From time to time, I like to speak with someone actually using a supplier’s products. This time, I had a chance to communicate with an IT administrator who is using Nastel TransactionWorks and AutoPilot M6 and get some real world information. This person wanted not to be personally identified and preferred not to have his company identified either.

Please introduce your self and your organization (this can be merely a title and a description of the industry and location of the company):
I am a Senior Middleware Administrator at a major financial services information firm, located in New York.

What are you doing that needed this type of technology?
There are a number of product lines within the company that rely on WebSphere MQ, the de facto industry standard for assured message exchange and recovery, to exchange data internally and to connect to external customer systems. We rely on Nastel AutoPilot M6 to provide early warning of application performance problems. These issues include connectivity and data flow issues through:

  • queue manager generated events
  • error conditions based on business rules
  • trend analysis
  • real-time reporting by applications

We are integrating Nastel TransactionWorks, a business transaction management product into our production environment to provide transaction and message-level trace and audit-ability throughout all our WebSphere MQ users, including all the applications in the transaction flow.

What products did you consider before making a selection?
Our company has been a Nastel AutoPilot customer for 7 years. We considered Omegamon which was a Candle product at the time and is now owned by IBM. We also considered MQ Software Q-Pasa which is now owned by BMC.

Why did you select this product?
I determined Nastel AutoPilot to be the most flexible WebSphere MQ monitoring solution for distributed systems, based primarily on its ability to:

  • support current releases of WebSphere MQ
  • integrate facts and status from products other than WebSphere MQ, particularly jBoss and the Oracle Database
  • integration with HP Operation Center (at the time called OpenView)
  • integrate facts from local applications
  • provide complex event processing and analyses
  • maintain historical data for trend analysis

As a software systems engineer, I was impressed by the obvious significant engineering efforts expended to build a solid, cross-platform product. Other products reviewed at that time were stronger on the front-end presentation and weaker in the back-end processing engines; Nastel AutoPilot demonstrated itself to incorporate the most flexible and robust back-end complex event processor for distributed systems.

What tangible benefits have you received through the use of this product?
We prevented an outage with a major partner that provides support and services to many of our customers. Nastel AutoPilot with its built in complex event processing engine alerted us to connection errors and queue backlogs, leading us to proactively initiate connection to the partner’s alternate production site. We averted a possibly prolonged production outage without the customers being aware. Our partner detected their outage only when their monitors reported our connections to their alternate system. In addition, with the advanced warning provided by Nastel AutoPilot, application support groups were immediately aware of the failover, allowing them to quickly confirm client-facing applications were all operating properly and well within SLA limits.

Nastel AutoPilot continually alerts our support teams to internal issues, including processing delays and outages, and enables us to maintain a level of response our customers expect from our expanding service.

What advice would you offer others facing similar circumstances?
First, I would suggest they ensure they have a clear and in-depth understanding of their requirements. There are lots products on the market. Remember a solution that monitors messaging middleware doesn’t stand alone. Almost always it is integrated with other monitoring solutions and data sources. It needs to have the flexibility to do this easily and without reprogramming your applications. Next, it also must be able to scale and grow linearly as the messaging and transactional traffic of the application grows. Finally, notification after users are impacted is not the most desired state. Better would be proactive notification that lets us take action before impact to users and business processes and in effect, prevent problems. Nastel AutoPilot was able to deliver these capabilities to us.