Our very own Eric Schaumlöffel presented the latest on Actional at Codecentric's Friday meeting. They've written up a short blog-post which I'd like to comment upon briefly.
Actional doesn't actually "mark the messages with a unique tracer" as they say in the post. We do have a unique (and patented) way of tracking message dependencies across nodes, discovering consumers and producers that can't be replicated (or hasn't been yet) by vendors who do port sniffing or who have "agents" that are really intermediaries. The important thing is that we do not affect the message, nor do we depend upon the message being in the clear. Why is this important? Well, for starters customers don't like having their messages messed with. But, from a technical perspective, it means that: (1) you don't need to have Actional everywhere in order to get value (we don't have to be on both sides of the communication), and (2) you can remove Actional without affecting your application or requiring any recoding. Yeah, it's like magic... only it's real.
Another thing. The key difference, and the basis for many other differences in our product from what is expected of a solution, is that Actional tracks dependencies BETWEEN nodes, whereas most products, like Dynatrace care about what happens inside nodes. Sometimes products can do "one-hop dependency tracking" (meaning, they can see which nodes communicate with each other, but they cannot trace the communication across multiple hops, like from a consumer, to a portal, to a web service to a database, and then identify unique cluster members for each message for every message in real-time/run-time) whereas Actional can track end-to-end flows, without affecting performance or scalability. And we do it on across a list of platforms and protocols that's quite long (Ouch. Note to self, update website with latest platforms/protocols!). Yeah, again, it's magic. Magic in GA! Shipping. Really.
Finally, they mention that it's weird to do security in a management tool. This is where language fails us. A topic that's close to my heart (here and here). Actional has three offerings (products?), all based upon the same technology so that it is easy for customers to move between them and so that all integrate seamlessly (single UI, single policy expressions, single server to manage 1000+ nodes, etc.). The three are:
The reason for this variety of offering is because customers value capabilities differently from each other. Some customers drive their "governance" efforts around security, whereas some just want to address the "visibility gap" while others perhaps are not ready for "business optimization."
I'd like to personally thank Codecentric for the opportunity to speak at their meeting, and I'm confident that they found Eric knowledgeable and informative.
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