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From Jeff McAdams <>
Subject An enterprise-ish request (ie, basically SNMP)
Date Mon, 10 Sep 2007 23:09:25 GMT
Over the past couple of years, the company I work for has begun to make
use of Apache httpd quite a bit.  At this point, we feel like we have
enough experience under our belts that we've come to make a request.

First, a little bit of background, if you will permit me.

We use httpd largely as a dispatcher of web requests to back end
application servers, we don't do much static content serving, and
virtually no CGI based serving, with httpd.  We're adding a little bit
more, over time, as we make more use of the capabilities of httpd, but
at this point, our usage of httpd for static and CGI content is very
limited.  We front-end our Apache httpd systems with a network
load-balancing device (fail-over HA pair, actually).  We use an
enterprise Network Management System that is heavily based on SNMP.  We
have good SNMP-based visibility into the load-balancing system, and have
decent (and improving) SNMP-based visibility into our application server
systems.  We subscribe to the concept that we call "single pane of
glass" for our network monitoring system.  We strive (and largely
succeed) in getting SNMP-based visibility into our NMS system from
basically all of our systems from network edge, back through farthest
back-end servers.  The glaring missing link is Apache httpd.

I know there are some SNMP implementations as Apache httpd modules.
Unfortunately, the capabilities of these modules, and what they report
on (their MIB) is so limited as to be essentially pointless.  Perhaps
they provide a good basic framework to build on for a more substantial
MIB reporting from httpd?  I don't know the answer to that as I'm not a
good enough of a programmer to critique that.

So, here's my request.  I (speaking for the company that employs me, as
well as myself) would like to see the implementation of a good SNMP
monitoring and alerting capability in httpd.  It would be nice to have a
good implementation of something along the lines of WWW-MIB, as a
starting point.  For our specific needs, I would really like to see a
MIB that exposes Apache httpd's idea of the status of the connectivity
and responsiveness of the back-end application servers that httpd is
dispatching requests to.  Currently we're largely using httpd 2.0.x and
mod_jk with a smattering of 2.2.x with mod_proxy_* (including
mod_proxy_balancer) with an ongoing move to 2.2.x across the board.
This last meaning that a 2.2.x specific implementation would be ok in my
mind, though I suspect there would be a large base of users that would
love to have the capabilities in 2.0.x.  Since I know that the mod_jk
and mod_proxy_* mechanisms are radically different, I realize that an
implementation that supports both 2.0.x and 2.2.x is unlikely.

The company that I work for really doesn't have a great deal of
expertise in C programming (we're mostly a Java shop), so we don't
really have great resources to do this in house.  We do make use of
significant quantities of open source software packages, and like to
"give back" to the community where we can.  If we were to realistically
be able to do an implementation like this, we would certainly be looking
to contribute it back into the httpd mainstream source.  In lieu of
that, however, its likely that we could provide some amount of financial
support in an effort to encourage an implementation along these lines,
again, with the idea of it being contributed back into the mainstream
httpd source.  I don't have an official offer from my management to
support it, but informal discussions show management support for the
idea if that would help bring an implementation about.

So, I hope that this will get the discussion started about an SNMP
implementation.  Like I said, I'm really not a programmer, so I'm not
terribly active on dev@, but wanted to bring this idea to the attention
of httpd developers.

I look forward to being able to answering any questions about our
desires and hope to see some discussion and progress on an SNMP
implementation.  If people think some financial support would be helpful
in bringing this about, I'm certainly willing to talk about that and
work out what my company would be willing to do along those lines.

Jeff McAdams
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a
little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
                                       -- Benjamin Franklin

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