Game Changing ITOA Use Cases

Unified Infrastructure Management Empowers IT Operations

By David Hayward
Senior Principal Manager, Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies

In today's business climate, every second of infrastructure degradation can adversely impact application performance and customer experience, significantly derailing your organization's revenue and reputation. To address this challenge, IT Operations staff must inspect a massive amount of metrics across multiple technology domains and monitoring disciplines to find the root cause. And often, there is more than one issue that needs to be rooted out.

While numerous vendors may provide the necessary analytics, they hamper triage and time-to-resolution by forcing Operations staff to flip between separate tools, each performing separate functions, to scroll endlessly across panels of data on separate web pages and even jump between reports within single-function tools.

Unified infrastructure management changes the game. This is a new-kind of tool that combines all aspects of monitoring and analytics (SNMP, non-SMNP, network flow, capacity and application response analytics and more) to improve the infrastructure management process. The integration, convergence and ultimate unification of information is only part of the story: this new kind of IT monitoring technology displays previously disparate analytical functions in logical workflows within a common dashboard to speed triage of the most common and perplexing IT operational problems.

Here are three use cases of this game-changing trend in infrastructure management.

Case Study 1: Unified SNMP, Application Response and Network Flow Analytics
A consumer products manufacturer had complaints about SAP application performance across its global network. Using their unified infrastructure management tool, the operations team customized dashboards for critical applications, like SAP, hosted in their data center. The dashboard's top panel displayed application response by network segment, with the New York to Shanghai segment performing worst. First, the operator saw network roundtrip time increase and response time degrade as more users logged onto the SAP application throughout the day. Next, he saw end-to-end packet loss increase hourly, dropping application throughput even more. SNMP metrics in the following panel indicated high utilization of the Shanghai edge router's inbound WAN interface. Further down the dashboard, NetFlow analysis revealed that traffic this router and specific ports during the same period. Internet, email and file back-up traffic were all in the same QoS queue as the SAP application, robbing its bandwidth. To remediate, they modified QoS markings to give SAP top priority. They recommend this enterprise-wide as well as Cisco WaaS (WAN acceleration) on certain circuits.

Figure 1
IT Operational Analytics previously found in separate monitoring tools, web pages and reports, are unified and ordered into a single user interface to solve common, perplexing problems more efficiently. Show here, Application Response, SNMP, NetFlow analytics are combined and displayed to guide triage workflow and speed service impact root cause determination.

Case Study 2: Unified SNMP, Application Response and Packet Analytics
A retailer was getting complaints from users that an ecommerce application was slow. To respond, an operations center specialist opened her unified infrastructure management tool, which provided a set of application-specific dashboards. She clicked the top panel, which indicated the performance of each web server associated with the ecommerce and other applications based on application response analytics. Sure enough, the ecommerce web server was degraded. The next panel below displayed host server health based on an aggregate of SNMP metrics. Clicking on the ecommerce server name, she opened a detailed SNMP metrics report: both memory and CPU utilization were high. Scrolling down, she reviewed trend-with-events charts. The memory trend line looked like a typical memory leak (i.e., when memory utilization peaks, CPU utilization spikes). To confirm, she clicked on the event to launch an Incident Investigation Report. This verified that a run-away process was consuming memory on the server and causing the high CPU utilization. She restarted the process to return everything to normal.
Figure 2
Display panels that unify disparate IT Operational Analytics improve visual correlation for speeding triage and making accurate conclusions. Shown here, the top panel combines time-series data with events; the bottom panel combines graphs and tables that show component status in the context of a related group of devices.

Case Study 3: Unified SNMP, NetFlow, IP SLA, CBQoS and VoIP Monitoring
Time is money for service providers, and here's how one used analytics within unified infrastructure management to efficiently guard VoIP and video service quality.

Pre-deployment voice and video readiness assessment starts bottom up, so they first used SNMP to monitor routers, switches, and interfaces to see how the network was performing from capacity and error points of view. The engineering team corrected these issues and again used SNMP to evaluate and adjust queuing by looking at CBQoS VoIP and Video Class Maps that were configured across the infrastructure. Next, using NetFlow monitoring, they verified that voice and video type-of-service were tagged properly and ensured that no extraneous traffic was hogging bandwidth. Finally, they utilized IP SLA per-hop quality testing to evaluate and adjust capacity to eliminate Jitter, latency and packet loss.

With pre-deployment work done in record time, they used clicked on additional dashboard functions for piloting and production monitoring. This included call path quality analysis using MediaNet monitoring and passive SIP/SCCP traffic monitoring for end-user quality of experience (including Individual Call-Data-Record and Detailed Bi-Directional Call-Leg Analysis) to assure a fast, successful VoIP rollout and company town-hall meeting via video.

Analytics Across the End-to-End Fault Domain
Unified infrastructure management provides what seasoned engineers and operations specialists call "an actionable view of the end-to-end fault domain." By combining all monitoring functions into single user interface with efficient workflows, you have the power to visually correlate data faster and make accurate conclusions about how infrastructure impacts your critical business applications.

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About David Hayward
David Hayward is CA's Senior Principal Product Marketing Manager for Infrastructure and Operations solution. He began his career as an editor at the groundbreaking BYTE computer magazine in 1979 and has since held senior marketing positions in tier one and startup computer system, networking, data warehousing, VoIP and security solution vendors. His writing and speaking engagements focus on IT maturity challenges, best-practices and solutions.

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