How Oceanwide gains visibility into their .NET private cloud environment

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jonathan Victor, COO at Oceanwide, a leading insurance software company. Jonathan and I discussed the challenges they faced prior to implementing AppDynamics APM, such as gaining visibility into their cloud operations and diagnosing the root cause of performance issues. We also discussed how they ultimately chose AppDynamics over competitors and the benefits they’ve seen since using AppDynamics.

Hannah Current: Please tell us a little about Oceanwide and your role there.

Jonathan Victor: Since 1996, Oceanwide has been delivering SaaS core processing solutions to property and casualty insurers of all sizes across the globe. Our configurable insurance software solutions enable insurers to react to market changes, configure new products and manage their products with increased speed and lower costs for any line of business, virtually eliminating professional service fees. Designed from the ground up to be web enabled and fully configurable without custom programming, our solutions automate policy, billing, claims, underwriting, document management, agent/consumer portals and more for insurers, MGAs, and brokers.

I’m responsible for managing the Oceanwide private cloud and the insurance applications which we (develop &) run on top of it. I have a dedicated Cloud Operations team which ensures that Oceanwide’s insurance platform is performing optimally and available 24/7/365 to meet the needs of our global user base.

HC: What challenges did you suffer before using APM? And how did you troubleshoot before using an APM tool?

JV: Prior to implementing an APM solution in our cloud operations center, we were limited by only having access to application logs and infrastructure related monitoring and alerting. Identifying the source of a performance or application issue was a challenge as the application stack was very much a black box and the data we were getting from the infrastructure and database tiers was disconnected. We worked with many disparate data sources including logs, and system performance monitors. The task of correlating this data to identify a root cause was a complex, manual effort.

HC: What was your APM selection process/criteria?

JV: We required an APM solution that fully supported the .NET / Windows / SQL technology stack and provided rich user and transaction details from the browser through to our underlying cloud infrastructure. We also required a solution that was scalable and had an intuitive UI that our operations and development teams could use with minimal training. We also required a solution that could run on the Oceanwide private cloud given our industry and data privacy constraints.

HC: Why AppDynamics over the other solutions out there?

JV: We reviewed several APM vendors and felt the AppDynamics’ value proposition best suited our needs. The AppDynamic solution has proven to be a reliable, powerful troubleshooting and real-time monitoring tool that is at the core of our cloud operations centre. AppDynamics’ excellent customer support worked closely with our engineers as we implemented their solution across our private cloud. This was a critical component which was validated during our pilot as we needed to be confident that the AppDynamics agents would not have an adverse impact on our insurance applications.


HC: How has AppDynamics helped to solve some critical problems?

JV: AppDynamics has been central in our analysis of performance improvements and/or application issues on our insurance platform.

When investigating application performance, the ability to drill down through application snapshots and view the distribution of time across the transaction path allows for a rapid identification of the components involved. Being able to then directly correlate this information with metrics such as CPU and memory utilization, is incredibly valuable as it would require hours of manual work to accomplish the same task.

AppDynamics had enabled our cloud operations team to quickly identify stored procedure calls as well as to view many other granular details for a given business transaction. The live monitoring provides us with immediate notifications when an application performance issue has occurred and gives our operations team the ability to be to proactive and avert issues before they impact end users.

We are looking forward to migrating to the newest version of AppDynamics, which includes full database monitoring and a single pane of glass view across the application, database and infrastructure tiers.

Interested to see how AppDynamics APM can help you gain visibility into your environment? Check out a FREE trial now!


Applications were failing long before Cloud came along

I’m fed up of reading about Cloud outages, largely because all applications are created and managed by the most dangerous species on the planet – the human being. Failure is inevitable in regards to everything the human being creates or touches, and for this reason alone I see no news in seeing the word “outage” in IT articles with or without Cloud mentioned.

What gets me the most is that applications, infra-structure and data centers were slowing down and blowing up long before “Clouds” became fashionable. They just didn’t make the news every other week when applications resided in “data-centers”–ah, the good old days. Just ask anyone who works in operations or help desk/app support whether they’ve worked a 38 hour week; I guess the vast majority will either laugh or slap you. If everything worked according to plan, IT would be a really dull place to work, help desk would be replaced with OK desk, and we’d have nothing to talk about in the office or pub.

Self Tuning Applications in the Cloud: It’s about time!

In my previous blog I’ve written about the hard work needed to successfully migrate applications to the cloud.   But why go through all that work to get to the cloud? It’s to take advantage of the dynamic nature of the cloud with the ability (and agility) to quickly scale applications. Your application’s load probably changes all day, all week, and all year. Now your application can utilize more or less resources based on the changes in load. Just ask the cloud for as much computing resources that you need at any given time, and unlike at data centers, the resources are available at the push of a button.

But that only works during the marketing video. Back in the real world, no one can find that magic button to push. Instead scaling in the cloud involves pushing many buttons, running many scripts, configuring various software, and then fixing whatever didn’t quite work. Oh, and of course even that is the easy part, compared to actually knowing when to scale, how much to scale and even what parts of your application to scale. And this repeats all day, every day, at least until everyone gets discouraged.