In today’s complex and integrated environments, the ability to determine the “health” of an application quickly assumes high importance. The IBM Health Center is a light-weight profiling tool that provides a comprehensive view of the “health” of various subsystems for any Java based application.
Developers, performance engineers and practitioners can use the IBM Health Center tool to quickly identify any performance bottlenecks which is specifically helpful in an agile development environment. Designed to attach to a running Java process to explore what it is doing, how it is behaving, and what you could do to make it happier.
The IBM Health Center attempts to answer some of the following common questions that developers, performance engineers, service personnel and WebSphere administrators often ask:-
What is my Java application doing ?
Why is it doing that ?
Why is my application going so slowly ?
How can I make it go faster ? Is my application scaling well ?
Is our algorithm sensible ?
Do we need to tune the Java Virtual Machine ?
Is my configuration sensible ?
Is the system stable ?
Have I got a memory leak ?
Is the application about to crash ?
Classes, Environment, Garbage Collection, Locking and Method Profiling, Native Memory, I/O are areas of JVM activity which can be viewed and receive recommendations on, from the Health Center tool. The Health Center summary will indicate if there are any potential problems with the particular subsystem (indicated in Red color), or tuning suggestions for optimizing the subsystem further (indicated in Amber) and an indication of a healthy subsystem (with no problems) denoted in Green color
The IBM Health Center not only provides a visualization into the various subsystems of the JVM from a performance and reliability perspective but also provides a set of recommendations that can be applied to alleviate the identified problems. The performance overhead of the tool is negligible and can be deployed on production systems.
The IBM Health Center is available via the IBM Support Assistant framework. (www.ibm.com/software/support/isa/ )
The latest version of Health Center (version 1.3) comes with some very useful new features. Options are available now in Health Center for you to generate dumps (Heap Dump, System Dump and Java Dump) at Runtime for more detailed analysis. For example, if the Health Center reports increasing heap usage over time and indicates a possible memory leak, you can generate a Heap Dump for further offline analysis.
Health Center 1.3 now supports enablement of native trace points and the ability to disabling systems selectively to configure data collection to only monitor areas of interest.
An interesting youtube video providing a quick introduction to IBM Health Center: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Tcktcl0qxs
The next couple of blog posts on this subject will cover the steps to install and launching the IBM Health Center and a detailed description of the various subsystems it profiles and provides recommendations on.