Definition of Business Transaction Management

Now, since this is a relatively new term that lacks a formal definition, we here at the CS will attempt the audacious task of defining Business Transaction Management. Let us begin by taking a look at how Business Transaction Management has been defined across the industry.

BTM in Wikipedia
The first Wikipedia article that was written about Business Transaction Management was deleted a year ago because it was A ” Non-notable neologism about a freshly coined (”new category”) three letter acronym”. The current Wikipedia article is just a seed and needs some work.

BTM according to IDC Research
In their comprehensive technological assessment “Business Transaction Management: Another Step in the Evolution of IT Management”, Dan Yachin, the author of the paper, began the definition with a note on Bristol Technology and how their acquisition demonstrated the interest of major IT management vendors and then continued by stating that “BTM can be considered as bridging two major trends in the IT management space”. The two trends he lists are:

  1. “The need for more granular application management…”
  2. The need to manage from a business prospective

Another statement from IDC, that provides a more concise definition, to be noted is – “BTM is aimed at detecting and resolving problems at the granular level of interactions between IT elements that form a business transaction (e.g., online stock trade, travel booking).”

BTM according to EMA research
In their latest White Paper titled “Business Transaction Management for SOA Environments”, EMA – not unlike IDC – provides a vague definition of BTM. EMA states that their IT maturity models show that “…most enterprises still struggle with monitoring applications and services at the transaction level”. They also state that “Many business critical services remain a “black box” in terms of understanding transaction performance and failures”. In the line after this quote they state that EMA calls this discipline Business Performance Management.

Other EMA White Papers do not provide much of a definition other than; Business Transaction Management means to plan, monitor and control IT processes from a business prospective.

Business Transaction Tracing (BTM synonym) according to Gartner research
In their white paper titled “The Four Dimensions of Application Performance Monitoring Gartner labels “Business Transaction Flow Tracing” as one of the four “functionalities have emerged to circumvent some of the APM difficulties associated with modular, distributed, interdependent and context-sensitive applications”.

Will Cappelli leads off the definition by stating how when a problem with the availability of an application pops up, monitoring component-level health is less helpful when it comes to determining the root cause, and “Used in conjunction with an application dependency map, a report showing a cluster of component latency degradations could be used to guess at the source of the performance issue. More often than not, an insufficient number of components are instrumented and/or the topology plus performance degradation is too ambiguous to be helpful.”

Mr. Cappelli then continues to state that Business Transaction Tracing fills the Application Performance Management void that simply monitoring component-level health leaves by following these steps:

  • “First, members of the operations or application support team would be required to instrument path-critical components in the stack and infrastructure, supporting the application being monitored with what amount to sensors.”
  • “Second, they must define, package and mark a sequence of interactions at an application’s interface — defined as a “business transaction.” An instance is executed and the mark is passed through the application’s components as it is exercised and sensed, and progress of its path is reported on in real time or near real time. This makes it possible to trace a performance problem’s root cause, particularly when used in conjunction with health statistics gathered by the third type of APM functionality.”
  • “Finally, it would, once again, be prohibitive to place sensors on more than a few components. Thus, having a good application dependency map is critical to the effective deployment of this type of APM functionality.”

Once again, this is not a clear cut definition of Business Transaction Management, but another thing to think about when attempting to provide a definition.

BTM according to Vendors
Although most Vendors tend to list the benefits of Business Transaction Management as opposed to defining it for their clients, the definition may be inferred from these benefits.

In their White Paper “Transaction Management – the Next Step in Service Oriented IT”, an understanding of what Transaction Management needs to be was obtained through a survey of 1,190 technology decision makers. They concluded that Transaction Management systems need to – “…look across components in a sophisticated technology stack to determine how the pieces are involved in and contribute to complex business transactions”.

Optier does not really define BTM on their web site; rather they use the term as though it speaks for itself (valid point). Though their CTO, Amir Alon, wrote an article that gives a quasi definition, which essentially states that BTM provides transaction visibility, detects and resolves issues rapidly and assures that technology outages are connected to a business context. He also writes that BTM provides a real time record of all transactions which are to be mapped to the underlying infrastructure.

HP has a White Paper titled “What Happened to My Transaction” in which they define BTM by quoting IDC and giving their own explanations: “Business is conducted at the level of individual transactions—and IT needs visibility into and control over these transactions and their impact on business outcomes in order to properly support the larger organization it serves.”…”BTM helps IT understand how the components in the IT infrastructure relate to the business transactions they support.”

Correlsense begins its definition by providing a video that shows the Business Transaction Management approach in relation to traditional monitoring and continues by stating: “…Transaction Management tools view everything from an application perspective. In the world of transaction management, an application is considered as a collection of transactions and events, each triggering actions on the infrastructure. The goal is to track every transaction end to end and correlate to the information collected from the infrastructure.”

What are your thoughts on Business Transaction Management?