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Vantage point for .NET

Pushing code maintenance 80:20 towards 50:50

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Where would the world be without the "80:20 rule" and the IT industry's attempts to fix its many and varied applications?

Two fixes are being attempted with one package with the introduction of Compuware's implementation of Vantage for .NET at Microsoft's TechEd today.

Vantage is an established service management suite with a strong prediliction for bug-hunting in Java applications. But given the growing acceptance, on all sides, that the reality of enterprise environments will be a combination of Java and Microsoft's .NET, the appearance of a .NET version is likely to leave most apps developers with a sense of gratitude rather than surprise.

One 80:20 rule this aims to diffuse, if not remove, is that if a problem ever occurs in any system, 80 per cent of development staff will automatically blame the network rather than the applications.

Vantage has worked for some time with Java applications to monitor applications code and process flows in order to identify where code bottlenecks are to be found. The company has developed an agent for applications monitoring and instrumentation, which then reports its findings to a central server, which acts as co-ordinator for all agents on the system. The results are then communicated to a management suite and dashboard, which can give a clear indication of where a potential problem lies within applications code.

Given the inevitable position .NET-based applications will have in many enterprise environments, Compuware has now made the obvious move of building a .NET-compliant agent to monitor those applications as well. For IT managements, this then brings the advantage of tracking process flows between applications interoperating across Java and .NET.

According to Michael Allen, director of performance solutions at Compuware, this could have important bearings on resolving .NET/Java contentions, which could in turn be a significant bottleneck in the development of composite, loosely-coupled applications in a service-based environment.

It also, he suggested, has the potential to reduce the impact of another 80:20 Rule - the 80 per cent of IT budgets that is spent on applications maintenance.

"Development staff have enough trouble with their workload already," he said. "Java developers are already using Vantage as a stand-alone tool to identify problems - particularly intermittent ones found in a production environment. The only alternative is to use development tools to identify the problem, and that can bring a production environment to its knees."

To help speed up not only problem location but also resolution, Compuware has added an automated expert analysis tool to the package. This is built on the company's own problem resolution knowledge-base, which has been constructed by passing captured low-level user transactions though a visualisation system that assists company staff identify problems and relevant solutions.

"This has been available online, but the obvious evolution was to incorporate it and add an automated documentation system that reports identified problem areas and sets out possible solutions."

Developers, therefore, get a head start on where to find problems and what to do about them. ®

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