Catching up with summertime enterprise software news, I spoke on September 10 with Oren Elias, CEO of Correlsense, about the SharePath product the four-year-old startup rolled out on August 8. It was the business transaction management (BTM) marketing term in the press release that caught my eye. And even though Oren didn't mean it exactly the way I had thought, it does not mean Correlsense couldn't get where I thought it was going some day.
To be fair, let me start with Correlsense's meaning of BTM since it's Correlsense's product. SharePath is designed to enhance
"IT reliability by tracing business transactions across all their hops -- from a click by the end-user, through all the data center layers and applications and back to the end-user."
When Correlsense was founded in 2005, its initial idea was to improve on traditional systems/performance management by getting an understanding of transactions rather than components, which is what systems management software is usually all about. The idea was to provide a metric to be used in analyzing application performance in the same way response time is used to measure end-user experience.
But, Oren says "the data wasn't there." Some systems or applications spit out CPU metrics every five minutes or did some occasional statistical sampling or provided heavily aggregated data, log analysis or time-series data. So Correlsense had to figure out a way to capture all transaction data first before it could even get to its big idea. Correlsense says that via SharePath, every single transaction and activation is recorded and correlated to provide
"both a birds-eye and detailed view of the connections across the four dimensions of end-users, applications, infrastructure and business processes, enabling full accountability of every single action within every single application."
Data is collected (including topology auto-discovery and inter-dependencies) enabling IT organizations to better manage service level agreements (SLAs), performance, capacity, and do automatic root cause analysis. The data can also be used for auditing and archiving, security and capacity planning, change management, population of configuration management databases, and chargebacks. SharePath is deployed on all the logical components that an application uses in a production environment such as proxies, Web servers, application servers, databases, LDAP servers, queue managers, and so forth. Additionally, SharePath is said to let customers manage any programming environment, application server, Web server and database from the bottom up using the same collection technology across all architecture component brand releases and versions.
Out-of-the-box interaction with "open technology" such as IBM portal is included but packaged support for higher-level applications such as SAP ERP is still to come. These capabilities make it useful to support private cloud computing, or to partner with public cloud vendors and others to whom SLAs are important
Given the way it is positioned, I think SharePath will be used initially to help manage infrastructure, the way traditional systems management software does. But it is the business processes management (BPM) angle that intrigues me. If the product does what it says it does for infrastructure, I see no reason why it cannot do it for business processes as well. My idea is to use BTM to support BPM and BI mashups that enable intelligent process automation. For BPM to be the success I think it can be, enterprises need to get more and more of the human interaction out of the process flow. To do that, the BPM software needs to know what is happening upstream and make decisions on its own how to route the flow downstream. That's what I think BTM can bring to the party. Just sending your purchasing manager or vacation scheduler an e-mail telling them the flow is on hold until they act is not really BPM.
So I'll be keeping an eye on the BTM idea from a BPM perspective. In the meantime, you might want to look at BTM and SharePath the next time you are looking to upgrade your systems management functionality.