INTEGRIS Health is Oklahoma’s largest state-owned health system, with hospitals, rehabilitation centers, physician clinics, mental health facilities, independent living centers, and home health agencies throughout the state. With a wide, interconnected network and much sharing of information between facilities, it is crucial that their IT network service levels ensure constant network availability in order to provide superior client response time. Sightline is being used to monitor the operating systems and hardware of INTEGRIS Health’s network. Ted Kidd, Systems Engineer for INTEGRIS Health, explained that the organization needed a tool to track overall system performance and utilization. In particular, they needed a monitoring solution for their OpenVMS platform. After looking at different vendors, including PAWZ, the company decided that Sightline would best serve their complex needs based on Sightline’s drill-down capabilities and ability to monitor server performance 24×7.
Kidd explained that Sightline has provided INTEGRIS Health with accurate historical information, as well as timely day-to-day information. It has eliminated guesswork about requirements for hardware and has allowed INTEGRIS Health to spot and analyze problems quickly and efficiently. In addition to covering their OpenVMS platform, Sightline has enabled INTEGRIS Health to monitor their Tru64 and AIX environments, fostering interrelationships between these critical systems. By using history trace files and offering the data on their internal web using Sightline’s AutoWeb, INTEGRIS Health has been able to better track server activity and actually see growth trends.
This is crucial to their systems engineers as well as management, who are able to access information for analysis in an easy and timely manner. As an example, Kidd cited a recent instance in which a message was received from their Tivoli monitor that the CPU of one of their servers was extremely busy. When they received the message, they pulled up the Sightline live feed plot for that server (which is offered up via AutoWeb). Because of this advanced monitoring feature of Sightline, Kidd was able to go to the web page for live plots and see that the CPU was pegged at 100% for the past 30 minutes. Kidd was able to work with the application/database analyst, find the cause of the problem, and resolve the issue. Sightline provided the means to see it all, enabling managers to implement performance rules and logic that automatically scanned all components of the critical transaction path in real-time to ensure complex operations remained contention free, and to assure service level standards.
Value Created for Executives and End Users:
With Sightline, INTEGRIS Health experiences value at all levels of the organization. At the executive level, it provides real-time information about the health of the system in terms they can understand. For IT staff, the drilldown capabilities allow a complete view of the system and any potential problems. It also assures better client response time because of less down time, and integrates with all platforms, representing huge economy of scale for cross-domain applications.
Sightline’s ability to layer performance metrics helped IT staff at one company resolve a system problem that had been plaguing them for some time prior to the installation. By examining the impact of several metrics simultaneously, they were able to quickly trace the performance problem to a source code issue. Sightline enables you to view end-to-end business flows and view service level indicators in real-time. An organization is able to maintain peak performance of its applications and the systems supporting them.
“We needed service level assurance across the many levels of our enterprise. Sightline makes a significant difference in our overall operations efficiency,” commented Ted Kidd, Systems Engineer, Integris Health management of the business critical IT infrastructure. Now organizations can easily identify trends and relationships in key business indicators as they are occurring, not after they have reached a critical threshold. Furthermore, Sightline can quickly and automatically determine the root causes which are contributing to any service level degradation and enable IT to address the issues before end-users experience any service interruptions.
Business in the highly competitive financial services industry has always been about providing the customer with the best possible service to ensure their patronage. Scottish Life recently received recognition for the management of customer facing IT systems and services. Compass Management Consulting, a fact-based performance improvement consultancy, awarded Scottish Life a place in the Top 20 world group of best performing companies in 2001, based on the speed and efficiency of its IT systems development and networks. “There is no question that financial services companies must rely more and more on highly efficient IT systems to help provide quality service to customers at minimum cost. Over the years, Scottish Life has invested prudently but significantly in this area, and we will continue to do so to help ensure that Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) and their clients receive the kind of service they would want from us,” said Brian Duffin, chief executive of Scottish Life.
Prior to a major strategic infrastructure enhancement, Scottish Life faced significant obstacles in maintaining service levels. When Scottish Life’s original systems encountered service degradations, the resolution process began by users making a phone call to technical staff. Resolution of problems often resulted in significant delays as the technical staff waded through pages of figures. By the time the issue was resolved, the problem had often become much worse and the provision of service was greatly impacted. The lack of adequate measures to rapidly identify faults in the system led Scottish Life to seek greater reassurance in a resilient, structured solution.
Scottish Life viewed three competing systems’ monitoring tools before selecting Sightline™. After installing Sightline for a trial period, the software detected a major glitch that enabled Scottish Life to solve a significant problem prior to launch of a major new system. In addition, the graphic interface of Sightline made fault diagnosis easier to identify than with the competing products. Sightline’s performance quickly proved its value and was promptly installed across Scottish Life’s infrastructure.
Approximately 200,000 financial transactions are processed daily throughout Scottish Life’s IT infrastructure, with its primary service window operating between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm. At any given time, the system is capable of handling one thousand users, with the number stabilizing at between three to four hundred users at a time. Due to its advancements with Sightline, Scottish Life is now able to provide its computer users with service level agreements (SLAs) guaranteeing ninety-nine percent operational uptime.
At the center of Scottish Life operations are two Unisys based mainframe systems. The two mainframe systems contain complex information for the life and pensions financial service markets. Scottish Life predominantly conducts business with independent financial advisors who provide high-quality life and pension advice and services. At the center of Scottish Life operations are two Unisys based mainframe systems. The two key facilities are approximately one mile apart and connected by dark fiber. The first site contains production mainframes and network infrastructure. The second site contains the product development mainframe and network infrastructure, and additionally holds business continuity and disaster recovery facilities.
The production mainframe system is a monolithic Unisys LINC/DMSII application running on a Unisys ClearPath NX 6830. Performance and operation are supported with EMC Disk and ATL Tape Robots. As a regular winner of a ‘5-Star service to clients’ award, Scottish Life requires a consistent service within the Production Environment, based on constant quality, speed of service and rapid fault resolution.
A Mid-Atlantic State has been a customer of Sightline since 2002. They originally monitored just the OS2200 systems, and expanded to Windows systems over 10 years ago. The Windows systems include web servers running IIS and Component Services and database servers running Oracle and SQL Server. As the environment started moving to virtualization using VMware, Sightline software was also deployed to monitor systems at the VMware level. Sightline software is used for monitoring, alerting and reporting, as well as long-term trending of both system and storage resources.
Deployment: DPW uses the Sightline software to monitor approximately 700 test and production Windows systems and three ClearPath OS2200 mainframes. Sightline is an integral part of their IT environment, and there are several Sightline dashboards on display throughout the IT environment at DPW.
Customer Satisfaction: Because Sightline can be used to analyze applications across multiple systems, DPW has been able to successfully analyze issues where a symptom such as high transaction response time appears on one system, but the root cause is on another.
In 2013 DPW was the designated agency to provide access for its citizens to health insurance options provided through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Sightline Performance Suite was used to perform application and systems performance analysis and trend analysis for application response time and system resource utilization before and during the ACA implementation. Specifically, Sightline was used to compare application and system performance from the new application code suite on the Microsoft® Windows® servers and Unisys® ClearPath® to the previous versions of the application components to help identify applications that required further analysis to address measured performance issues and for helping to determine the health and stability of the DPW IT infrastructure. During the initial period of the ACA rollout, the Sightline software provided hands-on system monitoring and problem management. The Sightline software was instrumental in the technical monitoring of the DPW production IT environment in a conference room setting with managers and technical resources during the first three days when ACA became available for use. It helped diagnose and address five critical issues that developed for DPW during the first two days of the ACA implementation. As a result, the duration of these outages was shorter and reoccurrences were eliminated.
“I don’t know how a project of this magnitude can be implemented without using Sightline.”
System Administrator, State DPW.
The explosive growth in card-not-present e-commerce transactions coupled with ever increasing card-present transactions has spurred tremendous business expansion while presenting new challenges for operations staff responsible for maintaining service levels at global payments processors. At the heart of each company’s operations are several mission critical, high availability systems, delivering the performance and industry-leading up-time required for these high-volume 24x7x365 customer facing operations. Critical to achieving response time goals is each company’s ability to rapidly identify and resolve any problems in its processing, networking and communications systems. Delivering and monitoring this high level of system wide performance take a variety of solutions as Sightline Systems discovered when recently working with two global payments processors that are responsible for handling billions of merchant transactions per year. One company was using an in-house tool to monitor system performance in real time, requiring several hours of IT staff time each day, while the other company used a product that provided ad-hoc reports on system performance. Each organization recognized the need for a comprehensive automated performance management solution that would provide point-and-click visibility into the end-to-end real-time performance of its payments processing systems.
Each company developed a similar set of objectives for effectively monitoring and managing system performance:
Based on positive experiences with a trial installation, each company chose the Sightline™ software suite from Sightline Systems corporation. Sightline is a real-time performance and capacity management solution designed for complex “lights out” IT environments. The software continuously captures, stores and analyzes real-time performance and event data, producing actionable information to help detect and diagnose performance issues. Key features of the Sightline solution are its powerful data collection capabilities, robust analytic engine, and interactive user interface.
Specially designed data collection agents capture real-time performance data across the entire processing environment, including server systems, applications, networks, databases and other external sources. Data is aggregated, stored and sent to a dedicated server for analysis and display. Historical data is maintained in a centralized database, providing input for sophisticated trend analysis used to project future capacity needs.
Automated analysis tools apply application-specific “rules” to identify abnormal conditions that may impact service levels. Rule parameters are based on user-defined metrics and thresholds, and are configured after a discovery session with a Sightline engineer. Periods of abnormal activity are flagged and isolated, and user-defined alerts are issued. An industry-leading correlation engine compares interrelationships within the cross-tier data collected, offering insight into potential causes of performance problems.
The user-friendly Web interface presents a consolidated graphical view of multiple data sources. Authorized users can isolate specific periods of abnormal activity and drill down into the data, or initiate further analysis on demand. Customized reports and alerts are delivered through the Web-based interface, ensuring any time, anywhere access to critical performance information.
Sightline’s ability to layer performance metrics helped IT staff at one company resolve a system problem that had been plaguing them for some time prior to the installation. By examining the impact of several metrics simultaneously, they were able to quickly trace the performance problem to a source code issue. complex mission-critical operations. Sightline’s real-time analysis and visualization capabilities enable both companies to pinpoint problems in minutes rather than days or weeks, freeing up IT staff to focus on other responsibilities. As a result, one company was able to expand the role of key members of IT staff previously dedicated to monitoring system performance.
Operations managers and executives at both companies use Sightline as a business analysis and planning tool. Easy access to Sightline’s graphical displays and customized reports enables them to track service levels and view performance metrics. whenever they want. After running a trend analysis using 18 months of historical data, one company projected a need for additional capacity to accommodate an upcoming busy shopping season. As a result, the company was able to proactively plan and budget for the additional capacity, while ensuring it could deliver superior service throughout the upcoming peak period.
A major data center hosting company has been a customer of Sightline since 2002, originally monitoring multiple Unisys ClearPath OS2200 mainframes. They migrated their applications to Windows and Linux/UNIX systems and by 2010 were no longer using mainframes any longer, but considered the Sightline software to be essential and continued to use the Sightline software for performance monitoring, detailed performance analysis and capacity planning on the new platforms.
Deployment: Currently the company monitors approximately 15,500 Windows and Linux systems (11,375 Windows and 4125 Linux) using Sightline Power Agents, along with a handful of Solaris and IBM AIX systems. They consider the Sightline Power Agent to be unique in retrieving the volume of data that it does with such a small footprint on the system. They monitor over 100,000 transactions per minute using the Sightline software, and have over 170,000 charts that are updated in real time, representing the resource utilization of these systems.
The hosting provider is currently implementing an enterprise-wide system alerting system based on the data collected by Sightline. In addition, they plan to use the Sightline data for billing/chargeback in the future.