What is the context ?
Near the end of 1990's, the concept of
has been considered like the solution for the supervision of distributed systems and
These frameworks can be compared with
ERP's although their respective domains of application are different : their ambition is
to manage the whole information system through an integrated unique offer.
Since several months, many study groups
like Gartner Group or Meta Groups grants to make a mitigated balance on the usage of these
frameworks. The complexity of implementation of these platforms seems to have made indeed
fail close to 3 projects on 4. Besides, the very elevated costs of licenses and deployment
have limited such a solution perimeter to big companies.
Historically, the principles of network
supervision are older than those governing the frameworks and mainly based upon the SNMP
protocol (and its extensions). Numerous network monitoring offers are today available on
the market. That's why the editors leaders of the sector, conscious of the competitive
hazard that the frameworks represent, made their offer to evolve toward system and
applications monitoring. However, network supervision platforms do not constitute the
ideal basis for systems and application supervision.
Therefore, most users are today facing
a spiny problem : there is no available pragmatic approach for the global network, systems
and applications supervision and, with the international dimension of today's projects,
this supervision of distributed systems is becoming necessary and primordial and it
requires a wide panel of services :
Application management including deployment,
set-up, start, stop, hold/resume and configuration management (for instance, for
redundancy management purpose),
Network management including parameterisation and
performances (e.g. dynamic control of bandwidth allocation) and monitoring,
These services requirements lead to
have a set of independent software components designed in a distributed way using the
following technologies :
- the applications,
distributed on the remote sites,
- the groupware,
allowing the collaborative working,
- the middleware,
managing the distribution (like CORBA, HLA.),
- the synchronisation,
giving the same time reference to all the sites such as NTP,
- the security,
protecting the data transmission and access control to the resources,
- the network
management, using mainly SNMP,
- the network layer,
interconnecting the remote sites and the various equipment within a given site,
- the hardware
platforms, implementing the distributed system services.
What is the current situation ?
Today, the performance of information
systems directly governs company competitiveness, such is the report that can be pulled
from the evolution of the information technologies.
The supervision of the computer
infrastructure becomes therefore an element of vital importance for the whole set of
companies. In a context where is tangled closely with the information system to give
birth to , it has been necessary to erase the border between technology and business in
order to provide some indicators valuable for the company managers.
So, a convergence of the different
supervision offers has been observed toward a "single vision" consisting in an
enterprise type approach. This new tendency is related to the will of, on one hand, the
"systems supervision" solutions editors to open their products to the network
and, on the other hand, the "network supervision" developers to integrate in
their solutions a system monitoring.
But today, none of these available
solutions was specifically designed to fulfil its principal task: the global supervision
with an "enterprise" point of view. Historically, these solutions are mainly
proprietary, most of the time made of a pool of offers acquired by the mean of external
growth and aimed at covering a large functional scale.
Today, the supervision of distributed
systems is mainly done on a case by case basis and also mainly at independent technical
services levels. The distributed applications used on these systems are supervised in a
very limited way. Furthermore, the user-interface is often questionable as it requires
expert people and suffers from a lack of automation and user friendliness.
What is the GeneSyS added-value ?
An important innovation of the GeneSyS
concept is to adopt a universal approach for
the supervision of distributed systems. This design approach can be structured in three
main axis :
of a dedicated middleware to address the
communication problem between heterogeneous platforms
of standard interfaces for monitoring/controlling
services (systems, network, applications, QoS) to be plugged into the middleware
of standard interfaces for client applications
to use services plugged into the middleware
Then the GeneSyS project will conduct two
major evolutions in the field of distributed systems supervision :
- the introduction of a dedicated communication layer
for distributed systems supervision
- the specification of normalised data exchange between
supervision services on the network
The GeneSyS middleware
The purpose of the GeneSyS middleware is
to improve the communication infrastructure by introducing several new concepts :
- The generic aspect of the GeneSyS middleware solution,
- The development strategy as an open source project,
implementation of communications without
use of a central repository.
The generic aspect of the GeneSyS middleware will be
ensured by basing the communication infrastructure on IP level in order to be independent of the network
The open source initiative will offer several benefits
compared to standard commercial products which are mainly proprietary :
dissemination will be easier and a large audience can be expected with universities.
project will be supported by a large community of developers.
third party commercial supervision products can be integrated without usual
Most of existing middleware available on
the market are using the service of a central repository where resides all the information
about the nodes available on the network :
of a repository at a low level layer (means communication layer) produces a complex
management issues : dedicated servers, replication, synchronisation, fault tolerance. This
complexity is not needed while the major service expected is resumed in the establishment
of a communication from a point to another point of the network.
majority of third party supervision products are using a repository at application level :
a second level of repository would be useless.
This situation makes non appropriate the
use of these products for distributed systems supervision and confirms the interest for
the GeneSyS solution : GeneSyS middleware will provide simple "point to point"
and "publish and subscribe" mechanism without
the need of a global repository. This will guarantee maximum simplicity and efficiency
for exchanging information between any client applications.
The GeneSyS standard interfaces
The architecture of the GeneSyS system
requires the definition of interfaces at different levels.
First there is an instrumentation level
that enables a hardware device or software system to be integrated into the GeneSyS
monitoring middleware. So for each device that will be monitored with GeneSyS, a set of
standard functionalities (e.g. lifecycle functionalities such as join, leave or
authentication) has to be implemented. A starting point for defining the basic
functionality could be the functionality found in JINI and peer-to-peer frameworks such as
JXTA (http://www.jxta.org) Beside this basic
functionality type, specific extensions that reflects extended functionality of a device
has to be provided. The GeneSyS project will define the API for the basic functionality of
Plug-Ins and also the extended functionality expected from specific devices such as
hardware, network, middleware and all other identified layers. In order to keep the API
for the plug-ins as simple as possible, the specific functionality could be provided by
the plug-ins for example through a description e.g. as XML document as used for the WSDL
(Web Service Description Language) in the context of Web-Services. As plug-ins are
supposed to be implemented for very different devices and therefore in different
programming languages, the API should be language neutral.
Beside this API that covers the
connection of devices to the middleware, an API to the standard services of the GeneSyS
middleware ("Core") has to be provided in order to allow the implementation of
custom client applications that exploit the functionalities of the Core. The applications
can be used for monitoring or controlling the devices connected to the GeneSyS
The GeneSyS architecture
The previous concepts, when implemented
on a prototype, will lead to an open, generic,
modular and comprehensive framework for system and application supervision.
To ensure the openness and generic aspect
of the supervision, the GeneSyS architecture is
based on two distinct types of entities:
- a communication Core (CORE),
- supervision Plug-ins (SP).
This architecture will lead the GeneSyS product to be easy to implement on very different
systems as shown on the following figure :
The GeneSyS Core will have :
create and publish a catalogue of the services provided by its Plug-ins ,
route the communications between Plug-ins on the network,
synthesise the supervised system status and display the results to the users.
The Plug-ins implement these functions :
control and monitor local and specific system components,
send monitoring data to the Core via a standard format,
receive and apply control instructions from the Core through the same standard interface.
A Plug-in will be able to control and
monitor several services upon several hardware and software components (such as network
equipment, workstations or applications).
The GeneSyS architecture will be based as
far as possible on a number of existing standards
in middleware technology, such as CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) and
HLA (High Level Architecture - IEEE 1516), as well as on well-established network protocols such as SNMP (Simple Network Management
Protocol), ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol), Ipv4 and IPv6 (Internet Protocol
version 4&6), DiffServ (Differentiated Services) and NTP (Network Time Protocol). The
use of these standards and protocols will contribute to the open and generic
aspects of the solution.