Category: Case Study

Case Study: Large Australian companies benefit from on-site support

It’s no secret that a complex IT project can take years to complete. Digitally transforming a large organisation usually necessitates bringing on an entire team, and finding the right people to fill those roles is critical to the project’s success. JDS not only provides technical expertise and advice before and during an implementation project, but also offers ongoing support after the fact. Remote and on-site support ensure that your project continues to be successful. We also provide training for your team so that ultimately, your internal staff are confident and ready to take over when the time comes.

Two examples of extended on-site JDS support for clients in Australia are featured below.

A Large Insurance Company (LIC)

ITOM Monitoring, CMDB & Automation

JDS has provided the LIC with HPE BSM consulting services for more than eight years and support for the LIC’s full range of HPE Software (now Micro Focus) for the last three years. To give the LIC visibility into the performance of their business-critical systems and applications, we provide all the technical expertise to configure the HP BSM environment. JDS continues to support the LIC’s environment, providing assistance in upgrades and enhancements to their system and the day-to-day running of their software.

JDS has become a key partner in the LIC’s monitoring, event management, and automation teams and we regularly supplement their skills as required to build, configure, and enhance their monitoring technologies. In recent times, we have implemented OMi and migrated the LIC’s OMW instance to OMi.

As part of this project, JDS setup the integrations with third-party systems such as MS SCOM, Nagios, Solarwinds, Dell Foglight, IBM Tivoli, as well as HPE UCMDB, and HPE BSM. JDS also built the two-way integration (using HPE’s recommended method of groovy script and web services) with the LIC’s service desk tool (USD, Axios Assist, and most recently ServiceNow) and setup rules for incident ticket creations.

Without the assistance of JDS, we would not have been able to grow and mature our internal service offering and would be nowhere near as advanced as we are today.
IT ManagerLarge superannuation company

A Large Superannuation Company (LSC)

ITOM Monitoring, CMDB & ITSM

In 2015, JDS Australia was selected by the LSC to implement their replacement Enterprise ITSM and Monitoring platform. The LSC has relied on the best practice and technical expertise provided by JDS to architect, implement, administer, and maintain:

  • An enterprise event management and monitoring strategy across all of the technology for the LSC
  • An enterprise ops bridge/event management solution with market leading event correlation and event handling capabilities (based on HP OMi)
  • Monitoring solutions at all levels, including complex end-user monitoring (both real-user and synthetic), integration/API level monitoring as well as infrastructure/network/database monitoring solutions
  • Third-party monitoring solutions where specialist monitoring requirements complement and enhance the existing HP enterprise framework
  • Tight integrations with:
    • Other monitoring solutions to centralise and normalise all monitoring events into the enterprise ops bridge
    • The enterprise service desk solution (including automated incident ticket creation, assignment, updates, etc. driven by monitoring events)
    • An escalation management solution (via the enterprise ops bridge) to provide a consistent and traceable event escalation management solution for business hours and on-call support teams
  • Dashboard/presentation solutions for both ITSM and monitoring solutions to provide near real–time views that are relevant to all levels of business/technical users at the LSC
  • Training and mentoring of LSC internal teams for enterprise monitoring and event management (at both a business and technical level)
  • On-site business hours support and 24/7 off-site technical support with LSC specific incident response and resolution capability
  • Customised monitoring policies and integrations where no OOTB solution meets LSC requirements
  • Configuration management solutions providing CI discovery and IT Service mapping that underpin key integrations and ability to perform event/change impact analysis
  • Automation solutions (using HPOO and other toolsets and customisations) to automate manual processes that are error prone when done manually and/or resource/time-saving for the LSC

JDS has a current three-year contract to perform the day-to-day maintenance, support, and expansion of the LSC’s ITSM and Enterprise Event Management/Monitoring platform.

JDS Australia has provided invaluable support for us over the last few years. They have operated both remotely and on-site as part of our team. Their personnel have been able to operate across strategy and planning, installation and configuration, standing up of services, documentation, training and upskilling of company staff, and regular and out-of-hours support.
IT ManagerLarge superannuation company

Get supported

If you are looking for support for a current technical project, or simply want access to ongoing support for your environment, contact JDS today. Our expert team of local support consultants can provide you with personal service, fast issue resolution, and expedited ticket raising with our vendor partners.

Recent success stories

Support Stories Part 2: Remove the burden of administrative IT tasks

Interruptions in service and performance issues put a significant amount of stress on IT teams. Whether it’s your internal users who face these roadblocks, or your end users/customers, problems with your services can lead to brand damage and loss of customers. Not only that, but resolving problems with your service can often take a huge amount of time and resources away from other projects.

That’s where JDS support comes in. Our team of local, Australia-based support consultants provide IT management, monitoring, and support services to customers all around the country, ensuring their environments function properly and their systems perform as needed. This allows your team to focus on business services and innovative projects by removing the burden of administrative IT tasks.

We have provided both temporary and ongoing support solutions for companies in a broad variety of industries, over a range of timeframes. In Part 1 of our Support Stories, we discussed the services we provided on an automation project and a service manager project. In Part 2, we have two more case studies featuring a large mining company and a respected Australian university.

Mining Company Case Study

A large mining company (LMC) handed over their Health Check System to Support to ensure the LMC’s applications were up and running. A request came in as a priority 2 where BSM was needed to analyse performance issues on their Sharepoint application, for which the script wasn't maintained and was failing consistently. This presented challenges as our consultants had to upskill quickly in Vugen (required to rework the script), and get a good grasp of the LMC’s environment, which was being slow and unstable (application crashing).

To start with, we had to re-work a script that was known to be problematic. Once that was fixed, the LMC would be able to use BSM to troubleshoot performance issues tied to the application.​

We treated this issue as a high priority and focused on finding a solution from the day the work was raised and approved from the LMC’s end. As part of this process, our team tapped into multiple knowledge sources to ensure that had all the information required to deliver a successful outcome for the LMC. To ensure proper expectations were set and met, we were in constant communication and providing updates to our stakeholders.

Ultimately, we raised the issue with our support team lead, who assisted in setting up a meeting internally to discuss the best way to go forward (whether it was best to get a consultant to go on-site or continue working on the issue, what needed to be done, who to contact or get involved, etc.) We ma​d​e use of all the resources available, such as logging high priority tickets with the vendor and checking the broad range of JDS staff resources to see who was able to assist.

As the project took longer than expected due to circumstances beyond the client’s control, we agreed on a reduced fee for the number of hours worked. ​In the end, we were able to fix the script after two weeks, and the client was pleased with the result and continues to engage JDS Support for its ongoing monitoring and performance checking needs.

University Case Study

A respected Australian university (RAU) had ingested some data sources into Splunk and the performance was degrading, which meant that data was not coming into the system. Because of this problem, they were not able to use Splunk to its full capacity.

Initially, the JDS support team disabled the inputs in Splunk to stop the degradation of the performance. However, that in of itself, did not solve the original issue and there was still the task of integrating new data sources into Splunk remaining.

Our remote support engineer engaged Splunk Support on behalf of the RAU. A JDS consultant and the support engineer also went on-site to the RAU to work directly with the client and collected logs and performance metrics for the support case—this was a special case, where the needs of the customer warranted an on-site visit that wouldn’t normally be included in their support plan.

Splunk Support suggested some solutions and we tested it in our own environment before going back to the RAU to implement the solution.

In the end, we were able to ingest all the data sources that the RAU needed and also improve performance on the servers.

Get supported

Are you looking for temporary or ongoing support for your environment? JDS provides a range of support packages and plans to suit the needs of a variety of businesses. Find out more by viewing our support page or email us at [email protected] with your enquiry. If you are a current JDS customer, you can get in touch directly with your account manager to find out what support solutions would benefit you.

Our team on the case

Recent success stories

Support Stories Part 1: JDS provides local and efficient support in Australia

In addition to exceptional professional services and IT implementation, JDS provides both temporary and ongoing support for our clients. Our team of local, specialist support consultants ensures that clients receive fast issue resolution or assistance raising a ticket with vendors if issues cannot be immediately resolved in-house. However, we are proud to resolve more than half of the calls regarding system or software issues without needing to escalate to the vendor, and many incidents are resolved in the first phone call.

Over the years, our support team has provided assistance to hundreds of clients. In Part 1 of this two-part case study, members of the support team recall issues they have helped to resolve or new processes they have introduced to make life easier for in-house support teams.

Automation Case Study

JDS was engaged by a client, a government business enterprise who is known as the leader of reusable energy in Australia, to provide on-demand support for the automation of its IT operations. One of the requirements fulfilled was to automate the process for a particular type of service request, which processes emails sent to ServiceNow and automates the assignment of service providers and assignment groups.

This allows the team responsible for the delivery of the service to free up their capacity from manual administrative tasks such as going through emails and manually assigning jobs to relevant parties.

The solution JDS support delivered uses an Inbound Email Action to handle the key words identified in the subject of the incoming emails and automates the process of placing a Service Catalog order, which then triggers the workflow to automate the assignment of relevant service groups according to pre-defined criteria.

Using the latest best practice development methodologies, JDS was able to deliver this in only seven billable support hours. Along with efficiency, the implementation was delivered with:

  • ServiceNow platform best practice
  • Use of Agile methodology
  • Emphasis on clean code

Service Manager Case Study

As part of an ongoing support arrangement with a Queensland Government Organisation (QGO), JDS supported the on-premises HP Service Manager 9.4x instance. Over an extended period of time, several issues arose which were marked as resolved in the newer version, so it was deemed advisable to upgrade to the 9.50 version of the product. However, the QGO had previously had bad experiences with SM upgrades due to unforeseen compatibility issues and other problems, which had forced some upgrades to be rolled back or left in an incomplete state.

Since the issues were not going to be resolved in the existing version, the JDS support team collated a list of the existing tickets which were to be fixed in 9.50 and undertook a project to complete the upgrade on our own test environment and find any problems before beginning work on the client environment.

We took a copy of our existing Service Manager test instance and began making modifications to reproduce the QGO’s environment as closely as possible. The first phase involved testing to make sure that each issue was reproduced in our test environment and produced the expected results. After this, we began the upgrade process and documented any difficulties we encountered, then applied the appropriate patches and went through our testing process again.

By running through this upgrade in our test environment, we were able to ensure a smooth upgrade for our customer and be ready with solutions already planned out for any hiccups along the way. We were also able to independently verify that each reported issue was resolved with the new version so that we could manage customer expectations and have full confidence in our recommendations.

Get supported

Are you looking for temporary or ongoing support for your environment? JDS provides a range of support packages and plans to suit the needs of a variety of businesses. Find out more by viewing our support page or email us at [email protected] with your enquiry. If you are a current JDS customer, you can get in touch directly with your account manager to find out what support solutions would benefit you.

Our team on the case

JDS partners with PagerDuty on William Hill digital transformation

JDS Australia is excited to announce its new technology partnership with PagerDuty, a leading provider of digital operations management. JDS and PagerDuty are working with the online betting platform, William Hill, to achieve a 100% availability rate of its online betting services, putting them ahead of the competition in ensuring the highest levels of customer service by preventing downtime.


"We see great opportunity for PagerDuty in Australia and are proud to commence a partnership so early on in the company's growth journey here. It's been a privilege to work with the team at William Hill, which has been both visionary and committed to extracting the most out of PagerDuty's technological innovation, and from our localised experience," said John Bearsley, Managing Director of JDS Australia.

With JDS's domain expertise in application monitoring and incident response, we led a competitive evaluation and proof of concept for William Hill earlier this year, showing how PagerDuty could improve their performance and availability while also cutting down on some of their manual processes. JDS worked with William Hill to quickly implement the solution, which was an integral part of the operations team’s visibility and incident response during the spring racing carnival.

"For most organisations, 99.9% availability is adequate, but not for us, we want 100% uptime and that’s why we’ve put PagerDuty at the heart of our digital transformation and cloud migration strategy," said Alan Alderson, Head of Infrastructure and Operations, at William Hill Australia. "Incidents happen, every business knows that, but with PagerDuty as an integral partner in our digital and cloud journey, we have the right technology to preempt and manage how you respond to them. We want to instil exceptional operational efficiency throughout our teams to actively manage business and consumer expectations so we have standardised on the PagerDuty Digital Operations Management Platform."

PagerDuty integrates with all of our key vendor partners—Splunk, ServiceNow, AppDynamics, and Micro Focus—as well as more than 200 other technologies and systems. This makes it a perfect fit for our customers, who often have complex technology stacks that need constant monitoring to ensure consistent performance and availability.

JDS is a technology partner and official reseller of PagerDuty, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with them to demonstrate the technology’s innovative capabilities to a wider range of Australian businesses. If you are interested in PagerDuty, learn more about the technology and our capabilities on the PagerDuty webpage. Alternatively, contact us to find out how it would benefit your business specifically.

About PagerDuty

PagerDuty is the leading digital operations management platform for businesses. Through its SaaS-based platform, PagerDuty empowers developers, DevOps, IT operations and business leaders to prevent and resolve business-impacting incidents for exceptional customer experience. More than 10,000 small, mid-size and enterprise global customers such as Lululemon, IBM and Panasonic use and trust PagerDuty to maximize their time and increase their business response and efficiency. When revenue and brand reputation depends on customer satisfaction, PagerDuty arms businesses with the insight to proactively manage incidents and events that may impact customers across their IT environment. Headquartered in San Francisco, with regional offices in Toronto, Sydney and London, the company was recently listed in the 2016 Deloitte Technology Fast 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 2017 Cloud 100 lists. Try PagerDuty for free at www.pagerduty.com. Follow our blog and connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook. PagerDuty is a registered trademark of PagerDuty, Inc. in the United States.

About JDS Australia

JDS is a market leader in supporting the end-to-end application lifecycle. We have nearly 15 years of experience optimising performance and availability for a wide range of Australian and international businesses, using a variety of industry-leading tools. As attested experts in IT services and support, JDS is the trusted partner of choice for leading Australian organisations.

At JDS, our purpose is to ensure your IT systems work wherever, however, and whenever they are needed. Our expert consultants will help you identify current or potential business issues, and then develop customised solutions to suit you.

JDS is different from other providers in the market. We offer 24/7 monitoring capabilities and support throughout the entire application lifecycle. We give your IT Operations team visibility into the health of your IT systems, enabling them to identify and resolve issues quickly.

We are passionate about what we do, working seamlessly with you to ensure you are getting the best possible performance from your environment.

Our team on the case

How synthetic monitoring will improve application performance for a large bank

JDS is currently working with several businesses across Australia to implement our custom synthetic monitoring solution, Active Robot Monitoring—powered by Splunk. ARM is a simple and effective way of maintaining the highest quality customer experience with minimal cost. While other synthetic monitoring solutions operate on price-per-transaction model, ARM allows you to conduct as many transactions as you want using under the umbrella of your Splunk investment. We recently developed a Splunk ARM solution for one of the largest banks in Australia and are in the process of implementing it. Find out more about the problem presented, our proposed solution, and the expected results below.


The problem

A large Australian bank (‘the Bank’) needs to properly monitor the end-to-end activity of its core systems/applications. This is to ensure that the applications are available and performing as expected at all times. Downtime or poor performance, even for only a few minutes, could potentially result in great loss of revenue and reputation damage. While unscheduled downtime or performance degradation will inevitably occur at some point, the Bank wants to be notified immediately of any performance issues. They also want to identify the root cause of the problem easily, resolve the issue, and restore expected performance and availability as quickly as possible. To achieve this, the Bank approached JDS for a solution to monitor, help triage, and highlight error conditions and abnormal performance.

The solution

JDS proposed implementing the JDS Active Robot Monitoring (ARM) Splunk application. ARM is a JDS-developed Splunk application which utilises scripts written in a variety of languages (e.g. Selenium) with custom built Splunk dashboards. In this case, Selenium is used to emulate actual users interacting with the web application. These interactions or transactions will be used to determine if the application is available, whether a critical function of the application is working properly, and what the performance of the application is like. All that information will be recorded in Splunk and used for analysis.

Availability and performance metrics will be displayed in dashboards, which fulfils several purposes—namely providing management with a summary view of the status of applications and support personnel with more information to help identify the root cause of the problem efficiently. In this case, Selenium was chosen as it provides for complete customisations not available in other similar offerings in the synthetic monitoring segment, and when coupled with Splunk’s analytical and presentation capability, provides the best solution to address the Bank’s problem.

The expected results

With the implementation of the JDS ARM application at the Bank, availability, and performance of their core applications is expected to improve and remain at a higher standard. Downtime, if it occurs, will be quickly rectified as support personnel will be alerted immediately and have access to all the vital data required to do a root cause analysis of the problem quickly. Management will have a better understanding of the health of the application and will be able to assign valuable resources more effectively to work on it.

What can ARM do for your business?

Throughout the month of November 2017, JDS is open to registrations for a free on-site workshop at your business. We will discuss Active Robot Monitoring and how it could benefit your organisation specifically. To register for this exclusive opportunity,  please enter your information below and one of our account executives will contact you to set up a time to meet at your location.

By clicking this button, you submit your information to JDS Australia, who will use it to communicate with you about this request and their other services.

Our team on the case

Case Study: Netwealth bolster their security with Splunk

The prompt and decision

"As a financial services organisation, information security and system availability are core to the success of our business. With the business growing, we needed a solution that was scalable and which allowed our team to focus on high-value management tasks rather than on data collection and review."

Information security is vital to modern organisations, and particularly for those that deal in sensitive data, such as Netwealth. It is essential to actively assess software applications for security weaknesses to prevent exploitation and access by third parties, who could otherwise extract confidential and proprietary information. Security monitoring looks for abnormal behaviours and trends that could indicate a security breach.

"The continued growth of the business and the increased sophistication of threats prompted us to look for a better way to bring together our security and IT operations information and events," explains Chris Foong, Technology Infrastructure Manager at Netwealth. "Advancements in the technology available in this space over the last few years meant that a number of attractive options were available."

The first stage in Netwealth’s project was to select the right tool for the job, with several options short-listed. Each of these options was pilot tested, to establish which was the best fit to the requirements—and Splunk, with its high versatility and ease of use, was the selected solution.

The power in the solution comes from Splunk’s ability to combine multiple real-time data flows with machine learning and analysis which prioritises threats and actions, and the use of dynamic visual correlations and on-demand custom queries to more easily triage threats. Together, this empowers IT to make informed decisions.

Objective

Netwealth’s business objective was to implement a security information and event management (‘SIEM’) compliant tool to enhance management of security vulnerabilities and reporting. Their existing tool no longer met the expanding needs of the business, and so they looked to Splunk and JDS to provide a solution.

Approach

Netwealth conducted a proof of concept with various tools, and Splunk was selected. JDS Australia, as Splunk Implementation Partner, provided licensing and expertise.

IT improvements

Implementing Splunk monitoring gave Netwealth enhanced visibility over their security environment, and the movement of sensitive data through the business. This enabled them to triage security events and vulnerabilities in real time.

About Netwealth

Founded in 1999, Netwealth was established to provide astute investors and wealth professionals with a better way to invest, protect and manage their current and future wealth. As a business, Netwealth seeks to enable, educate and inspire Australians to see wealth differently and to discover a brighter future.

Netwealth offers a range of innovative portfolio administration, superannuation, retirement, investment, and managed account solutions to investors and non-institutional intermediaries including financial advisers, private clients, and high net worth firms.

Industry

Financial Services

Primary applications

  • Office365
  • Fortigate
  • IIS
  • Juniper SRX
  • Microsoft DNS
  • Microsoft AD and ADFS (Active Directory Federation Services)
  • JBoss (Java EE Application Server)
  • Fortinet

Primary software

  • Splunk Enterprise
  • Splunk Enterprise Security (application add-on)

The process

Now that Splunk had been identified as the best tool for the job, it was time to find an Implementation Partner—and that’s where JDS came in. JDS, as the most-certified Australian Splunk partner, was the natural choice. "JDS provided Splunk licensing, expertise on integrating data sources, and knowledge transfer to our internal team," says Foong.  

An agile, project managed approach was taken.  

  1. Understand the business requirements and potential threats associated with Netwealth’s environment.
  2. Identify the various services that required security monitoring.
  3. Identify the data feed for those services.
  4. Deploy and configure core Splunk.
  5. Deploy the Enterprise Security application onto Splunk.
  6. Configure the Enterprise Security application to enable features. These features gave visibility into areas of particular concern.
JDS provided Splunk licensing, expertise on integrating data sources, and knowledge transfer to our internal team.
Chris FoongTechnology Infrastructure Manager
The JDS team worked well with our team, were knowledgeable about the product, and happy to share that knowledge with our team.
JDS are professional. They delivered what they said they would, and didn’t under- or over-sell themselves. They’ve provided ongoing support and advice beyond the end of the project. We would work with them again.

The JDS difference

For this project, JDS "assisted Netwealth in deploying and configuring Splunk, and gaining confidence in Splunk Enterprise Security," explains the JDS Consultant on the case. "We were engaged as a trusted partner with Splunk, and within hours of deployment, we had helped Netwealth to gain greater visibility of the environment."

JDS were able to leverage their Splunk expertise to give added value to the client, advising them on how to gain maximum value in terms of both project staging, and in the onboarding of new applications. "We advocated a services approach—start by designing the dashboard you want, and work backwards towards the data required to build that dashboard."

"The JDS team worked well with our team, were knowledgeable about the product, and happy to share that knowledge with our team," says Netwealth’s Chris Foong. "They delivered what they said they would, and didn’t under- or over-sell themselves. We would work with them again."

End results

Chris Foong says that Netwealth was looking for "improved visibility over security and IT operations information and events, to aid in faster response and recovery"—and the project was a success on all counts.

"The project was delivered on time and to budget, and Splunk is now capturing data from all the required sources," adds Foong. "We also identified a number of additional use cases, over and above the base Enterprise Security case, such as rapidly troubleshooting performance degradation."

Now that Netwealth has implemented Splunk, the software has further applicability across the business. The next step is continuing to leverage Splunk, and JDS will be there to help.

Business Benefits

  • Gave Netwealth better visibility into the organisation’s security posture
  • Presents the opportunity for leveraging of Splunk in other areas of the business; for example, marketing
  • Allows Netwealth to have greater visibility into application and business statistics, with the potential to overlay machine learning and advanced statistical analysis of this business information
The project was certainly a success, and Splunk is working well in our environment.

The benefits of performance testing ServiceNow


First things first...

What is performance testing?

Performance testing ensures your platform and custom code perform under expected production loads and that response times from locations around the world meet your expectations. At its heart, testing lets you know whether your IT systems, software, or application is doing what you expect it to do, how you expect it to be done.

Why should you do performance testing?

We have all seen what happens when things go wrong with an IT system. From the crashing of the Click Frenzy sale in 2016, to the recent complete shutdown of a major Australian train network during peak hour, the result of poor performance testing for a business is embarrassing at best—and can be disastrous at worst.

Performance testing will give you confidence that when people turn to your system, it won't turn them away. It does so by ensuring your system functions as it should under a variety of scenarios and loads.

Why JDS?

JDS has more than ten years of experience doing performance testing with a variety of systems, and one of our key vendor partners is ServiceNow. We are ServiceNow's global partner of choice for testing the performance and availability of their platform. JDS has a large pool of performance testing experts with extensive experience in performance testing ITSM implementations as well as customisations.

How has JDS helped businesses with ServiceNow?

JDS has provided ServiceNow support and performance testing for dozens of businesses throughout Australia and around the world. Here are two specific accounts of how we have helped identify issues through performance testing and solved them for our clients:

ServiceNow Global Use Example

Client #1 had users based in three countries around the world (Australia, USA, and Germany). When issues were raised in one part of the world, they would be investigated and resolved in another, which meant the platform had to be able to support multiple peak periods 24/7. JDS was engaged to ensure that during their busiest period, the ServiceNow platform would support all their user activity.

To start, we spoke with Client #1 to clearly define their needs and walk through the custom processes they were implementing. Then we created a test plan that outlined what we were testing and how. The test plan showed the steps that test users would make in the system to raise, approve, implement, and close tickets.

In collaboration with the ServiceNow load test team, JDS simulated load (i.e. user activity) on the platform from different locations around the world. We raised, approved, updated, progressed, and closed tickets for incident, problem and change management. Test users also browsed knowledgebase articles and the service portal.

By conducting this testing, we were able to show that ServiceNow would support all of Client #1’s users during their busy periods, and that there was extra head room to grow. This testing gave the client confidence that their ServiceNow platform would meet their current and future needs.

ServiceNow Custom Code Example

This client had developed a customised form, based on a Service Catalog request, which helped them manage their internal batch operations and server restarts. Sometimes these requests were submitted without much lead time and needed to be approved and implemented as soon as possible.

During functional testing, the form worked just as intended; however, there was a performance bottleneck lurking in the custom code. This bottleneck would delay the progress of important tickets, and only show itself under load. While a single user could complete the process quickly, multiple users concurrently raising tickets would experience a delay in progressing their tickets. If users had an urgent ticket raised, the approver wouldn’t be notified until it was possibly too late.

To help them identify the problem and find a solution, JDS simulated hundreds of users raising incidents, creating change requests, and lodging problem tickets, as well as using the new custom form. We noticed that tickets raised while under load experienced some long delays in getting approvals.

Further analysis of the approval workflow allowed us to isolate the problem. We were then able to point the development team to the issue, and they quickly created a patch to fix it.

By testing the whole platform under expected load, JDS was able to isolate issues with custom code that would otherwise have been found in production (i.e. by frustrated users). Instead, the patch was applied, and the retest confirmed that important tickets would get to the right people in time.

Conclusion

No matter the size of your business, or the complexity of your ServiceNow requirements, the performance testing provided by JDS Australia will give you peace of mind knowing your system can function under a variety of circumstances—both within and outside your control.

To find out more about getting performance testing support for your ServiceNow platform, contact us at [email protected] or call 1300 780 432.

Our team on the case

Need performance testing support?

If you have any questions about ServiceNow performance testing, please feel free to contact JDS.

Implementing an electronic signature in ALM


 

This is where organisations like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration in the United States) and TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia) come in, enforcing regulatory controls around all aspects of the manufacturing process to minimise risk and ensure a high level of quality.

These regulatory bodies understand that effective quality assurance goes much further than just regulating the raw materials and manufacturing process. Any software used to control or support the manufacturing process must also adhere to strict quality standards, because a bug in the software can lead to problems in manufacturing with real-world consequences for patients. Software quality assurance can therefore literally be a matter of life or death l.

To ensure that medical manufacturers conduct satisfactory software testing and maintain the required quality assurance standards, the FDA have published the General Principles of Software Validation document which “outlines general validation principles that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers to be applicable to the validation of medical device software or the validation of software used to design, develop, or manufacture medical devices.”

The JDS solution

JDS Australia recently implemented HPE Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) for one of our clients, a manufacturer of medicine delivering more than 10,000 patient doses per week to hospitals in Australia and overseas. ALM is a software testing tool that assists with the end-to-end management of the software testing lifecycle. This includes defining functional and non-functional requirements for a given application and creating test cases to confirm those requirements are met. It also manages all aspects of test execution, the recording and managing of defects, and reporting across the entire testing effort. ALM enables an organisation to implement and enforce their test strategy in a controlled and structured manner, while providing a complete audit trail of all the testing that was performed.

To comply with the FDA requirements, our client required customisation of ALM to facilitate approvals and sign-off of various testing artefacts (test cases, test executions, and defects). The FDA stipulates that approvals must incorporate an electronic signature that validates the user’s identity to ensure the integrity of the process. As an out-of-the-box implementation, ALM does not provide users with the ability to electronically sign artefacts. JDS developed the eSignature add-in to provide this capability and ensure that our client conforms to the regulatory requirements of the FDA.

The JDS eSignature Add-in was developed in C# and consists of a small COM-aware dll file that is installed and registered on the client machine together with the standard ALM client. The eSignature component handles basic field-level checks and credential validation, while all other business rules are managed from the ALM Workflow Customisation. This gives JDS the ability to implement the electronic signature requirements as stipulated by the FDA, while giving us the flexibility to develop customer-specific customisations and implement future enhancements without the need to recompile and reinstall the eSignature component.

Let’s look at a simple test manager approval for a test case to see how it works.

To start with, new “approval” custom fields are added to the Test Plan module which may contain data such as the approval status, a reason/comment and the date and time that the approval was made. These fields are read-only with their values set through the eSignature Workflow customisation. A new “Approve Test” button is added to the toolbar. When the user clicks this button, the Test Approvals form is presented to the user who selects the appropriate approval status, provides a comment, and enters their credentials. When the OK button is clicked, the eSignature component authenticates the user in ALM using an API function from the HPE Open Test Architecture (OTA) COM library.

If the user is successfully authenticated, eSignature passes the relevant information to the ALM workflow script which sets the appropriate field values. The approvals functionality can be further customised to do things such as making the test case read-only or sending an email to the next approver in line to review and approve the test case.

As it currently stands, the eSignature has been implemented in three modules of ALM – Test Plan for test cases that require two levels of review and approval, Test Lab for test execution records that require three levels of review and approval, and Defects to manage the assignment and approvals of defects. This can easily be expanded to include other modules, such as the approvals of test requirements or software releases.

The JDS eSignature add-in has a very small footprint, is easy to install and configure, and provides our clients with the ability to effectively implement an electronic signature capability as part of their software testing strategy.

If you have compliance requirements or are seeking ways to automate your test management processes, contact our support team at JDS Australia. Our consultants are highly skilled across a range of software suites and IT platforms, and we will work with your business to develop custom solutions that work for you.

Contact us at:

T: 1300 780 432

E: [email protected]

Our team on the case

Why choose JDS?

At JDS, our purpose is to ensure your IT systems work wherever, however, and whenever they are needed. Our expert consultants will help you identify current or potential business issues, and then develop customised solutions to suit you.

JDS is different from other providers in the market. We offer 24/7 monitoring capabilities and support throughout the entire application lifecycle. We give your IT Operations team visibility into the health of your IT systems, enabling them to identify and resolve issues quickly.

We are passionate about what we do, working seamlessly with you to ensure you are getting the best possible performance from your environment. All products sold by JDS are backed by our local Tier One support desk, ensuring a stress-free solution for the entire product lifecycle.

The Splunk Gardener

The Splunk wizards at JDS are a talented bunch, dedicated to finding solutions—including in unexpected places. So when Sydney-based consultant Michael Clayfield suffered the tragedy of some dead plants in his garden, he did what our team do best: ensure it works (or ‘lives’, in this case). Using Splunk’s flexible yet powerful capabilities, he implemented monitoring, automation, and custom reporting on his herb garden, to ensure that tragedy didn’t strike twice.

My herb garden consists of three roughly 30cm x 40cm pots, each containing a single plant—rosemary, basil, and chilli. The garden is located outside our upstairs window and receives mostly full sunlight. While that’s good for the plants, it makes it harder to keep them properly watered, particularly during the summer months. After losing my basil and chilli bush over Christmas break, I decided to automate the watering of my three pots, to minimise the chance of losing any more plants. So I went away and designed an auto-watering setup, using soil moisture sensors, relays, pumps, and an Arduino—an open-source electronic platform—to tie it all together.

Testing the setup by transferring water from one bottle to another.
Testing the setup by transferring water from one bottle to another.

I placed soil moisture sensors in the basil and the chilli pots—given how hardy the rosemary was, I figured I could just hook it up to be watered whenever the basil in the pot next to it was watered. I connected the pumps to the relays, and rigged up some hosing to connect the pumps with their water source (a 10L container) and the pots. When the moisture level of a pot got below a certain level, the Arduino would turn the equivalent pump on and water it for a few seconds. This setup worked well—the plants were still alive—except that I had no visibility over what was going on. All I could see was that the water level in the tank was decreasing. It was essential that the tank always had water in it, otherwise I'd ruin my pumps by pumping air.

To address this problem, I added a float switch to the tank, as I was aiming to set it up so I could stop pumping air if I forgot to fill up the tank. Using a WiFi adapter, I connected the Arduino to my home WiFi. Now that the Arduino was connected to the internet, I figured I should send the data into Splunk. That way I'd be able to set up an alert notifying me when the tank’s water level was low. I'd also be able to track each plant’s moisture levels.

The setup deployed: the water tank is on the left; the yellow cables coming from the tank are for the float switch; and the plastic container houses the pumps and the Arduino, with the red/blue/black wires going to the sensors planted in the soil of the middle (basil) and right (chilli) pots. Power is supplied via the two black cables, which venture back inside the house to a phone charger.
The setup deployed: the water tank is on the left; the yellow cables coming from the tank are for the float switch; and the plastic container houses the pumps and the Arduino, with the red/blue/black wires going to the sensors planted in the soil of the middle (basil) and right (chilli) pots. Power is supplied via the two black cables, which venture back inside the house to a phone charger.

Using the Arduino’s Wifi library, it’s easy to send data to a TCP port. This means that all I needed to do to start collecting data in Splunk was to set up a TCP data input. Pretty quickly I had sensor data from both my chilli and basil plants, along with the tank’s water status. Given how simple it was, I decided to add a few other sensors to the Arduino: temperature, humidity, and light level. With all this information nicely ingested into Splunk, I went about creating a dashboard to display the health of my now over-engineered garden.

The overview dashboard for my garden. The top left and centre show current temperature and humidity, including trend, while the top right shows the current light reading. The bottom left and centre show current moisture reading and the last time each plant was watered. The final panel in the bottom right gives the status of the tank's water level.
The overview dashboard for my garden. The top left and centre show current temperature and humidity, including trend, while the top right shows the current light reading. The bottom left and centre show current moisture reading and the last time each plant was watered. The final panel in the bottom right gives the status of the tank's water level.

With this data coming in, I was able to easily understand what was going on with my plants:

  1. I can easily see the effect watering has on my plants, via the moisture levels (lower numbers = more moisture). I generally aim to maintain the moisture level between 300 and 410. Over 410 and the soil starts getting quite dry, while putting the moisture probe in a glass of water reads 220—so it’s probably best to keep it well above that.
  2. My basil was much thirstier than my chilli bush, requiring about 50–75% more water.
  3. It can get quite hot in the sun on our windowsill. One fortnight in February recorded nine 37+ degree days, with the temperature hitting 47 degrees twice during that period.
  4. During the height of summer, the tank typically holds 7–10 days’ worth of water.

Having this data in Splunk also alerts me to when the system isn't working properly. On one occasion in February, I noticed that my dashboard was consistently displaying that the basil pot had been watered within the last 15 minutes. After a few minutes looking at the data, I was able to figure out what was going on.

Using the above graph from my garden’s Splunk dashboard, I could see that my setup had correctly identified that the basil pot needed to be watered and had watered it—but I wasn't seeing the expected change in the basil’s moisture level. So the next time the system checked the moisture level, it saw that the plant needed to be watered, watered it again, and the cycle continued. When I physically checked the system, I could see that the Arduino was correctly setting the relay and turning the pump on, but no water was flowing. After further investigation, I discovered that the pump had died. Once I had replaced the faulty pump, everything returned to normal.

Since my initial design, I have upgraded the system a few times. It now joins a number of other Arduinos I have around the house, sending data via cheap radio transmitters to a central Arduino that then forwards the data on to Splunk. Aside from the pump dying, the garden system has been functioning well for the past six months, providing me with data that I will use to continue making the system a bit smarter about how and when it waters my plants.

I've also 3D printed a nice case in UV-resistant plastic, so my gardening system no longer has to live in an old lunchbox.

Our team on the case

Using Splunk and Active Robot Monitoring to resolve website issues

Recently, one of JDS’ clients reached out for assistance, as they were experiencing inconsistent website performance. They had just moved to a new platform, and were receiving alerts about unexpectedly slow response times, as well as intermittent logon errors. They were concerned that, were the reports accurate, this would have an adverse impact on customer retention, and potentially reduce their ability to attract new customers. When manual verification couldn’t reproduce the issues, they called in one of JDS’ sleuths to try to locate and fix the problem—if one existed at all.

The Plot Thickens

The client’s existing active robot monitoring solution using the HPE Business Process Monitor (BPM) suite showed that there were sporadic difficulties in loading pages on the new platform and in logging in, but the client was unable to replicate the issue manually. If there was an issue, where exactly did it lie?

Commencing the Investigation

The client had deployed Splunk and it was ingesting logs from the application in question—but its features were not being utilised to investigate the issue.

JDS consultant Danesen Narayanen entered the fray and was able to use Splunk to analyse the data received. He could therefore immediately understand the issue the client was experiencing. He confirmed that the existing monitoring solution was reporting the problem accurately, and that the issue had not been affecting the client’s website prior to the re-platform

Using the data collected by HPE BPM as a starting point, Danesen was able to drill down and compare what was happening with the current system on the new platform to what had been happening on the old one. He quickly made several discoveries:

1. There appeared to be some kind of server error.

Since the re-platform, there had been a spike in a particular server error. Our JDS consultant reviewed data from the previous year, to see whether the error had happened before. He noted that there had previously been similar issues, and validated them against BPM to determine that the past errors had not had a pronounced effect on BPM—the spike in server errors seemed to be a symptom, rather than a cause.

Database deadlocks were spiking.
Database deadlocks were spiking
It was apparent that the error had happened before

2. There seemed to be an issue with user-end response time.

Next, our consultant used Splunk to look at the response time by IP addresses over time, to see if there was a particular location being affected—was the problem at server end, or user end? He identified one particular IP address which had a very high response time. What’s more, this was a public IP address, rather than one internal to the client. It seemed like there was a end-user problem—but what was the IP address that was causing BPM to report an issue?

Daily response time for all IPs (left axis), and for the abnormal IP (right axis). All times are in seconds.
Daily response time for all IPs (left axis), and for the abnormal IP (right axis). All times are in seconds.

Tracking Down the Mystery IP Address

At this point our consultant called for the assistance of another JDS staff member, to track down who owned the problematic IP address. As it turned out, the IP address was owned by the client, and was being used by a security tool running vulnerability checks on the website. After the re-platform, the tool had gone rogue: rather than running for half an hour after the re-platform, it continued to open a number of new web sessions throughout the day for several days.

The Resolution

Now that the culprit had been identified, the team were quickly able to log in to the security tool to turn it off, and the problem disappeared. Performance and availability times returned to what they should be, BPM was no longer reporting issues, and the client’s website was running smoothly once more. Thanks to the combination of Splunk’s power, HPE's active monitoring tools, and JDS’ analytical and diagnostic experience, resolution was achieved in under a day.

Our team on the case

Why choose JDS?

At JDS, our purpose is to ensure your IT systems work wherever, however, and whenever they are needed. Our expert consultants will help you identify current or potential business issues, and then develop customised solutions to suit you.

JDS is different from other providers in the market. We offer 24/7 monitoring capabilities and support throughout the entire application lifecycle. We give your IT Operations team visibility into the health of your IT systems, enabling them to identify and resolve issues quickly.

We are passionate about what we do, working seamlessly with you to ensure you are getting the best possible performance from your environment. All products sold by JDS are backed by our local Tier One support desk, ensuring a stress-free solution for the entire product lifecycle.

Case Study: Australian Red Cross Blood Service enhances critical application performance

“We depend on technology to deliver essential services to our people and healthcare professionals around the country,” says Wayne Bolton, manager of Applications and Integration Services for the Blood Service. “If our applications are unavailable, slow or not performing as intended, we’re potentially impacting patient care. In this business, time is critical.”

Historically, the Blood Service tested and monitored its infrastructure and applications in a manual, siloed and time-consuming manner. Given the criticality of its services and the highly regulated industry it operates in, the Blood Service needed more insightful information about the quality, performance, and availability of its applications.

Today, the Blood Service has that insight. Over a period of time, it has adopted best practices to gain visibility into its critical business services and understand what its users are experiencing. This was achieved by taking an end-to-end lifecycle approach to optimising applications from pre-production through to post-production or day-to-day operations management. How? By using Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) with HP Quality Center software and HP Functional Testing software in conjunction with HP Application Performance Management including HP LoadRunner software, HP SiteScope software, HP Business Process Monitor software, HP Business Service Management software and HP Diagnostics software.

Objective

Drive improvements in the quality, performance and availability of business-critical services

Approach

Engaged HP Platinum Partner JDS Australia to secure application delivery and perform validation services

IT improvements

  • Obtained single point of truth to for application validation records
  • Unified functional, performance and quality management
  • Gained operational efficiencies by migrating to a paperless testing environment
  • Enhanced the Blood Services’ reputation
  • Provided evidence of a code issue to the application vendor to ensure a timely fix

 

Improved availability

About the Red Cross Blood Service

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service (Blood Services) performs a critical role in Australia’s health system. It provides quality blood products, essential services
and leading-edge research to improve the lives of patients.

A non-profit organisation with more than 4,000 employees, the Blood Service must be ready to respond around the clock to deliver blood and search its extensive records for specialised requirements for particular patients. More than 520,000 Australians are blood donors across 120 collection sites every year.

The organisation’s infrastructure is comprised of a range of servers in two main sites and approximately 40 enterprise applications, of which the mission-critical National Blood Management System (NBMS) has the largest footprint with more than 3,000 users. The performance of its systems is, therefore, a top priority.

Industry

Health

Primary applications

  • ePROGESA (Blood management system)
  • Oracle eBusiness Suite (Financials and Procurement)
  • Chris 21 (Human Resources)
  • Genesys Call Centre Enterprise Software
  • Collection Site Reference Application (CSRA)
  • HP Application Lifecycle Management Solution
  • HP Application Performance Management Solution

Primary hardware

  • IBM P570
  • IBM Blades

Primary software

  • AIX
  • Linux
  • Windows® XP
  • HP Application Lifecycle Management including:
    • HP Quality Center Software
    • HP Functionality Testing Software
  • HP Application Performance Management including:
    • HP LoadRunner Software
    • HP Diagnostics Software
    • HP Business Service Management Software
    • HP Business Process Monitor Software
    • HP SiteScope Software

Regulatory compliance drives change

The catalyst came as a result of the need to be able to demonstrate the validation state of the NBMS to both internal and external auditors.

“In the beginning, we were looking for a solution that would allow us to better manage the validation of the National Blood Management System and meet our compliance obligations,” explains Bolton. “In the past, validations were performed on paper, needed considerable manpower and would often take months to complete. In 2006, we decided to do what we could to automate the process and began looking around for a suitable solution.

“We selected HP based on the solution’s deep functionality, automation capabilities, scalability potential and industry leadership.”

Partnering for success

Understanding that it could reach faster time to value with an implementation partner, the Blood Service engaged JDS Australia (JDS) to assist with the project.

An HP Platinum Partner and winner of coveted HP Software Solutions Partner Excellence Awards for six consecutive years, JDS is regarded as an expert in the field of software testing, application/infrastructure monitoring and service management.

JDS believes that for most organisations getting a partner on-board takes the risks out of deployment and maximises return on software investment. “For the Blood Service, leveraging specialist services from JDS has really paid off. It allowed the organisation to focus on core competencies and strategic direction, while we managed testing and monitoring execution. It also brought something else – a roadmap for the future.”

“Embarking on this project without JDS would have been a difficult, if not an impossible undertaking,” explains Bolton. “With their assistance, we were up and running on HP Quality Center very quickly and had standardised on a central quality platform. We were managing and controlling software requirements and test cases with relative ease. Not long after this, we implemented HP Functional Testing and began functional and regression testing of more than 70 percent of our core business processes.

“For the first time in our history, we had a single source of truth for our testing assets and could much more easily demonstrate our validation efforts to internal and external audit. Our people could go to a central location to access, manage and reuse test cases.

“We gained operational efficiencies by migrating to a paperless testing environment and achieved real-time visibility into our validation progress. Overall, HP Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) unified functional, performance and quality management. It increased visibility and enabled us to better align business and technology requirements.“

Today, there are numerous examples where the Blood Service is realising benefits. “For instance, we can now run execution reports on the validation scripts on our blood manufacturing application in 30 minutes, rather than perhaps spending days recalling paper records from off-site storage,” adds Bolton.

“In addition, when we encountered an issue with HP Functional Testing not recognising a certain JAVA class, we asked JDS for help. They collaborated closely with the HP R&D team and within three weeks a global patch was released. This would not have been possible without the high-level relationship JDS has with HP.”

Broadening the HP horizon

Getting results on the board quickly with quality and compliance management paved the way for the next phase of evolution with HP and JDS. The Blood Service decided to upgrade its NBMS to take advantage of significant technical enhancements.

This third-party application, known as ePROGESA, is used by many blood banks around the world. Yet the Blood Service was cautious in its approach towards the upgrade as it was such a major undertaking and others had experienced issues.

“If we were going to execute this upgrade successfully, it became clear that we needed performance testing,” says Bolton. “We were transitioning from a green-screen application that was not scalable to a new n-tier J2EE environment. It was not a trivial matter and we needed to ensure it would perform as intended when launched.”

Once again, the Blood Service engaged JDS. This time, it was to validate system performance prior to going live on ePROGESA and ensure the vendor was meeting its contractual obligations. JDS leveraged Application Performance Lifecycle solutions including HP LoadRunner to emulate predicted loads and HP LoadRunner Diagnostics to deep-dive into the detail. HP SiteScope was also used to correlate infrastructure metrics while the system was under load.

Bolton says the project was unusually complex, “We were working with three different suppliers - one was responsible for the infrastructure, another handled the application and JDS was looking after performance testing. It made for an interesting working relationship, because we had to marry input from three sources prior to going live.”

Embarking on this project without JDS would have been a difficult, if not an impossible undertaking. With their assistance, we were up and running
We decided to do what we could to automate the process and began looking around for a suitable solution.
Thanks to HP and JDS, we’ve realised the full advantages of adopting a lifecycle management approach to managing our applications – from testing, through to pre-production through to go-live. We’ve mitigated risks, ensured quality and delivered more responsive, stable services to support our users and the organisations mission to improve the lives of patients.
We now proactively know exactly what our end users are experiencing and can detect any performance or availability issues across all key geographic locations.

Predicting and proving system behaviour

“During this time, we had a situation where ePROGESA was simply not performing as intended,” says Bolton. “After evaluating a range of possibilities, we threw more memory at it. When this didn’t yield any results, we began to suspect there could be a bottleneck in the application’s code.”

“When discussing this with JDS, we again turned to HP for answers. We needed to have a detailed look at the problem. Within hours, JDS had isolated the specific line of code that was causing the problem.”

JDS explains, “We used HP LoadRunner in conjunction with HP LoadRunner Diagnostics to deep-dive into the detail and independently ascertain that the performance issues experienced were indeed code-related. It was the silver bullet the Blood Service needed and a patch for ePROGESA was issued.”

Subsequent performance testing and tuning allowed the Blood Service to meet its objectives and deliver response times that were acceptable to the business.

“This gave us the confidence to go live,” says Bolton. “The beauty of HP LoadRunner is that you can draw a line in the sand to benchmark performance and correlate this to what is happening on the hardware. By using it alongside HP LoadRunner diagnostics, you can access all the detailed information you need. This was incredibly valuable and the insight obtained helped us make informed decisions about the readiness of ePROGESA and minimise the risks.”

Monitoring end-user behaviour

Next on the Blood Service’s agenda was enterprise-grade production monitoring. JDS recommended HP Business Service Management (BSM) and associated tools including HP SiteScope, HP Business Process Monitor (BPM) and HP Diagnostics.

These tools were complemented with HP BPM transactions to synthetically gauge end-user performance and availability across its distributed locations and learn of potential issues before end-users were impacted.
Within a short period of deploying these solutions, the Blood Service realised significant operational benefits. “We quickly had evidence to show the business that we were meeting the ePROGESA service levels of 99.98 percent availability,” says Tony Oosterbeek, Acting ICT manager. “Actual response times on business transactions were being met, and in fact, far exceeding expectations. We had an early warning system to resolve issues before our users were impacted. More importantly, we had complete traceability between the performance and availability our end-users experienced.”

Since then, the Blood Service has adopted this same proactive approach to address system availability for other applications including its Collection Site Reference Application – an in-house system used by its national call centre. “Recently, we needed to find out if the application could scale up from 100 to 135 users,” explains Brett Renton, IS Acting operations manager. “HP LoadRunner was put to work and we quickly determined that the user breakpoint would be 180 people. This gave us the confidence we needed to go ahead.”

“Another example of the benefits we are realising with HP Business Service Management (BSM) is with our Oracle™ Financials suite. After we decided to upgrade the software, hardware and database elements to improve performance, we leveraged HP Business Process Monitor (BPM) to better understand the timing issues around business transactions and used this data to justify the cost of the upgrade. It was a really good way to make a clear business case and the results speak for themselves. We now proactively know exactly what our end users are experiencing and can detect any performance or availability issues across all key geographic locations”.

Business Benefits

  • Improved ability to meet regulatory audits by access to validation data in hours rather than days or weeks
  • Achieved availability of 99.8 percent for National Blood Management System (NBMS)
  • Achieved proactive end-user visibility of business transaction times for Oracles™ Financials application
  • Mitigated risks of deploying applications in critical functions

Solid future

Adopting a lifecycle approach to quality, performance and availability of key business applications has enhanced the Blood Services’ capability.

There is now a focus on extending the discipline of validation to other systems, “Although we’ve improved processes in areas including requirements, testing and performance, the greatest outcome is that we have brought all these best practices together. This combination provides collaborative processes and analysis capabilities for traceability and consistent reporting across the lifecycle. It has brought the organisation to a common place that allows us to achieve governance, compliance and accountability at a lower risk.”

“Thanks to HP and JDS, we’ve realised the full advantages of adopting a lifecycle management approach to managing our applications – from testing, through to pre-production through to go-live. We’ve mitigated risks, ensured quality and delivered more responsive, stable services to support our users and the organisations mission to improve the lives of patients,” says Bolton.

Our team on the case

[amoteam max="3" categories="220" item-width="250" item-margin="20" full-width="yes" align="center" panel="right"]

Why choose JDS?

At JDS, our purpose is to ensure your IT systems work wherever, however, and whenever they are needed. Our expert consultants will help you identify current or potential business issues, and then develop customised solutions to suit you.

JDS is different from other providers in the market. We offer 24/7 monitoring capabilities and support throughout the entire application lifecycle. We give your IT Operations team visibility into the health of your IT systems, enabling them to identify and resolve issues quickly.

We are passionate about what we do, working seamlessly with you to ensure you are getting the best possible performance from your environment. All products sold by JDS are backed by our local Tier One support desk, ensuring a stress-free solution for the entire product lifecycle.

Case Study: Flash Group optimises performance of the Global Corporate Challenge Website

In 2009, Flash experienced some performance issues with the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) website—the world’s first virtual health program that encourages corporations to help their employees get active and healthy—that resulted in speed degradation, functionality errors and site downtime

With the number of GCC participants predicted to double in 2010 to 120,000, Flash needed to drive a higher level of application performance and mitigate the risks it had previously. As a result, the company turned to HP Preferred Partner, JDS Australia, for a solution. The company adopted a Business Technology Optimization (BTO) approach to application performance with HP LoadRunner software for predicting the behaviour and performance of the GCC website under load.

Objective

Flash Group wanted to mitigate the risk of performance issues for the launch of the 2010 Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) website.

Approach

Flash engaged HP Preferred Partner, JDS Australia and adopted a Business Technology Optimization (BTO) strategy with HP LoadRunner software to obtain an accurate picture of end-to-end system performance.

IT improvements

  • Ensured the quality and performance of the GCC website for the 2010 programme.
  • Established a standardised procedure for load testing the website.
  • Identified and eliminated performance bottlenecks to tune for better performance.
  • Matured its website development methodology.
  • Raised its profile and credibility as an organisation that produces high-performing, user-friendly websites.
  • Delivered 99.99 per cent uptime on its systems with web servers only reaching 20 percent system capacity, and page response times of less than two seconds which resulted in a high-quality user experience and enhanced the programme’s brand value.

About Flash Group

Flash Group (Flash) is one of Australia’s fastest growing full-service advertising agencies, offering integrated services including above and below the line advertising with in-house digital, strategy and design.

The company’s 30 staff are dedicated to servicing a group of high profile clients that spans retail, healthcare, travel, fashion, hardware, consumer electronics and entertainment. This includes leading brands such as Pioneer, Stanley, Global Corporate Challenge, Contiki, Origin Energy, Clive Peeters, and more.

Every year, the company assists Global Corporate Challenge (GCC), a world-first virtual health programme that encourages corporations to help their employees get active and healthy. The programme sees people from around the globe form teams and don pedometers for a period of 16 weeks and record their daily step count on the GCC website, which was designed and built by Flash.

Industry

Marketing and Advertisement

Primary hardware

  • Multiple Virtual Web and Database Servers hosted externally running Windows Server 2008

Primary software

  • HP LoadRunner software

Predicting system behaviour and application performance

“The stability and performance of the GCC website is critical to the long-term success of the programme,” explains Carla Clark, digital producer, Flash Group.

“While we undertook some basic testing in 2009, we did not have adequate visibility to obtain an accurate end-to-end picture of the website’s performance, particularly at peak loads. This was apparent when we experienced issues during the 2009 program and it was the impetus for us to seek a performance validation solution.

“Despite the broad experience of our team, we wanted to leverage specialised expertise in performance validation, so we invited JDS Australia to recommend an appropriate software solution. We settled on HP LoadRunner software, due to its functionality, reliability and versatility.”

Partnership provides expertise and speeds time to benefit

An HP Platinum Partner and winner of the coveted HP Software and Solutions Partner of the Year Award for the past four years, JDS is widely regarded as a leader in the BTO space. The company provides extensive and in-depth knowledge of HP’s suite of testing and monitoring solutions, offering support to clients in a variety of industries.

The account manager at JDS Australia believes this is quite an unusual project, as Flash is one of the first creative agencies he has come across that realised the importance of performance validation for a website it had developed. “Ensuring that mission-critical systems such as the GCC website are available and performing as intended is something that all organisations grapple with. However, we don’t often see creative agencies trying to predict system behaviour and application performance at this level – that’s usually the domain of IT teams or developers.

“For organisations (such as Flash) that don’t have in-house performance testing expertise, getting a partner on-board takes the hassle out of deployment. In this instance, JDS provided a roadmap to help Flash mitigate the risk of deploying the GCC website and prevent the costly performance problems it had previously incurred. We helped the team stress test the website to handle the large increase in participants and determine the peak loads and transactional volumes, which in turn enabled us to recommend how best to setup the IT infrastructure. The testing also identified bottlenecks, which the website developers rectified this year.”

Carla Clark believes that having an HP partner involved made all the difference to this project. She says, “Having JDS on board meant that we could focus on our core competencies, while allowing them to do what they do best—provide the services needed to ensure the GCC website would be available and performing as and when required. JDS has assisted Flash in getting the most out of HP LoadRunner in a short space of time.”

Mitigating risk and gaining confidence

The company’s vision in adopting HP LoadRunner was to ensure the GCC website would be scalable in line with the rising number of users. “We wanted to adopt a long-term approach to this project and create a robust website to keep pace with the programme’s planned growth,” explains Tim Bigarelli, senior developer at Flash. “This also entailed the migration to a new IT infrastructure to further enhance our ability to support the website’s evolution.”

Flash began preparations for the launch of this year’s website by having JDS test the previous application on the old infrastructure to establish performance benchmarks. The next round of tests were applied to the new code base using both the old and new infrastructure. “The results uncovered were extremely beneficial as it enabled us to redevelop the website for maximum performance and functionality. But more importantly, it provided us with complete visibility into the performance of the application from end-to-end, which enabled us to verify that the new application would sustain loads of 1,000 concurrent users over the first peak hour on the launch day with an average login time of 7-8 minutes per user and average response times for all pages under two seconds to avoid abandonment,” adds Bigarelli.

Following a review of three solutions, we settled on HP LoadRunner Software, due to its functionality, reliability and versatility.
JDS has assisted Flash in getting the most out of HP LoadRunner in a short space of time.
HP LoadRunner software has helped Flash mature its website development methodology.
We are delighted with the business outcomes of HP LoadRunner software. Thanks to the preparative measures we put in place, our systems thrived and delivered 99.99% uptime, with our webservers only reaching 20% system capacity, and page response times of under two seconds.

Better decisions, operational efficiencies and improved client satisfaction

As a result of deploying HP LoadRunner to validate the performance of the GCC website, Flash has realised considerable benefits. The organisation has facilitated better decision-making, particularly on the development side, experienced operational efficiencies and improved client satisfaction.

Clark says, “HP LoadRunner software takes the guesswork out of the GCC website’s development. It provides confidence that the application will work as intended and it gives us the data we need to support our decisions. In short, it helps us avoid application performance problems at the deployment stage.

“By giving us a true picture of end-to-end performance, diagnosing application and systems bottlenecks and enabling us to tune for better performance, we mitigated the risk of failure for the GCC website. And with access to facts, figures and baseline measurements, we were able to tune the application for success.”

Putting the website to the test

Following considerable testing, Flash launched the GCC website on May 13, 2010. As expected, traffic was extremely high, with an average of 130,000 visitors on the first two days, and a peak of 8,403 visitors in the first hour.

“The GCC website performed according to our expectations and we are delighted with the business outcomes of HP LoadRunner software,” says Clark.

“Thanks to the preparative measures we put in place, our systems thrived and delivered 99.99 percent uptime, with our web servers only reaching 20 percent system capacity and page response times of under two seconds. This enabled us to provide a high-quality user experience, which is enhancing the programme’s brand value.

“Overall, HP LoadRunner software helped us solve key issues this year and identify areas for performance improvements for next year. We have benefited from knowing that performance testing prevents potential failures - such as the ones we experienced last year. As a result, we have considerably reduced the opportunity cost of defects, while driving productivity and quality in our operational environment to deliver a robust GCC website this year, that performs as intended.”

Business Benefits

  • Mitigated the risks of poor performance with a consistent approach to load testing.
  • Adopted a consistent approach to load testing to make confident, informed decisions about the performance and scalability of the GCC website.
  • Gained a true picture of end-to-end performance, which enabled better decision-making and functionality changes.
  • Increased client satisfaction through a fast, high-performing website.
  • Resolved issues with the production architecture and configuration before users were impacted.
  • Gained understanding and confidence in the performance characteristics of the website prior to going live.

Looking ahead

HP will continue to play a key role as the performance validation backbone of the GCC website. By leveraging the functionality and flexibility of HP LoadRunner software, Flash will continue to derive value from predicting system behaviour and application performance. The company is also exploring options to extend its HP investment by utilising the HP LoadRunner scripts with HP Business Availability Center software to monitor the performance and availability of the GCC website from an end user perspective.

In the future, Clark is keen to have someone in the team take the lead on testing. She says: “This project has demonstrated to us just how important testing really is, so we are focused on ensuring it becomes part of our routine development. We are also keen to share the functionality of HP LoadRunner to other clients with similar-sized projects.

“On the whole, HP LoadRunner software has helped Flash mature its website development methodology. We deployed a higher quality GCC website, improved client satisfaction and raised our profile and credibility as an organisation that produces high-performing, user-friendly and scalable websites,” concludes Clark.

Our team on the case

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Why choose JDS?

At JDS, our purpose is to ensure your IT systems work wherever, however, and whenever they are needed. Our expert consultants will help you identify current or potential business issues, and then develop customised solutions to suit you.

JDS is different from other providers in the market. We offer 24/7 monitoring capabilities and support throughout the entire application lifecycle. We give your IT Operations team visibility into the health of your IT systems, enabling them to identify and resolve issues quickly.

We are passionate about what we do, working seamlessly with you to ensure you are getting the best possible performance from your environment. All products sold by JDS are backed by our local Tier One support desk, ensuring a stress-free solution for the entire product lifecycle.