Start anywhere application modeling
Start anywhere application modeling is a quick and easy approach to application modeling, which enables you to choose any entry points into an application, and begin modeling from there.
A Business Application is a system that provides a business function to users or customers of the business. Applications generally involve multiple separate pieces of software such as application servers and databases, plus network services such as load balancers. BMC Discovery automatically finds and connects most parts of most applications, so modeling an application is a matter of providing business context to the information within BMC Discovery.
Essentially, the modeling process involves these steps:
- Search for something in your application.
- View it in the Software-Connected visualization focus.
- Add or remove components as required (usually remove).
- Save the model definition.
- Publish, and view the Business Application Instance node (BAI)
The following topics are covered in this section:
Where to start?
You should start application modeling from anywhere that is interesting in the context of the application you are modeling. The best way of doing this is the search box in the top right of the UI. Enter the name or other detail of something you know to be in the application, and explore the data from there. When you see what you are looking for, click Model.
Good starting points depend on the type of application structure, and what you know about it. Sometimes it is most effective to start from application entry points like load balancer services; other times the databases used to store application data are well known, and are the easiest place to start in finding all the parts of the application; in many cases, simply searching for the name of the application is sufficient to find many parts of it.
One of the easiest places to start exploration of the data is often Host nodes, because some or all of the hosts used by an application are usually known to the application owners. However, most hosts run many pieces of software that are not directly part of the application of interest, including management and monitoring agents, and sometimes parts of other applications. If you model an application having started at a Host node, there are often quite a lot of unwanted nodes to remove. In this situation, it is often most effective to start with the Host node visualization but then click through to a SoftwareInstance node or other more specific node. That automatically trims off many of the unwanted nodes that happened to be sharing a Host with the required nodes.
Wherever you start from, the starting points are only relevant to finding parts of the application in the first place. Once you have modeled an application, the original starting points are no longer important, and the system does not remember them.
The modeling process
For the user exploring the data of BMC Discovery and creating a model, start anywhere application modeling is based around the software-connected visualization. The software visualization enables you to explore the nodes connected to the entry point or points, and select those that are interesting in the context of the application. You then save the view as a model definition that you can access through the application modeling home page, for later use, or you can continue to model. When you are satisfied that the definition represents the application, you can publish the model, which creates the Business Application Instance node, or BAI.
For a more detailed procedure about how to create a model, see Creating an application model.
Versions and instances
Invariably a business application has a number of versions and a number of instances. Start anywhere application mapping aims to be so quick to complete models that you should model each instance and version separately. Once the general structure of the application is understood, it is simple to repeat the steps of searching for content, viewing, and removing unimportant items; the actual process of modeling and publishing is very rapid.
The system automatically identifies software nodes that are likely to be shared by multiple applications, for example shared database servers and message queues. Visualizations do not follow relationships out of these nodes, so the view is simpler and less cluttered. This also applies to saved application models. When Discovery updates application models at scan time, it takes shared software nodes into account, so models do not balloon with unwanted nodes.
If the system does not identify a software node which you consider shared, you can force it to be considered shared. This change affects just the node selected, in all visualizations and application models. As with system identified shared nodes, nodes that you have forced to be shared are taken into account when updating application models. Similarly, if the system has decided that a node is shared, you can force it to be considered not shared. If you have forced a node to be shared or not shared, you can change that behavior and let the system decide whether software is shared or not.
Shared nodes are displayed in visualizations with a grey dashed border. If you force a node that the system considered shared to not be shared, it is still shown with a grey dashed border, so you can identify it again in case you want to let the system decide from now on.
The starting nodes for a visualization are always displayed with a green highlight. If any of the starting nodes are shared, they are shown with a green dashed border, and the usual behavior of suppressing related nodes is disabled for those nodes, to avoid it looking like they are orphaned.
You create an application model by selecting nodes and relationships that have already been discovered, but the model does not stay static and unchanging. BMC Discovery automatically updates them as the environment changes. If you scan the environment and a new component of the application is discovered, it is automatically linked in to the existing components, and reflected when you view the model again.
The way in which a model is updated is very easy to understand. To create a model in the first place, you start a visualization from one or more starting nodes, and the system traverses across the graph data to find related nodes that reflect the connected software. An application model is essentially a saved visualization that remembers any nodes that were present, plus any that were manually removed. When new data is discovered, affected application models are re-evaluated as if a new visualization was generated starting from all the current software nodes that are in the model. Any newly included nodes are automatically added to the application model.
For more information about how models are updated, see Lifecycle of an application model.
Candidate software instances
Where some processes are not identified by patterns, but BMC Discovery has determined that the process is involved in interesting communication, it creates a Candidate Software Instance to represent the process. A good rule of thumb is that if a process is not identified by a pattern then it is, in the vast majority of cases, not very interesting. A list of candidate software instances should not be viewed as a to-do list. However, if a candidate software instance is involved in your application, perhaps it links parts of the application, then it may be worth creating a software instance.
When you create an SI from a candidate SI, all matching candidate SIs in the current view are converted, and the system creates and activates a pattern to do the same. After the pattern is activated, it converts all matching candidate SIs in the datastore.
For more information on creating SIs from candidate SIs, see Candidate software instances.
Where is the TPL?
Most automated data creation and maintenance in BMC Discovery is performed by TPL patterns, but Start Anywhere Application Models are not maintained with TPL. They are automatically maintained by the system. To transfer some model definitions from one instance of BMC Discovery to another, you export and import the models, rather than transferring TPL.
What about CAM?
CAM is still supported, and still a part of BMC Discovery. We will no longer actively develop CAM, as our resources will be devoted to start anywhere application modeling. BMC Discovery 11 was the first release of start anywhere application modeling, and later versions built upon it. That does not mean that work done in CAM is wasted, far from it. Using the Application modeling home page, you can still import CAM application mapping definitions into BMC Discovery, and you can view CAM models in the application model view.