Business Transaction Management
I’d like to share my vision and definition for what I feel best describes Business Transaction Management (BTM). I’ve started this new page to track this emerging area, value proposition, marketplace, vendors and technology approaches. I’m planning a series of BTM oriented guest authors and podcasts as well as deeper dives into BTM as it relates to my emerging BSM Value Proposition model for 2009. Feel free to join in the conversation!
My intro to BTM podcast talking points…
My thoughts have recently been focused on how to define and standardize the discussion on Business Service Management (BSM) and to establish a clearer and broader understanding of the BSM Value Proposition. This is an area I plan to put much emphasis into throughout 2009.
A key component of my current thinking on this BSM Value Proposition is this area called Business Transaction Management (BTM).
Through a series of podcasts, guest authors and other conversations, I hope to establish a solid understanding on what this emerging area of BTM is and how it will play a pivotal role in any companies maturing and value oriented BSM strategy.
I’d like to share my vision and definition for what I feel best describes Business Transaction Management (BTM) as I see and understand it today. As I learn more, I’m sure my thinking will mature and change.
First off, let’s talk about just what a transaction is. Here’s my current working definition.
Transactions are one of, if not the most, critical components of how IT supports the business in meeting business goals and objectives.
They are the simple and complex entities that get work done. They are the “movers and shakers” within the IT environment that are actively responding to client or business requests via the business services and applications that IT delivers.
They move key data and information between infrastructure components that make up complex end-to-end business services and applications that exist in nearly every company today.
There are many common types of transactions and transactional architectures deployed by IT to support getting things done within companies today.
* These include the most common n-Tier (web, appsvr, db) transactions
* The much hyped Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) approach,
* The tried and true mainstay of Mainframe (CICS, IMS) based transactions
* I’m sure many others could be added to this list in the EAI, Complex Application, Web, J2EE, Mainframe or Network Service Provider areas.
I also like to bundle into this area something that’s likely not often thought of when we discuss types of transactions or transactional architectures and that’s the area of transactional based Workload Management (Batch Job/CRON) and Managed File Transfer (FTP/SFTP/SCP) type solutions.
These technology areas have a very transactional based nature and are often responsible for getting some of the most high value units of work done within a typical enterprise. They should not be forgotten from any modern day or leading edge BTM solution.
What is Business Transaction Management?
My views for business transaction management span all of the above and focuses on the following types of BTM activities.
The business transaction management marketplace has vendors focused on one or more of these areas.
Hopefully we can establish a uniform way to classify vendors and their technology, products and solutions into these or other categories.
Transaction Discovery and Inventory –
This BTM area focuses on techniques for discovering transactions – whether active, passive, configured, scheduled, or in-flight
Discovered transactions are then used for the purposes of establishing relationships between dependent systems, applications, databases, components, etc.
Transaction discovery techniques, relationship and/or dependency models and associated inventories would be used to extend a configuration management system, database (CMDB), asset management system or other such authoritative source.
Ideally, and extremely critical to BSM would be the use and application of this capability to establish the finite business relationships each transaction has, how it supports a business service, application or other unit of work, the impact if the transaction fails, blocks, queues, is slow, etc.
Transaction Tracing –
This BTM area is heavily focused on in-flight transactions, transaction flows and paths, transaction tuning and optimization, transaction troubleshooting, complex transaction relationships with other systems applications databases.
This functional area would includes transaction latency tracking, timing and profiling across the end-to-end path.
The transaction tracing function would incorporate “stitching” of transaction stub or transaction fragments that have been discovered into their representative end-to-end transactions as seen from the higher order business service, application, process, activity, etc.
Transaction Monitoring –
This BTM area is focused on monitoring every aspect of the transaction/
* E2E timings
* Step timings (C-N-S)
* Query, Call, etc. timings
This section includes latency monitoring, an area of critical importance in many financial and trading environments.
Transaction Intelligence and Analytics –
This BTM area focuses on the application of sophisticated analytics to transactions to learn, monitor and manage transactions with applied intelligence.
This is often seen in the financial and telecommunications industry as money laundering, credit card or other fraud or abuse of services/networks or similar solutions aimed at watching for patterns of activity or behavior as seen in transactional activity.
The Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) and Business Process Management (BPM) areas are also very focused on using transaction intelligence and analytics to drive the business, make better decisions and respond to changing conditions in the business environment.
Amber Point recently released something that sounds very powerful called the Transaction Search Engine. This could be a very useful feature within the typical IT organization. More insight announced in their PR here.
Transaction Management –
A general term, focused on all of these areas. I consider a Transaction Management solution as one that provides capabilities across all of these areas rather than just one or two.
Some thought leaders in this area of BTM have expressed views of collapsing elements of Application Performance Management (APM) or User Experience Management (UEM) into their BTM strategy and vision.
Why does BTM matter???
I think BTM matters because the transactions are the things that get stuff done in business. Oracle, SAP or your custom mainframe application don’t enable the business to meet their goals and objectives just sitting there. It’s the integration of and orchestration of transactions between these components throughout the IT organization that enable the business to meet their goals and objectives through the business services, applications, processes, activities, workloads, batch jobs, etc.
It doesn’t matter if you have vendor x, y or z software, application, database, etc. they could all be black boxes. It’s the transactions that flow in and out of those things, those finite units of work that are the backbone of every business.
The future will be filled with clouds or generic compute capability full of loosely coupled services, interfaces, and transaction pipelines to get work done.
Things we know today as webservers, application servers, database servers, etc. will all be commodity black boxes in the future and we’ll program against API’s or other loosely coupled interfaces to accomplish work or move data and information between the IT environments.
The IT organization of the future may just be a few “Joe the Plumbers” who are experts in this digital plumbing and transactional pipes and pathways throughout other public or private clouds or compute resources.
Understanding the performance, availability, capacity, reliability, and impact of these transactions on the business, services, applications or other systems or components is critical just as it has been for understanding the same from the traditional IT infrastructure that enables them.
The level of understanding impact that transactions can have on the business must not be limited that of the typical IT organization, application or integration architect, developer or administrator.
Transactions and their impact must be easily understood by the folks on the front line, within IT management and the line of business.
Every transaction’s contribution to the bottom line or impact on a higher or lower level system, interface or business goal or objective must be thoroughly understood.
BTM must be a key strategy that companies must invest in to ensure that the needs of the business are being met.
BTM is a “must have” component of any company’s overall BSM strategy and for the broader BSM Value Proposition. As I said, if you’re not investing in BTM and incorporating it into your overall BSM strategy, you’re not likely to get strategic value from BSM.
Folks, it’s simple. Transactions that don’t complete, fail, slow down, queue up, hit a bottleneck, etc. will impact the business in significant ways. Batch jobs or other file transfers that don’t complete can cost companies in many industries large fines and penalties, lost revenue, botched orders, and ultimately upset customers or business partners. Managing end-to-end transaction flow and user experience could easily be said to be much more important than anything else you do in the network/systems/application management & monitoring area.
How important are transactions in your environment? What are you doing to increase your ability to think, operate and respond differently by deploying transaction management within your organization?
BTM Blog Posts and Podcasts
HOT! BTM Industry Portal
BTM Podcast: Architecture and Deployment Planning for IBM Tivoli ITCAM for Transactions v7.1 with Gulf Breeze Software Part 2
BTM Podcast: Architecture and Deployment Planning for IBM Tivoli ITCAM for Transactions v7.1 with IBM Software Services for Tivoli SWAT Part 1
Is the real BTM market story about the consolidation of *Transaction Management, Application Performance Management (APM), Application Discovery and Mapping (ADM) and User Experience Mangaement?
Is BTM the “Next Generation in Application Performance Management”?
Is it possible to have one platform to span all of these areas?
Broad and Shallow versus Narrow and Deep approach to BTM?
How to leverage other platform, tool, application investments?
Business Transaction Performance (BTP)
Transaction Performance Management (TPM)
Types of Transactions
n-Tier (web, appsvr, db)
SOA, EAI, Bus/PubSub, Messaging
Mainframe (CICS, IMS)
Batch Job/CRON, Workload Mgmt
Managed File Transfer (FTP/SFTP/SCP)
Financial (money laundering, fraud, revenue assurance)
Blogs or other sites of interest
Industry Coverage on BTM
Graciously copied from Alon’s blog here to get the content started here in this critical area.
Now, since this is a relatively new term that lacks a formal definition, we here at the BTM blog 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.
BMC – Ziff Davis Media Survey
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 – E-Commerce Times Article
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 chart 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.”
Help Create a Definition for Business Transaction Management
Defining this term should not be a “one Blog job”, help give this term a formal definition by leaving a comment. We at the Business Transaction Management blog will propose a definition in a future post. Join in Alon’s conversation here.
Alon’s vendor list:
CA Wily Introscope
Correlix Latency Intelligence
IBM Tivoli ITCAM for Transactions
BMC Transaction Management
Amberpoint Transaction Tracking
* Doug’s additions above or below:
I have a list of SOA Monitoring tools on my blog someplace!!
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