Weekly capacity checks as site goes into IT overdrive

Price comparison site Moneysupermarket.com has begun reviewing the capacity of its hardware, bandwidth and IT staffing levels every week to help it manage the rapid expansion of its business.

Price comparison site Moneysupermarket.com has begun reviewing the capacity of its hardware, bandwidth and IT staffing levels every week to help it manage the rapid expansion of its business.

The company, which had a turn­over of £108m last year, is holding meetings every Friday to ensure that its website only uses a fixed proportion of its IT capacity, as the number of customers visiting its site increases.

The company, which employs 235 IT professionals, is planning to complete a total of 96 IT projects by the end of the year to help it manage the growth in its business.

It installed IBM Service Desk software at the end of March to make it easier for IT managers to monitor how much IT capacity they were using.

Chief technology officer Ron Scurr, who introduced the weekly IT reviews when he joined Moneysupermarket.com last autumn, said, "I can tell in real-time what temperature it is in each of the cabinets in our remote-site comms room. I can see how much memory is being used by each cluster."

The IT department has already decided to more than double bandwidth and to hire an extra 53 IT staff to cope with the increase in sales expected during 2007.

Using agile development techniques, IT teams deploy iterative releases of software for each new project, which take between four and 10 weeks to complete. Users give feedback on each iteration to ensure that the final product closely matches business requirements.

Moneysupermarket.com opened an additional IT operations centre in Flintshire during March to cater for the growing numbers of staff and servers.

The second datacentre gave the IT function round-the-clock ­disaster recovery capability, which is helping it keep within the business's maximum permitted downtime for the systems of nine seconds a day.

The company introduced the IT Infrastructure Library methodology late last year to help it manage the growing number of projects.

XML links enhance online experience

Moneysupermarket.com has been establishing XML links with up to 10 insurance companies a week so that customers can buy insurance policies more easily.

The XML links replace screen-scraping technology, which used web robots to extract data from the display output on insurance companies' transactional websites.

Moneysupermarket plots for growth >>

How Moneysupermarket outsourced IT recruitment >>

Comment on this article: computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk




 

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