Initial impressions of IBM's new cloud consumer focused APM product

by bluemedora_editor on February 17, 2013

In this blog post I’ll be demonstrating how to install, configure, and view data in a new IBM produced monitoring solution — all in under 5 minutes flat after downloading the installation media.

About IBM SmartCloud Monitoring Application Insight

At Blue Medora we’ve been watching carefully, as over the past 6 months, IBM has fairly quietly released 5 distinct beta drops of IBM SmartCloud Monitoring Application Insight (SCMAI)– the product IBM Tivoli had, until recently, been calling IBM Tivoli Cloud Consumer Monitoring (CCM). The latest beta drop, Milestone 5, is one that we’ve recently installed here in the Blue Medora lab and before the absolute shock of how little time and effort it actually took to get SCMAI up and running and returning data wears off, I wanted to blog about the experience. The product is remarkable in it’s simplicity — at least as compared to any other monitoring solution you’ve ever seen from Tivoli before.  There are exactly two downloadable installable media files — one is the SCMAI management server (called the “Fabric”) and the other is an agent (called the “Consumer Node”) that is intended to be embedded into the base VM image for workloads you are running within VMware vSphere, Amazon EC2, and IBM’s own SmartCloud. In general, SCMAI looks to be aimed at a slightly different customer set that Tivoli’s traditional APM offerings — particularly MSPs as well as companies where a full blown installation of IBM’s flagship IBM Tivoli Monitoring (ITM) and IBM Tivoli Composite Application Manager (ITCAM) application suites isn’t ideal for those customers for various reasons.   Our view is with SCMAI, IBM is squarely placing Manage Engine, Solarwinds, and CA Nimsoft within it’s sights. In future blog posts, we’ll be digging into SCMAI in more detail.  In this blog post, I’ve simply included a pair of videos where I demonstrate how, within 5 minutes, I was able to install and configure it as well as log into the management service and be to actually consume the data.  The steps I followed, at a high level, were as follows:

  • Install the  IBM SmartCloud Monitoring Application Insight “agent” on a Amazon AWS based EC2 Instance
  • Install the SCMAI Insight management service (what Tivoli calls the “Fabric) on a CentOS (binary compatible RHEL clone) running within our Blue Medora lab test lab
  • Configure the Fabric server to connect to Amazon AWS
  • Log into the SCMAI web console and view health, availability, and performance of our Amazon EC2 instance

Install the Consumer “agent” on a Amazon EC2 instance

In the video below, you’ll find it took a grand total of 70 seconds to launch the AWS console, connect to an EC2 instance running within AWS, and install the SCMAI monitoring agent.   Couple of things to note about this video:

  1. The actual EC2 instance was created prior to the time the video was created.  It’s the standard AWS basic RHEL63U3 64-bit image
  2. Per the SCMAI documentation I configured AWS to allow communications on port 1920 through to the EC2 instance
  3. I modified the ipchains firewall rules within the EC2 instance to allow communications on port 1920
  4. Prior to capturing this video, I installed the RHEL pre-requisite per the the SCMAI documentation.  Alternatively you can you “yum install” on RHEL systems and have yum install the pre-reqs for you at SCMAI agent install time
  5. After I completed steps 3,4, and 5 above but before I installed SCMAI, I shutdown the VM and created a base Amazon AWS EC2 AMI so that all of those changes would be incorporated into any new EC2 based VMs I created in the future and they’ll automatically be “SCMAI Ready”

 

That’s it!  Once Yum completes installing the RPM, the agent is already running on the Consumer VM.  There is nothing else to do. It actually took less than 1 minute from start to finish to install the SCMAI agent on our Amazon EC2 based VM once we logged into the box.

Install the “Fabric package” management server

In the next video you’ll see the steps required to install the “Fabric” server — ie the management servers for SCMAI.  Before you get started you’ll want to review the documentation and make sure all the Linux pre-requisites are in place.

That’s it — less than 5 minutes to install the entire SCMAI product across two distinct servers.  Over the next few weeks well be posting a number of other SCMAI focused posts that will cover:

  • How this same SCMAI rapid install, configure, discover scenario works for VMware based environments
  • How to take the base Amazon AWS EC2 AMI I mentioned earlier that includes the  SCMAI agent and demonstrate how to spin up 25 Amazon EC2 instances, and without any configuration, show how the Fabric server automatically discovers them and makes them available via the management service
  • We’ll take a closer look at SCMAI’s integrated Web Application Response Time Tracking capability

 

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