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Introduction to System Management

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While developing a messaging solution is no easy task, operating such a solution in production is equally challenging: A message-based integration solution may produce, route and transform thousands or even millions of messages in a day. We have to deal with exceptions, performance bottlenecks and changes in the participating systems. To make things ever more challenging, components are distributed across many platforms and machines that can reside at multiple locations.

Besides the inherent complexities and scale of integrating distributed packaged and custom applications, the architectural benefits of loose coupling actually make testing and debugging a system harder. Martin Fowler refers to this as the "Architect's dream, Developer's nightmare" symptom: architectural principles of loose coupling and indirection reduce the assumptions systems make about each other and therefore provide flexibility. However, testing a system where a message producer is not aware of who the consumers of this message are, can be challenging. Add to that the asynchronous and temporal aspects of messaging and things get even more complicated. For example, the messaging solution may not even be designed for the message producer to receive a reply message from the recipient(s). Likewise, the messaging infrastructure typically guarantees the delivery of the message but not the delivery time. This makes it hard to develop test cases that rely on the results of the message delivery.

When monitoring a message solution, we can track message at two different levels of abstraction. A typical System Management solution monitors how many messages are being sent or how long it took a message to be processed. These monitoring solutions do not inspect the message data except maybe for some fields in the message header such as the message identifier or the Message History. In contrast, Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) solutions focus on the payload data contained in the message, for example the Dollar value of all orders placed in the last hour. Many of the patterns presented in this section are general enough that they can be used for either purpose. However, because business activity monitoring is a whole new field in itself and shares many complexities with data warehousing (something we have not touched on at all), we decided to discuss the patterns in the context of system management.

System Management patterns are designed to address these requirements and provide the tools to keep a complex message-based system running. We divided this chapter into three sections:

Monitoring and Controlling

A Control Bus provides a single point of control to manage and monitor a distributed solution. It connects multiple components to a central management console that can display the status of each component and monitor message traffic through the components. The console can also be used to send control commands to components, e.g. to change the message flow.

We may want to route messages through additional steps, such as validation or logging. Because these steps can introduce performance overheads, we may want to be able to switch them on and off via the control bus. A Detour gives us this ability.

Observing and Analyzing Message Traffic

Sometimes we need to want to inspect the contents of a message without affecting the primary message flow. A Wire Tap allows us to tap into message traffic.

When we debug a message-based system, is is a great aid to know where a specific message has been. The Message History provides this capability without introducing dependencies between components.

While the Message History is tied to an individual message, a central Message Store can provide a complete account of every message that traveled through the system. Combined with the Message History the Message Store can analyze all possible paths messages can take through the system.

The Wire Tap, Message History, and Message Store help us analyze the asynchronous flow of a message. In order to track messages sent to request-reply services, we need to insert a Smart Proxy into the message stream.

Testing and Debugging

Testing a messaging system before deploying it into production is a good idea. But testing should not stop there. You should be actively verifying that the running messaging system is functioning properly. You can do this by periodically injecting a Test Message into the system and verifying the results.

When a component fails or misbehaves, it is easy to end up with unwanted messages on a channel. During testing it is very useful to remove all remaining messages from a channel so that the components under test do not receive 'leftover' messages. A Channel Purger does that for us.


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Table of Contents
Revision History
Preface
Introduction
Solving Integration Problems using Patterns
Integration Styles
File Transfer
Shared Database
Remote Procedure Invocation
Messaging
Messaging Systems
Message Channel
Message
Pipes and Filters
Message Router
Message Translator
Message Endpoint
Messaging Channels
Point-to-Point Channel
Publish-Subscribe Channel
Datatype Channel
Invalid Message Channel
Dead Letter Channel
Guaranteed Delivery
Channel Adapter
Messaging Bridge
Message Bus
Message Construction
Command Message
Document Message
Event Message
Request-Reply
Return Address
Correlation Identifier
Message Sequence
Message Expiration
Format Indicator
Interlude: Simple Messaging
JMS Request/Reply Example
.NET Request/Reply Example
JMS Publish/Subscribe Example
Message Routing
Content-Based Router
Message Filter
Dynamic Router
Recipient List
Splitter
Aggregator
Resequencer
Composed Msg. Processor
Scatter-Gather
Routing Slip
Process Manager
Message Broker
Message Transformation
Envelope Wrapper
Content Enricher
Content Filter
Claim Check
Normalizer
Canonical Data Model
Interlude: Composed Messaging
Synchronous (Web Services)
Asynchronous (MSMQ)
Asynchronous (TIBCO)
Messaging Endpoints
Messaging Gateway
Messaging Mapper
Transactional Client
Polling Consumer
Event-Driven Consumer
Competing Consumers
Message Dispatcher
Selective Consumer
Durable Subscriber
Idempotent Receiver
Service Activator
System Management
Control Bus
Detour
Wire Tap
Message History
Message Store
Smart Proxy
Test Message
Channel Purger
Interlude: Systems Management Example
Instrumenting Loan Broker
Integration Patterns in Practice
Case Study: Bond Trading System
Concluding Remarks
Emerging Standards
Appendices
Bibliography