The monitoring of Web services

Monitoring the performance of distributed systems remains one of the great challenges for IT managers today -- one that has only intensified with the advent of Web services. According to Diane Hagglund, director of product marketing at Freshwater Software, the evolution of enterprise systems away from the client/server model to the highly distributed systems typical of Web services infrastructures is causing a shift in monitoring paradigms to support the underlying architecture.

In this highly distributed environment, Hagglund said, the so-called agentless monitoring model is ''removing a huge stumbling block to the realization of the promise of Web services,'' giving IT managers the ability to keep track of software that, essentially, they cannot control.

''As IT operations groups are asked to become more efficient with their resources, it is important that they choose a monitoring solution that will deploy quickly and have a low cost of maintenance,'' Hagglund said. ''Today's distributed applications provide native mechanisms to system metrics and no longer require costly maintenance of agents on the system, making an agentless model the true next-generation of monitoring.''

Boulder, Colo.-based Freshwater, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercury Interactive, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based maker of performance testing and analysis tools, is offering its own agentless monitoring solution that is based on Freshwater-built technology. Freshwater officials say the firm's new SiteScope 7.6 is based on what it calls an agentless monitoring architecture that can allow users to monitor a system's entire infrastructure remotely from a single, non-intrusive location. The new tool is said to support all of the key Web services standards, including SOAP, Dynamic WSDL invocations and XML Schema complex data types. It can send alerts to execute a Web service automatically, summon diagnostic Web service when a base Web service fails, and monitor 65 other infrastructure components and applications.

Company officials contend that the agentless model maps well to Web services, which assumes a boundary-less infrastructure and a dynamic nature that requires a flexible and fluid architecture.

SiteScope 7.6 is available immediately. Pricing for the new version of the product starts at $2,995. A free evaluation copy can be downloaded at

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at


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