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Smart Enterprise: Greater Expectations

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PHOTOGRAPH: THINKSTOCK Service assurance solutions provide greater visibility into the new IT supply chain. Looking into the Cloud loud computing has been a boon for many IT organizations, lowering costs and improving ease of use. Now another attribute is joining the mix: greater visibility. Recognizing the need for real- time analytics in the age of cloud computing, CA Technologies in late 2009 introduced a portfolio of solutions designed to help IT organizations discern how they're delivering business performance, not only within physical environments, but also across virtual systems and the cloud. Called CA Service Assurance, the portfolio provides CIOs a foundation for both managing current performance and making informed decisions about new technologies and services. CA formulated Service Assurance to help companies moving to the cloud to continue monitoring results. But with cloud computing, there's an unprecedented opportunity to gain a comprehensive view of the health, quality and risk of critical services and transactions. That's because the advent of cloud computing shattered the old model of internal silos, where the network team, the server team, the database team and the application side of the house each had their own metrics. With cloud computing, such divisions have become less relevant. "The only constants are the experiences of the customer or co-worker, and an understanding of what those end users are trying to accomplish," explains Patrick Ancipink, VP of Product Marketing at CA Technologies. "Even if IT outsourced every piece of infrastructure, it's still going to be responsible for measuring and assuring the quality of experience and transaction success the business or organization requires." LOW VISIBILITY Rooms to Go, a Seffner, Fla.-based furniture retailer, embraced cloud computing three-and-a-half years ago with a private cloud solution. The Rooms to Go Point of Sale system lets consumers have a positive retail purchase experience. But the company couldn't track the performance of its retail locations. That meant Rooms to Go had no way of knowing whether the system was running slowly or had even become unworkable for some users. "We quickly realized we had gotten in over our heads," says Jason Hall, the company's Director of IT. "We had no idea how the end user experience was, or whether we were having problems." That all changed recently, when Hall began to use CA Virtual Assurance for Infrastructure Managers. This service assurance solution features a Web-based interface that connects the actual service being delivered with both the end-user experience and business transactions for all application types. Within 30 minutes of firing up the solution, Rooms to Go received alarms on CPU, memory and other issues, Hall says. Those factors, of course, can lead to slow website performance and abandoned transactions, which could result in lost revenue and unhappy customers, Ancipink says. "With good service assurance capabilities our customers can prioritize their efforts on the most important business- related issues and make confident decisions that align with business and organizational objectives." More than ever, it's crucial for CIOs to weigh trade-offs between performance and cost, he says. "Depending on the service, it may be okay to trade a little drop in performance for a big cost advantage," Ancipink says. "The point is to know what each service requires and to manage expectations with your users. Ten additional milliseconds of delay is fine for e-mail, but it's not okay for electronic trading." In contrast, without the visibility that service assurance provides, Ancipink says IT departments are "flying blind" — or, perhaps more accurately, in a cloud. — Todd Wasserman C 46 SMARTENTERPRISEMAG.COM

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