC (Java Database Connectivity)-compliant database.

Installing the server code on Windows 2000 was a snap with Zero G's InstallAnywhere (5.5.1). Cohesion includes an Apache Tomcat server and a JVM (Java Virtual Machine) 1.4.1 to administer the server and manage applications with IE. The Tomcat includes all the necessary files to remotely install agents. The server also supplies a native directory for users and groups that supports different roles with full or partial access to administrative functions.

Rather than take the default, I set directory services to integrate with our Active Directory. Within minutes, the Windows domain administrators were Cohesion administrators. You also can use Sun Java System Directory Server.

Configure and Discover

To remotely install agents in the lab, I pointed to the admin tab in the GUI and selected the "Add Host" option. I was presented with a dialog box to input the target host, IP address and operating system. For Windows machines, you must run the installation as a domain administrator; for Unix, you need root, otherwise some diagnostic routines won't run from the Web interface.All agents require a JVM on the remote host. If you don't have one, you can elect to install a JVM (version 1.3.1) with the agent. During testing, Cohesion agents used 40 MB of disk space on Windows and ran as a service. On Solaris, agents ran as daemons from start-up scripts and took up 44 MB of disk space. I found that Unix agents can't be remotely installed unless both SSH and SFTP are running.



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After agents were installed, remote hosts became managed objects in Cohesion and were eligible for application discovery. I defined applications to manage on Solaris and Windows boxes using default blueprints for Apache, Cohesion Server, IBM WebSphere, IIS, JRE (Java Runtime Environment) 1.1 through 1.4, Solaris OS and Windows 2000 OS. I had to adjust the Apache blueprint for the installation that ships with Solaris 2.8 and 2.9. I also created a blueprint for our open-source development packages installed to the /opt file system.

Once our applications were ready, Cohesion instructed its agents to gather information from remote hosts through discovery. Agents discovered all our application blueprints across multiple hosts without taxing the systems. I set agents to run at low priority, using less than 2 percent CPU utilization. You can also schedule agents to run after business hours, or limit an agent's run-time length by seconds or minutes.Bird's-Eye Management

Once discovery was complete, our applications were ready for management in a tree view. I took separate snapshots of metadata for each application to use as reference points in case a configuration changed or the application failed to run. Next, I made changes to operating system files and configurations for Apache, IIS and WebSphere. I then took additional snapshots and ran reports to compare them.

Cohesion detected all our changes in Windows registries, as well as newer versions of system files and new virtual directories in IIS. It also found discreet changes to configuration files in Apache and WebSphere. For example, it identified the addition of an agent log in Apache and a WebSphere modification to a resource reference (res-auth).

I automated Cohesion to take regular snapshots, compare them with our reference configuration daily, and notify me of changes via e-mail or SNMP. Performance was flawless.

Bottom line: Cohesion does a good job monitoring changes in enterprise-application deployments. The product also makes it easy to manage applications from a Web browser. Although Cohesion can't roll back to a previous configuration as Winternal's Recovery Manager does, it can determine the root cause of software problems. In addition, it can help enforce standard configurations for servers across the enterprise, as well as verify data recovery from a tape archive.Sean Doherty is a technology editor and lawyer based at our Syracuse University Real-World Labs. Write to him at [email protected].

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