Cetrus Blog

Benefits of 3-Tier Architectures to Real-Time Reporting Solutions

Posted by Erik Hoogerhuis on Jan 20, 2016 12:04:14 PM

Our blog post from last week covered why we believe agents are a critical component of a modern and extensible reporting architecture. This week we’ll take a step back and look at why we believe 3-tier architectures are important in the internet age.

3-tier architectures are not new. They date to the earliest days of mainframes. Simplistically, a three-tier architecture consists of a device or application where action occurs; a controller, which houses information about the devices and caches information for speed of access, security or redundancy, and a centralized database or transaction hub. We call our components:

  • Agents that reside on the end user's computing device
  • Managers that can reside inside or outside the company's firewall
  • The Platfrom that is a Software-as-a-Service database and management application

Cetrus implemented the 3-tier architecture for the same reasons it was orginallolly designed:

  • Simple end-point functionality to minimize application and memory footprint
  • Intermediate management nodes for administration and redundancy
  • Centralized management, data collection and reporting
  • Flexibitlity for complex networks

Separating the solution may appear to make it more complicated than a monolithic/2-tier implementation, but the benefits more than outweigh the complexity. For starters, components can be developed, enhanced and delivered independently of the other components. Agent complexity can be kept to a minimum, reducing the potential for unplanned upgrades. While a Manager component is more complex, organizations have fewer to manage and upgrade if a problem occurs. Smaller organizations can have the Manager hosted in the cloud to minimize infrastructure to manage. The SaaS database is optimized for scalability across many users and organizations.

The individual Agent memory footprint is smaller, enabling installation on lower cost machines or mobile devices. Enterprises can also configure and manage components within the same topology as their networks, easing ongoing administration. Different needs based on issues, such as available network bandwidth, local skills, etc. will require different implementation options.

Components can be implemented in different combinations to create new capabilities, such as installing a Manager and Agent on laptops, enabling off-line application monitoring. A Manager can be installed in the cloud, reducing the need for servers in remote offices. Networks can also have Managers communicate outside the firewall through restricted ports for added security.

Large organizations have multiple domains, each with different needs. Creating a set of components that can map to the needs and existing infrastructure of the enterprise is critical for low-cost implementation and support. One size will not fit all well.

The ultimate goals of the architecture are to provide maximum flexibility, optimal ease of administration and maximum stability/robustness to the enterprise. We believe the 3-tier architecture is the best approach for a robust, real-time monitoring solution.

Contact us at to see how Process Meter can address your real-time application monitoring needs.

Topics: Insider