Transaction Monitoring Software: Jargon Proliferation

lanir-shachamThis article on the jargon proliferation within the transaction monitoring discipline reviews common phrases used today to describe how to link business and IT.

There are several ways to trace a transaction. Although different approaches to transaction tracing may yield different outcomes, no matter how you do it, you should be able to trace a transaction completely, from end-to-end.

This can be confusing. Why should monitoring for transaction performance mean something different with every approach? The reason is that the rather nascent transaction monitoring software discipline is still in the “early adopter” phase, not unlike Blu-ray vs. HD DVD.

Monitoring for transaction performance is a clear next step for many enterprises, but when it actually comes to putting a transaction monitoring system in place, it is very hard for many IT professionals to understand the value proposition.

Transaction Monitor? Transaction Trace?
Several buzzwords get tossed around these days describing transaction monitoring software. Interestingly, there is often no link whatsoever between the buzzword and the actual technology; vendors that use the same words to describe their products can have completely different offerings at the end of the day, as we reviewed in this article, “Transaction Monitoring – the Four Approaches.”

It is also interesting to see that the words “monitor” and “trace” are synonyms in English, and in fact, it seems as though “transaction monitor” and “transaction trace” are used pretty much interchangeably in the industry. However, when you really think about it, they can mean different things. The only place where it seems that transaction tracing and transaction monitoring have been defined side-by-side is at Doug Mcclure’s blog. Intuitively, you could define transaction tracing as the topology of the transaction (over the different tiers of the infrastructure) and that transaction monitoring includes all of the metrics of that transaction (i.e., events summoned and resource consumption).

Why Monitor Transactions?

Monitoring and tracing transactions is the way to link business and IT.

The “business” is the user initiating transaction activations—clicking on the “add to shopping cart” button or performing a stock trade, for example. The majority of interactions between the user and the UI (be it a Web page or desktop application) create transactions. The business depends on these transactions, and since the business has spent, in most cases, millions of dollars to allow users to perform these transactions, not only should they work, but they should do so within a time that the user is willing to wait. Time is money, after all.

The “IT” is everything the infrastructure does in executing a transaction. A good example is that annoying SQL statement that has just caused the application to hang because it was activated 100,000 times. Without the link, the database administrator is going to have a tough time figuring out how to keep the problem from occurring again. With the link, that single statement is now tied to a specific transaction and user. All the way from the back end, the DBA can understand the business impact of the statements, because she knows exactly what the intent of the user was and how long it took to complete the transaction from end to end.

Transaction Monitoring with SharePath
SharePath links every transaction to all of the events that the transaction invoked within the infrastructure, giving you the power to link your business with your IT and to proactively ensure that each customer is satisfied.