Global insurance and benefits consulting business Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) is using using SaaS monitoring tool NetEvidence Highlight to check datacentre service levels and to ensure that users can access applications.
Highlight monitors and reports on how key services are performing, in real-time, between JLT’s main UK offices, its Citrix server farm and its datacentres.
Chris Hunter, group service delivery director at JLT, says the company's existing system monitoring tools were working within their thresholds but that users were unable to access datacentre applications.
“I went round our UK offices and saw people were having problems, but the IT team said the CPU was fine and storage was fine. This is when we started thinking about experience monitoring.”
One of JLT’s businesses is pension administration. Hunter says: “If the system is not working we are not able to deliver the service to our staff and the ultimate customer – in this case the pensioner, who is not able to go down to the Post Office to collect her pension.”
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NetEvidence’s Highlight tool supplements JLT’s existing datacentre monitoring. Hunter adds: “It provides clear indicators on the experience of users, with traffic-light colours to identify if any service is underperforming and where.”
This could be anything from the Citrix desktop tools for email and file sharing through to VoIP, which is vital in the call centre. Applications that form part of a service, including accounting and payroll, are also monitored.
Many back-end applications run on Citrix and can benefit from being monitored using Highlight, according to Hunter. “We provide a lot of applications through Citrix, with huge back-end processes running on Citrix servers. We can check if users can get access to Citrix, and have timely access to these applications.”
JLT ran a proof of concept with NetEvidence three months ago. “We put it in one of our offices and started measuring what people were getting. Highlight gave us early warnings that our [existing] monitoring software was not picking up.”
For instance, system monitoring could show the CPU is at 100% utilisation, but as Hunter points out: “This does not necessarily mean the user is getting a bad experience. On the other hand, the CPU could have modest [load] but the user experience is poor. We can see what the user at the end of a terminal is experiencing.
“With Highlight, we are able to put ourselves in the seat of our colleagues and see our services through their eyes. The key was that we worked closely with our outsourcing service provider – we didn’t want them to feel threatened but rather embrace and augment the service we deliver to our colleagues.”
With Highlight, we are able to put ourselves in the seat of our colleagues and see our services through their eyes
This level of monitoring is allowing JLT to verify it is receiving the correct service levels from its outsourcer, HCL.
Sourcing contracts are geared around physical measures like server uptime, capacity and performance.
Hunter adds: “You get a bunch of reports in NetEvidence Highlight, which tells us our service level.” This is an independent view of the service level, which JLT can check when HCL files its own monthly service level report.
He adds that very few service providers can offer end-to-end monitoring, but HCL has now partnered with JLT to develop this, based on the roll-out of Highlight.
“The key was that we worked closely with our outsourcing service provider – we didn’t want them to feel threatened but rather embrace and augment the service we deliver to our colleagues.”
Through monitoring the datacentres, the user experience and the connections to the datacentres, Hunter gets early warnings if there is going to be a problem. Highlight will soon be extended to monitor multiple offices in 24 countries.
Hunter says the tool sits alongside existing system monitoring to provide a package of datacentre monitoring.
Because Highlight is SaaS-based, it is, according to Hunter, very easy to deploy. And since NetEvidence is built on a framework, Hunter hopes that Highlight will evolve to support complex monitoring such as checking that users can access specific URLs.
He adds: “When a colleague calls the service desk saying something is broken, we have access to detailed information to improve the quality of that interaction and can have a far better informed conversation. Highlight’s visualisation is good, the setup was easy and we are really happy with it. We particularly like the software-as-a-service model. We will now refine it as we move forward with more locations.”