This post is contributed by Chad Lingmann, IBM Team Lead Messaging Integration Middleware.
In many large corporate environments today, middleware products are employed to move data from back-end systems to web front ends. By nature of its position in the flow of the data, a middleware product sits, well, in the middle. Being in the middle, middleware support teams are very often on the problem calls. Commonly, products like IBM MQ or IBM Integration Bus get the initial blame. But in my experience, if you have a healthy environment then middleware is not usually the root cause of an application's "slow performance."
- Have good people. Middleware support is complicated, and many other support teams often look to middleware support people to lead troubleshooting sessions and identify the cause of the problem. If you have excellent people who are dedicated to the success of the application and your client, then they are going to minimize the time wasted looking at middleware, whether or not the root of the problem is actually in the middleware component of the data flow.
- Ensure that any applications using middleware have completed end-to-end flow diagrams that demonstrate each step and stop in the flow of data. For example, here is a very simple diagram for MQ:
- Require that adequate and proper monitoring systems be available to application support teams that utilize middleware services. This includes up/down monitoring for servers, queue managers, brokers and web application processes. It should also include statistical information on processing times at each hop in the path.
- Do better analysis of root cause results for application slowness reports and failures. Most IT support performs some sort of "root cause" write-up, but is that information actually used? Ensure this data is available to support teams directly and those who manage trouble calls. Make review of this data part of the troubleshooting process, and when patterns of failure emerge, address them directly.
If you discover you need some help putting your middleware in order, check out the IBM Middleware Implementation - Rapid Deployment Services website and watch this short video. Also feel free to connect with me on Twitter @chadlingmann.
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