1 IntelliNet Delivers APM Service with CA Nimsoft Monitor
2 2 IntelliNet Delivers APM Service with CA Nimsoft Monitor ca.com communications are vital to the productivity, collaboration and safety of the school s faculty, parents and students. With tens of thousands of students, more than 100 facilities and over 5,000 faculty members, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) relies extensively on for communications, both within specific schools and across the district. In the past, the school district encountered problems with its platform. To improve service levels, decision makers at the school district researched alternatives, and ultimately chose the IntelliNet Application Performance Monitoring (APM) service, powered by CA Nimsoft Monitor. 116 Customer profile Industry: Managed services Client: Cleveland Municipal School District Number of different buildings across the school district covered by IntelliNet s APM service. Challenge For IntelliNet client Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), unreliable performance was hurting user productivity and communications. Solution The IntelliNet Application Performance Monitoring (APM) service, powered by CA Nimsoft Monitor. Benefits By delivering proactive monitoring insights, the APM service helps the CMSD optimize service levels and boost user productivity.
3 3 IntelliNet Delivers APM Service with CA Nimsoft Monitor ca.com The Challenge The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) is committed to becoming one of the nation s premier school districts. The CMSD is working to build an environment in which students will be challenged with a rigorous curriculum that considers the individual learning styles, preferences and capabilities of each student, while utilizing the highest quality professional educators, administrators and support staff available. With tens of thousands of students, more than 100 facilities and over 5,000 faculty members, the CMSD relies extensively on for communications, both within specific schools and across the district. These communications are vital to enhancing the productivity, collaboration and safety of the school s administrators, teachers, parents and students. However, the organization was experiencing unreliable performance, which was hurting the district s ability to meet its objectives. To accommodate the user needs and bandwidth load required, the CMSD had deployed a network that was broadly distributed across Cleveland. In the past, the school district encountered problems with its platform, which users in different regions would access through a Web client. Users in different areas were experiencing widely varying levels of application performance. However, pinpointing the cause of these performance inconsistencies proved difficult. For example, there wasn t a direct mapping of users to an application hosting environment, so if a given user reported an issue, it was challenging to determine which specific environment and system was the cause. The Solution Overview Decision makers at the school district researched alternatives, and ultimately chose the IntelliNet Application Performance Monitoring (APM) service, powered by CA Nimsoft Monitor. Through the evaluation process, IntelliNet was able to demonstrate its ability to deliver the proactive application performance management required. To effectively address the district s needs, IntelliNet needed to go beyond traditional infrastructure and application component-centric monitoring. Consequently, in addition to employing CA Nimsoft Monitor for core monitoring of servers and networking components, the company also leveraged the solution s synthetic monitoring capabilities. With CA Nimsoft Monitor, the team at IntelliNet set up transaction servers that simulated a number of distinct user interactions and functions. Each transaction is reliant on the back-end infrastructure, and tests such capabilities as whether a user can log in, query the mailbox database or log out, and if so, how long each step takes. Today, IntelliNet s APM service covers approximately 116 different buildings across the school district. By collecting metrics and alarms from the mailbox database and Web access server, and correlating them with synthetic transaction measurements, IntelliNet is able to identify issues that are
4 4 IntelliNet Delivers APM Service with CA Nimsoft Monitor ca.com affecting multiple sites. Further, the IntelliNet APM service can effectively point administrators to the root cause problem that needs to be addressed, rather than associated downstream issues that the underlying issue may trigger. When a bad switch or a router outage is detected, IntelliNet field engineers are assigned the issue to handle remediation, including going on site to do hardware reconfiguration, repairs or replacements. The school district has been relying on the IntelliNet APM service for several years. Implementation Methodology In developing its APM services for the CMSD, the IntelliNet team undertook the following key steps: Focusing on the client s charter. From the outset, IntelliNet s account and operations teams focused on the organization s charter. In a very real sense, while they were working with the CMSD, the ultimate clients are the tens of thousands of students the district serves. Prioritizing efforts. Through initial meetings with administrative staff, the IntelliNet team began to identify the applications that were most vital to delivering services required by the student population. This included looking at the most used and most mission-critical areas within their environment to identify the subset of the highest priority applications. Assessing the environment, implementing core monitoring. The IntelliNet operations team began working with the district s administrators to survey the existing environment and application architecture. Equipped with this understanding, the team set out to implement monitoring of the core technologies that supported the delivery of to end users, including network devices and key application servers. Implementing synthetic transaction monitoring. With the core infrastructure monitoring and alarms in place, IntelliNet worked with the school district s application engineer that was responsible for to begin implementing synthetic transactions. This process included defining how the script would be built, which steps would be tested and what kinds of alarms would be generated. They also worked with the district s network engineers to determine the best locations for implementing synthetic transactions. Establishing baselines and dashboards. The IntelliNet team began tracking the metrics being gathered to establish effective baselines and intelligent correlation, so they could begin to implement meaningful alarms. In parallel, the team began to work on the dashboards, including building prototypes, gathering client feedback and refining data presentation. Training. The final implementation phase included training level one NOC staff on how to handle escalation procedures, interpret dashboard data, triage application issues and provide support to CMSD end users. Ongoing improvement. To continue to refine the implementation, IntelliNet runs monthly meetings with district representatives, during which they discuss client feedback, and requests for service additions, modifications and deletions.
5 5 IntelliNet Delivers APM Service with CA Nimsoft Monitor ca.com The Solution Architecture IntelliNet deployed a proactive APM service that monitored servers at strategic locations across the district: in the colocation facility, the administration building and user sites in the eastern and western regions of the district (see figure A below). At each site, the servers use different connections and network paths to access the environment. Each transaction server would attempt to log into each server instance and complete its work. For example, the server located at the user site on the east side would execute the same series of transactions against all four server environments (as depicted in the graphic above). Through this approach, the team at IntelliNet could verify that all the different network paths were being tested. The team at IntelliNet deployed a transaction server in the colocation site s data center because that is where the infrastructure is hosted. Consequently, this server would provide a strong performance baseline. Because the transaction server and servers reside in the same facility, the connection should be the fastest possible, without any latency associated with Internet connectivity. They also opted to implement synthetic transaction monitoring within the administrative office, which is where a lot of the most vital communications originate. Finally, given that some buildings connect through high capacity optic networks, and others rely on lower bandwidth cable and DSL connections, they implemented transactions at sites that relied on these different networks, so they would have a picture of how user experience would be affected by network throughput. In order to establish effective baselines, the team at IntelliNet ran synthetic transactions for a few weeks without turning on alarms. Once effective baselines were gathered, the team then used those to create the monitoring thresholds that, when exceeded, would trigger alarms. If synthetic transactions at different sites started taking longer than the established baseline, alarms would be sent to enable proactive remediation. Figure A. By automatically running synthetic transactions from specific locations, the IntelliNet solution provides accurate, timely insights into the performance levels users are experiencing.
6 6 IntelliNet Delivers APM Service with CA Nimsoft Monitor ca.com Root Cause Analysis When alarms are generated, they are routed to IntelliNet s APM alarm servers. As outlined earlier, these alarms are based on metrics gathered through infrastructure monitoring as well as synthetic transaction monitoring, and this data is correlated to facilitate more effective alarms and root cause analysis. When an alarm associated with the service is generated, a call is automatically triggered to the administrator, so that individual can immediately examine the affected database and begin remediation. Further, this correlation is invaluable in helping identify whether the issue is arising within the infrastructure or at the ISP. The team at IntelliNet is also able to see, for example, if the transactions generated at the user site on the east side are being plagued by slow connectivity, and if so, contact that facility s network administrators so they can address the issue and restore network performance. To more effectively define correlation logic, the team at IntelliNet found that it was important to identify different use cases for the application. For example, if one monitoring server indicates that the database is slow for a specific use case, IntelliNet administrators may also know a related transaction step will also run slowly. As a result, they can then better distinguish between the root cause of issues and the associated downstream symptoms that the underlying problem may create. Figure B. IntelliNet has implemented user response monitoring at several locations within the CMSD network.
7 7 IntelliNet Delivers APM Service with CA Nimsoft Monitor ca.com In addition, the data collected through the monitoring servers is used to populate service dashboards (see figure B). These dashboards provide an overview of the environment, including response times and availability to the users, which the school district can display in its operations center. Figure B is an actual dashboard that the team at IntelliNet provided to the CMSD. Each one of the objects depicted corresponds to the locations where IntelliNet deployed a transaction server to query the application. This dashboard view provides a quick overview of the health of the application as measured from the different user locations. The green bar under each location graphic indicates performance is within an optimal range. If an issue arises, the color of the bar changes based on the severity of the performance impact, indicating whether the issue is minor (yellow), major (orange) or critical (red). If a problem were to arise with one of the sites, school district staff would be able to click on the graphic object to load a secondary, drill-down view showing the transaction steps for the application. Figure C depicts the resulting screen. Each object in this drill-down view represents a transaction step that is color coded according to its alarm severity. This view also provides actual transaction response time measurements. If a given transaction step encounters a critical failure, for example, generating a failure to load or failure to complete transaction result, the step would be covered by a red X. These high level dashboards and correlated monitoring metrics provide administration and support staff with at-aglance insights into the current status of all application transaction steps and subsystems monitored. Further, they enable administrators to dig into the details of a specific system, so they can quickly understand when failures occur, and where. Figure C. The IntelliNet solution features dashboards that provide at-a-glance views into the performance of key user interactions.
8 8 IntelliNet Delivers APM Service with CA Nimsoft Monitor ca.com The Benefits By proactively managing service levels, the administrators and faculty within the school district are able to enjoy better responsiveness and availability for their communications, which are essential to their being able to fulfill their respective charters of educating and protecting students. For the administrative staff, is an essential channel for communicating efficiently with the district s thousands of teachers, across more than 100 locations. Further, is the mechanism for communicating with the parent community, including providing critical updates around student safety. Likewise, faculty use for sending information and requests to administrative staff. This service has helped the school district realize cost benefits. The IT team has been able to make a significant move, going from being reactive to proactive, and as a result significant time savings have been realized. Now, administrators are not constantly saddled with calls about outages and slow response. They re now able to resolve issues much more efficiently and quickly, which saves head count for more meaningful efforts. About IntelliNet Corporation IntelliNet, an IT Management as a Service (MaaS) Company, is a premier network management and professional information technology (IT) consulting firm. IntelliNet implements solutions worldwide. From our 24x7x365 Network Operations Center (NOC), we manage applications in 44 states, 25 countries, and 4 continents. IntelliNet s fully managed services include Application Performance, Network Support, Cloud and Hosting Services, Service Desk, and Application Development. Founded in 1997, IntelliNet has a long history of success in delivering cost-effective managed services. IntelliNet s customers range from Fortune 500 companies to small and mid-sized businesses and local and regional government agencies. Whether working with an international, publically traded company or a small, locally owned business, the IntelliNet solution starts with building customer relationships on a foundation of quality and uncommon attention to service. For more information about IntelliNet, go to intellinetcorp.com.
9 9 IntelliNet Delivers APM Service with CA Nimsoft Monitor Connect with CA Technologies at ca.com Agility Made Possible: The CA Technologies Advantage CA Technologies (NASDAQ: CA) provides IT management solutions that help customers manage and secure complex IT environments to support agile business services. Organizations leverage CA Technologies software and SaaS solutions to accelerate innovation, transform infrastructure and secure data and identities, from the data center to the cloud. CA Technologies is committed to ensuring our customers achieve their desired outcomes and expected business value through the use of our technology. To learn more about our customer success programs, visit ca.com/customer-success. For more information about CA Technologies go to ca.com. Copyright 2013 CA. All rights reserved. All trademarks, trade names, service marks and logos referenced herein belong to their respective companies. This document is for your informational purposes only. CA assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information. To the extent permitted by applicable law, CA provides this document as is without warranty of any kind, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or noninfringement. In no event will CA be liable for any loss or damage, direct or indirect, from the use of this document, including, without limitation, lost profits, business interruption, goodwill or lost data, even if CA is expressly advised in advance of the possibility of such damages. CS