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How can a Web service best be monitored for faults, availability and performance?

How can a Web service best be monitored for faults, availability and performance?
Web services architectures require a different way of thinking about management and monitoring. For example, Web services systems are meant to be distributed, heterogeneous systems comprised of components you build, components you acquire and external components you access (such as a partner's Web service). You need to be able to monitor all these services, even ones that are "managed" by another party and running outside of your control. That's one reason why there's a new breed of management solutions specifically designed for Web services. These solutions monitor the services by observing message traffic. In this way, the monitoring system does not have to be part of the services being monitored (which is difficult to do if the service is run by another organization).

There are several management/monitoring solutions available today. Here are a few things, in addition to the monitoring architecture, a few things to keep in mind when evaluating them:

  1. Your management solution should be non-invasive. It should integrate seamlessly into any Web services environment without requiring additional coding to the Web services themselves.
  2. Monitoring your systems is important, but with Web services management you also have the opportunity to proactively manage your system. Your Web services manager should play an active role in system health by doing things like load balancing, failover and notifications in response to system and business conditions.
  3. Thanks to the rich payloads of information that come with XML messages, Web services give you the chance to leverage the content of the messages themselves. That means you can do interesting things, such as directing requests from Platinum customers to high-performance services or alerting a business manager every time an order greater than a million dollars comes in. Web services management opens new opportunities to improve business operations.

This was first published in December 2002

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