Welcome!

Apache Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Christopher Harrold, Janakiram MSV

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
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...