Insight Enterprises is a leading technology provider of hardware, software, and service solutions to business and government clients around the world. With over 5,000 employees worldwide and sales of more than $4 billion annually, Insight ranked 471 in 2011’s Fortune 500.
Insight’s eBusiness applications allow its employees and customers to submit orders to the company’s ERP system. Because Insight is largely a B2B company, the load on these applications is not too heavy. However, due to the high dollar amount of the transactions that do flow through there, slow response times and outages can be quite expensive. Dave Young, Manager of eBusiness QA and Support, was hired to make sure these applications perform as well as possible to meet the demands of Insight’s customers.
But he discovered that performance issues were hard to find in a highly distributed application. The current system for troubleshooting performance problems usually did not manage to find root cause before the problem mysteriously disappeared. “My team is first in line when a customer calls to report an issue,” Young said. “Our typical response is to send out a thousand emails asking everyone to check their individual area – when they respond, they say everything’s fine. After an hour you find out there wasn’t a problem, and yet the customers were experiencing 2-3x slower response times than usual. The majority of the time we weren’t resolving issues because they would typically resolve themselves before anyone could determine what the root cause was.”
Before Young came on board, a colleague at Insight purchased AppDynamics to help resolve some of these issues. The company evaluated several Application Performance Management (APM) solutions but found that AppDynamics provided the best tools at the most competitive price. Dave Young began using AppDynamics once he started at Insight and found it a big timesaver for his team.
“Using a tool such as AppDynamics is key to helping you monitor and visualize any performance issues or bottlenecks you see within your systems, especially when you’re dealing with a system as geographically dispersed as ours,” Young said. “Prior to using AppDynamics, it could take us an hour or more to pinpoint the system causing the issue. Now it only takes us a few seconds to identify the root cause.”
Last week Young’s team was notified that one of the Phoenix-based applications that had been performing badly. “We were able to go look at a number of transactions in AppDynamics and see that the issue was a timeout from a remote function call into our ERP system. We were able to determine not only where the problem was, but what remote function call we were using and what parameters we were passing into it.”
AppDynamics has also been valuable in monitoring the frequent changes in Insight’s environment. “We generally make six to eight feature set changes deployed twice a month. We’re trying to reduce the amount of change, but when you’re dealing with very large customers like we do, it’s hard to say no,” Young said. “AppDynamics has helped us manage the effects of these rapid deployment cycles.”
AppDynamics allows Young and his team to rapidly troubleshoot performance problems that may not have been resolved before. “It’s just nice to have a tool that you can instantly look at and get immediate feedback on the health of your overall system from one end to the other. That’s an invaluable resource to people in my situation – the ability to drill down and get to the crux of what’s happening is something you can’t put a price tag on.”