Welcome!

Apache Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Christopher Harrold

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, @CloudExpo, Apache

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Case Study: Transaction Management Stabilizes Virtual Environments

‘Knowledge is power’ and IT solutions are no exception

For a company like Lafarge, the dispatching of trucks and materials is mission critical. So when the performance of IT applications supporting this function suffers, it's bad for business.

Based in Paris, France, Lafarge is a provider of building materials, with more than $15 billion in annual revenue and 68,000 employees in 64 nations. It specializes in cement, aggregates and concrete. If fleet drivers run into delays in getting these materials to construction sites, deadlines are missed and the fallout can get costly. Yet, after launching a server virtualization project, such concerns surfaced due to a decline in the performance of key applications for dispatch operations.

Ultimately, however, this setback - or at least its resolution - helped pave the way for a better way of doing things: a company-wide, virtualized approach to enterprise resource planning (ERP), with a significant investment in Vblock. Vblock brings together EMC's storage, VMware's virtualization and Cisco's server and networking technology. It makes for rapid deployments with boasts of offering "Private Cloud in a Rack."

This move made sense. The virtualization of ERP can drop project's total cost of ownership by 30 percent, according to the Info-Tech Research Group. And Vblock is emerging as a popular tool for ERP and other purposes. Overall, the business behind Vblock, Virtual Computing Environment Company (VCE), indicates that to-date revenues are on track to reach $3 billion in 2013.

But before Lafarge could take advantage of Vblock, it turned its focus to its virtualized dispatch situation.

Dispatch application performance stumbled after the server virtualization launch. This created an immense challenge for a large enterprise such as Lafarge. Small, simple applications only involve a handful of servers, so manually checking log files and rebooting servers when problems occur is feasible. But complex production applications entail hundreds of discrete nodes. In a large-scale virtual environment, the old-school, manually intense way of reading log files to find the problem simply doesn't work.

With a large mixture of physical and virtual servers, Lafarge's IT leadership realized it had a complicated task on its plate. When Lafarge Enterprise Infrastructure Architect Mariano Deluca was asked about the situation, he said that "despite having multiple tools that supplied specific hardware data and event logs, because our applications are so complex, Lafarge was spending too much time on finding the root cause of an issue."

Not only did the approach to troubleshooting require a large team of experts, it took a long time to figure out the cause of issues, if they could be found at all - which wasn't the case with the dispatch applications.

"To even get started on problem analysis," Deluca continued, "we needed to pull together a large, cross-functional team to review all the data."

That's when they turned to BlueStripe, to bring in a solution to help identify errors that were causing the problem. BlueStripe's FactFinder Transaction Performance & Availability Monitoring Solution tracks business transactions end-to-end across the data center, including virtual and cloud environments, monitoring every transaction, end to end, to maximize performance and availability management capabilities.

Once FactFinder was put in play, Lafarge quickly identified what was so unclear before: the transaction slowdowns were occurring only with newly deployed virtual servers, as opposed to the older physical servers that were converted to virtual. BlueStripe quickly ruled out typical errors for these kinds of issues and identified an obscure configuration oversight. In a few hours, Lafarge was able to isolate the root cause and take corrective action, solving a problem that had been going on for weeks.

"With FactFinder, we can get to the root cause of issues quickly just using resources within operations," said Deluca. "Then, we can easily push out the needed remediation for fast resolution."

Now that Lafarge's ERP system is on Vblock, they use FactFinder to monitor transaction and application performance. Throughout the application life cycle, FactFinder monitors live user/applications transactions and certifies application upgrades/deployments, as well as the Vblock infrastructure.

To get the full potential out of IT investments, IT Operations teams must understand how transactions, applications and infrastructure are connected. One way to think about it is being able to follow a transaction across the infrastructure to the slow component, then drilling down the application server stack to understand what caused the problem. As proven out by successes at Raymond James, Husqvarna, and Jackson Hewitt, this simple concept can be applied to any application in any part of the application life cycle to help deliver better performing applications, avoid surprise outages, and improve overall availability.

With full transaction visibility and a methodical way to use it, Lafarge is able to monitor all their applications in diverse technological environments, and the IT Operations team can now take control of the systems they manage. After all, "Knowledge is power", and IT solutions are no exception.

More Stories By Vic Nyman

Vic Nyman is the co-founder and COO of BlueStripe Software. He has over 20 years of experience in systems management and APM and has held leadership positions at Wily Technology, IBM Tivoli and Relicore/Symantec.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Rodrigo Coutinho is part of OutSystems' founders' team and currently the Head of Product Design. He provides a cross-functional role where he supports Product Management in defining the positioning and direction of the Agile Platform, while at the same time promoting model-based development and new techniques to deliver applications in the cloud.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...
@CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX, two of the most influential technology events in the world, have hosted hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors since our launch 10 years ago. @CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX New York and Silicon Valley provide a full year of face-to-face marketing opportunities for your company. Each sponsorship and exhibit package comes with pre and post-show marketing programs. By sponsoring and exhibiting in New York and Silicon Valley, you reach a full complement of decision makers and buyers in ...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
LogRocket helps product teams develop better experiences for users by recording videos of user sessions with logs and network data. It identifies UX problems and reveals the root cause of every bug. LogRocket presents impactful errors on a website, and how to reproduce it. With LogRocket, users can replay problems.
Data Theorem is a leading provider of modern application security. Its core mission is to analyze and secure any modern application anytime, anywhere. The Data Theorem Analyzer Engine continuously scans APIs and mobile applications in search of security flaws and data privacy gaps. Data Theorem products help organizations build safer applications that maximize data security and brand protection. The company has detected more than 300 million application eavesdropping incidents and currently secu...
Rafay enables developers to automate the distribution, operations, cross-region scaling and lifecycle management of containerized microservices across public and private clouds, and service provider networks. Rafay's platform is built around foundational elements that together deliver an optimal abstraction layer across disparate infrastructure, making it easy for developers to scale and operate applications across any number of locations or regions. Consumed as a service, Rafay's platform elimi...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Ca...