Actional Corporation, the Web services management market-share leader, announced the availability of Web services "watchdogs," which provide advanced capabilities for monitoring end-to-end availability and performance of Web services. A new feature, unique to Actional Looking Glass, Actional watchdogs enable organizations to identify and prevent potential service failures by automatically and proactively checking service availability and performance. Actional watchdogs interoperate with Actional's policy and service stabilizer capabilities, helping IT operators to ensure the ready state of the Web services network, discover problems and trigger workarounds to avoid business disruption.

"Web services applications are coming of age and are proliferating throughout the organization as a result. While the highly distributed, interconnected nature of service-oriented environments enhances business agility, the amount of unforeseen availability and performance glitches will increase," said Jasmine Noel, principal analyst, Ptak, Noel & Associates. "Monitoring end-user availability and performance of a service-oriented environment is absolutely critical for the enterprise to truly capitalize on its new agility. Actional is taking Web services management to a new level with their new watchdog tools that proactively monitor Web services from a customer perspective."

Actional watchdogs, under the direction of the Looking Glass management and policy server, proactively generate synthetic transactions to check the availability and performance of a service. The watchdogs ping each service, effectively asking, "Are you there?" and thereby determining that everything is "alive" within the service network, even if a particular service is not in use at that time.

Further, Actional watchdogs can be implemented to ensure that end-user expectations are being met throughout the organization. By running a watchdog at designated end-user sites, organizations can measure the service performance from the perspective of the user, ensuring that response times are acceptable and within agreed-upon service levels.

With Actional watchdogs, if a service goes offline or service performance degrades, Actional operators are notified immediately so they are able to respond before end users are affected by the failure. Watchdogs can also be tied to performance and availability policy within the Looking Glass Server. For example, if the watchdogs report operating conditions in the network that violate policy, Actional's service stabilizers can be automatically activated and trigger a predefined workaround for that particular performance or availability issue until the root cause problem can be resolved. As Actional watchdog targets appear as components on the Looking Glass "service flow map," they are able to provide a deeper level of root cause analysis for service network problems. All watchdogs throughout the network can be centrally managed and deployed from a single Looking Glass console.

"Our customers are looking for ways to improve the reliability and decrease the risks associated with distributed service-based application environments," said Dan Foody, chief technology officer, Actional Corporation. "Actional continues to offer innovations such as Actional watchdogs, helping companies to minimize service failures and business disruptions while ensuring maximum levels of responsiveness and performance."

Actional's watchdog capabilities are included in Actional Looking Glass and currently available for .NET. They will be available for J2EE environments in early Q2.

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