Tuesday, June 27, 2017

IBM Netcool Agile Service Manager - What is swagger?


The ASM documentation references "swagger" and "swagger URLs" for several different services. The purpose of this post is to describe what this actually means.

What is swagger?

Here's a statement from swagger.io:

The goal of Swagger™ is to define a standard, language-agnostic interface to RESTAPIs which allows both humans and computers to discover and understand the capabilities of the service without access to source code, documentation, or through network traffic inspection.

So the goal of this article is to show what that statement actually means to you in the context of Agile Service Manager.

Swagger URLs for ASM

There are 7 different services that are accessible via a browser. My ASM host is named "asm", and here are the URLs I have for the services:

File Observer Swagger UI
topology-service Swagger UI
search service Swagger UI
ITNM observer Swagger UI
OpenStack observer Swagger UI
Event observer Swagger UI
Docker observer Swagger UI

Topology Service

The Topology Service is the one that will be the one you normally want to visit to view (and even change) data about the resources in the ASM database. Here's what you'll see when you access the URL:

You can click on each section to see the operations associated with each. The section I like is Resources. Here are the operations found there:

From here, you can click on one of the operations, such as the first one: GET /resources. Here's just the first part of what's displayed there:

Notice that it gives you documentation about the operation and lots of other information. Specifically, it provides you with the ability to fill in values for all of the parameters that the operation accepts AND allows you to execute the operation! It also provides you with the 'curl' command that you can run from the command line to execute the exact same operation, with the exact same parameters.

The way to execute the operation is to click the "Try it out!" button at the bottom of the operation documentation.

And there you go! Some data. In this case, what's returned is the ID of the node in the topology that matches the criteria I specified. I can then take this ID and use it as input to other operations in this same group or in other groups.

Try it out and have fun

The above is just an short entry point into ASM's swagger UIs. Play around with them and you'll see that you can do some interesting stuff.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Agile Service Manager UI Introduction

Here's a short video introduction covering the basic features of IBM's Netcool Agile Service Manager.

IBM Netcool Agile Service Manager Thoughts

I recently installed IBM's Netcool Agile Service Manager and wanted to give my initial thoughts on it.

What is Agile Service Manager?

Basically, it's a real-time topology viewer for multiple technologies. Specifically, it can currently render topology data for ITNM, OpenStack and Docker, all in one place. Additionally, it maps events to the topology so you can see any events that are affecting a resource in the context of its topology. So, for example, if you receive a CRITICAL event for a particular Docker container, you will see the node representing that container turn red. Pretty neat. Here's an example of a 1-hop topology of my ASM server's docker infrastructure (you always have to start at some resource to view a topology):

What's so great about it?

Combined Topology View

First, this topology view is wonderful for Operations and Development because it shows a topology view of your combined Network, Docker and Openstack environments, so everyone can see where applications are running and the dependencies among the pieces.


Second, it's got ElasticSearch under the covers, so updates and searches are amazingly fast, and the topology view is built extremely quickly.

Custom Topology Information

Third, you can add your own topology information to make it even more useful!

Here's a screenshot where I've manually modified the topology using a combination of the File Observer and direct access to the Topology Service REST API (from the Swagger URL):

Notice also that Time Entry is in a Critical state. That's due to an event that I generated.


Fourth, it maintains history about the topology. That means that you can view the difference in topology between 2 hours (or two days) ago and right now.

Is ASM a complete replacement for TBSM and/or TADDM?

No, ASM is not a complete replacement for TBSM or TADDM, but you can definitely think of it as "TBSM Lite". TBSM still has some very unique features, such as status propagation, service rules, and custom KPIs that can be defined on a per-business-service basis.

And TADDM's unique capability is the hard work of actually discovering very detailed data and relationships in your environment.

However, because the search and visualization pieces of ASM are so fast and efficient, I can definitely see ASM being used as at least part of the visualization portion of  TADDM. What would be required to allow this is a TADDM Observer to be written.

Additionally, I think the ASM database and topology will in the future be leveraged by TBSM, though this will take a little work.

Parting thoughts

ASM is a truly useful product, with some great capabilities. It's also incredibly easy to install if you've already got Netcool Operations Insight (or at least DASH) installed - I was able to get it installed in just a few hours. I'm certain IBM will be adding features and add-ons to provide even more functionality in the coming months.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

New Linux Samba vulnerability and fix

A new vulnerability was found in Linux Samba from version 3.5 and above. Details here:


The workaround is easy and is contained in the link above:

in your /etc/samba/smb.conf file, add the following in the [global] section:

nt pipe support = no

Then restart smbd with 'service smb restart'

Monday, April 24, 2017

BMXAA7025E and BMXAA8313E Errors running MAXINST on ICD 7.6

I wanted to install the demo data that's provided with ICD 76 by basically following the instructions found here:


But I didn't find those steps before I started, so I took my own path.

Specifically, I didn't drop the database, and that meant that I encountered errors BMXAA7025E and BMXAA8313E when running the 'maxinst.sh' script. What I found is that the cleandb operation doesn't really delete all of the tables and views in the MAXIMO schema (I'm on DB2/WebSphere/RHEL 6.5), so when maxinst gets to running the files under:


It fails because a few of these SQL files try to create tables and views that still exist. I found this link about the problem:


But I didn't like it because it tells you to re-create the database. So with a little digging, I found that after I hit the error, I could run the following db2 commands to delete all of the tables and views that were not automatically deleted:

db2 connect to maxdb76 user maximo using passw0rd
db2 commit

And then I could re-run the maxinst.sh script and it worked like a champ. Please feel free to use my super secure password for yourself.

Monday, April 3, 2017

DevOps: Operations Can't Fail

Agile and DevOps are all about "Fail Fast", which is fine for developers, but absolutely unacceptable for Operations.

For a recent example, just look at the recent AWS outage:


That was caused by someone debugging an application. None of us want our Operations department to be in that position, but it can obviously happen. I think there are one or more reasons behind why it happened, and I've got some opinions on how we need to work to ensure it doesn't happen to us:

Problem: Developers think Operations is easy

Absolutely everything labeled "DevOps" is aimed at allowing Development to do just enough "operations" to get by. But we in Operations know that it takes a lot more: Change and Configuration Management, Event Management, Business Service Modeling, and the list goes on and on. Individual Development teams don't necessarily understand these practices outside of their own application.

One Solution: We need to learn about "the new stuff"

The only way we'll be invited to the table to talk to development teams is to learn about the tools they're using (Jira, Puppet/Chef, Kubernetes, Docker, etc.). This will allow us to use a similar vocabulary when meeting with them. Without this basic knowledge, they simply won't invite us to any of their discussions.

Problem: Developers think Operations is unnecessary

Individual Development teams often don't see why the Operations department even exists. They have their tools that allow them to consistently deploy their application, so why does Operations need to be involved. They don't understand that any one of their 20-or-so "incidental" microservices may actually be absolutely critical to some other application in the environment.

One Solution: After learning the new stuff, ask to be involved

The Operations Manager needs to get involved with the Development teams. She needs to give Development teams some type of framework or process or SOMETHING that makes their application's metrics and availability visible to the Enterprise. This will allow ALL involved parties to understand the situation when there is an outage.

A great graphic from Ingo Averdunk at IBM

The parts in light blue (Logging, Monitoring, Event Mgmt, Notification, Runbook Automation, ChatOps and Root Cause Analysis) are those components that need to be standardized across all applications. If your Operations team isn't meeting with Development, you won't get to explain the need for the standard suite of tools.

There are other problems and other solutions

This post is meant to help Operations in a sea of DevOps information that is aimed only at Development, in the hope that we can reign things in and continue to ensure that the entire enterprise is healthy and available.

Friday, March 31, 2017

DevOps: The functions that must be standardized among different applications

DevOps appears to be here to stay, so from an Operations perspective, we need to ensure that all of the Development teams are playing together nicely and following some common rules.


I just realized that many Dev teams don't fully understand the need for Ops when they're implementing DevOps. Here are the foundational reason, IMO, behind the need for Operations:

Business Continuity

In many enterprises, applications never die, and customers continue to need support long after the original application development team has moved on. If applications don't follow some basic standard practices, they can easily be forgotten by the people who need to support them - Operations. Developers want to move on to the next new thing, which is great for Dev, but horrible for Ops. There are numerous classifications of applications that can't simply change on a whim due to factors such as regulatory control. Regulations affect a truly stunning number of companies, from utilities to taxis to manufacturing. Unless Dev is going to take responsibility for the support of their application over its entire lifespan (which can be 5 to even 20 years), Operations needs to be involved.

Integration With Other Applications

Applications need to talk to one another at some point. And when those connections fail, all involved application teams usually point fingers at one another. To minimize this finger-pointing, all applications should adhere to some common standards, several categories of which are found below. Even if all Development teams coordinate tightly in your company, there are still MANY external applications being used that need to be supported (e.g. WebSphere, Oracle, etc.). And the management of these applications needs to be coordinated with the in-house applications being built. Operations provides this management and coordination.


Application logging should be somewhat standardized to allow the log data to be collected and parsed for important information. This doesn't mean they all need to log in exactly the same format, but they should all adhere to some best practices, such as:

Every log entry should have a timestamp and a unique identifier (such as transaction ID)
Logs should be human readable
Identify the source of the message
Avoid multi-line messages if possible
Use name-value pairs (possibly log in JSON format)


Applications NEED to be monitored at very least for performance (response time) and availability (up/down). Ideally you want to have data collectors at each tier of a multi-tiered application to give you transaction topology and detailed monitoring data, but this can come later. At a bare minimum, all applications need to be monitored using some type of synthetic transactions, which run dummy/non-"real" transactions through the system to gather constant performance and availability metrics.

Event Management

While many applications log information, there are parts of the infrastructure that can only send "events" to some remote destination. The most common types of events are "SNMP traps" (SNMP=Simple Network Management Protocol), which are generated by network equipment such as routers and switches. A cohesive management strategy by operations needs to manage information in log files and events to allow for correlation between and among different systems. For example, a JDBC call from an application may fail, but the application itself doesn't know if this is a failure of the database itself, the network infrastructure or possibly even DNS misconfiguration. The event management function of the Operations group works on identifying these relationships in order to help perform Root Cause Analysis of incidents. This decreases the amount of resources required to resolve an issue.


Who needs to be notified when "something" goes wrong? Do you want every application team to receive an emergency text in the middle of the night for every problem? Probably not. The Operations team is usually responsible for sending (and, more importantly, suppressing) the appropriate notifications. This is tightly related to Event Management and Root Cause Analysis.

Runbook Automation

Anyone who is responsible for handling a ticket needs to have some idea of what to do. Runbooks are sequences of steps an operator can run to gather more information and/or resolve an issue. Runbooks need to be maintained to ensure that they're valid and up-to-date. Application teams often don't have all of the experience needed to create comprehensive runbooks. They are created over time by the Operations staff, who are constantly handling issues.


In an enterprise, the ideal situation is that each user has ONE userid and password (or certificate, etc.) that they use to authenticate to all applications. This authentication storage mechanism needs to be maintained. This is another function provided by Operations.


DevOps is currently a very popular methodology, and it serves its purpose very well. It allows Development teams to continuously deploy applications to provide better business value. Operations is still required to perform quite a few functions that simply aren't in the purview of Development.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Come by booth 568 at #IBMInterConnect to demystify DevOps from an Operations perspective

There is a LOT of chatter about DevOps, but all of it seems to leave Operations almost completely out of the picture. Come to our booth to get our take on DevOps including:

- DevOps tries to encourage Development to do *some* amount of automation and monitoring.

- Your Operations department needs to provide Dev teams with policies for integrating their apps into your monitoring​ and event management system.

- Your Operations department needs to learn a little about software development so you can help educate your Enterprise on exactly how DevOps can fit into your environment.

- Your Operations department needs to learn enough about Agile (specifically Scrum and Kanban) to participate in relevant conversations when the topics arise.

- and more.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Visit us at booth 568 at IBM InterConnect March 19-23 in Las Vegas

Get out to IBM InterConnect 2017!

Stop by booth S568 in the Hybrid Cloud area to talk to us about:

- Our recent and historical successes helping customers like you deploy IBM products.

- IBM's comprehensive suite of ITSM tools, including Netcool, IBM Control Desk, IBM Performance Management, and TADDM.

- How you can effectively use an Agile methodology in your journey to realizing DevOps.

- Different strategies for effective deployments.

- Effectively consolidating and integrating your existing toolsets to your best advantage.

and many more topics!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How to start a Netcool OMNIbus implementation

Someone posed this question on IBM Developerworks today, and I wanted to share the answer I provided, since it contains quite a few useful links:


Automated testing for IBM Control Desk

Last year IBM made available the Selenium Automation Toolkit for Maximo, which includes IBM Control Desk. More information can be found here:


More information about Selenium itself can be found here:


IBM uses Selenium in several tools, including IBM Performance Manager and IBM Application Performance Manager. Essentially, it's used for recording and playing back web browser interactions.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Maximo: How to view data from an arbitrary table

I recently had a need to view data in a Maximo table, but didn't have direct access to the database. So I wanted to find a way to use the Maximo Application Developer to get me this data. As I thought, it's very straightforward. Basically, you just need to create, configure, authorize and launch a dialog that specifies the table (MBO) as its source.

Mainly, follow the thorough instructions found here:


The parts of interest are:

In the dialog element, specify the appropriate mboname:

<dialog id="Testing" mboname="WARRANTYVIEW" label="Contract financial info" >

In this example, the MBO is "WARRANTYVIEW".

Also, you need to specify your MBO's attributes in with the "dataatribute" attribute of each appropriate control:

<textbox id="finaninfo_grid_s1_1"dataattribute="totalcost" />

In this case, "totalcost" is the name of the attribute that will be displayed. Yours will be different.

And that's it for my usecase. The MBO used by the dialog doesn't have to have any relationship to the main MBO attached to the application.