E.ON

Step Change in IT Performance at E.ON with AppDynamics

In the energy industry the consequences of failure are, at the very least, a massive inconvenience, expensive, and potentially dangerous. That’s why the culture of “always on” is deeply rooted into the IT Service Management team at E.ON UK, one of the United Kingdom’s largest energy solutions providers.
At E.ON, the IT team’s always on culture is built around their Integrated Customer Environment (ICE). It’s the company’s business logic layer based on Oracle and .NET WCF framework. ICE holds all of the customer records and acts as the unified front end to all the essential customer services, including business-critical applications, ranging from meter installations to cash collection and customer self-serve via online channels. In other words, ICE is at the core of communication with customers and results in direct revenue impact. Continuous availability is becoming ever more important.

“If our IT isn’t available, we’re not doing business,” says Richard Smith, Head of IT Service Management for E.ON. “We’re the engine room of E.ON UK, supporting over 4,000 colleagues who do everything from customer service and installing meters, to selling energy products, billing, and collecting cash. If ICE goes, we really can’t do anything for millions of customers.”

We had great engagement from day one. The trial was quick to get up and running. Immediately we were impressed with how AppDynamics creates its own baseline and how little we had to configure

A Need For Application Intelligence

E.ON is continually evolving, resulting in increased complexity and increased demands on IT. The E.ON IT team has a number of in-house developed monitoring tools, but didn’t have a solution that gave them the ability to immediately understand and act on customer-facing performance issues in real time.

Smith explains, “One of our ambitions is to spot and deal with IT incidents before our customers do. We’ve been pretty effective at that but we can only monitor what we can see. As with many modern companies, the IT support model is complex, involving third-party organisations. We monitor the performance of the application, but that only shows us the effect, not the cause. Furthermore, as we’ve added more and more to our monitoring, more overhead is placed on the application itself.”

The benefits of AppDynamics are potentially far reaching because we should be able to spend less time troubleshooting, enabling the team to spend more of their valuable time on helping our internal customers on the next new development targeted for production.

As Smith relays, the costs were just too high to continue with insufficient monitoring. “Every hour that our systems are not performing, we could be cancelling smart meter installations, losing sales, failing to collect cash, or simply disappointing our customers by being unable to provide the service they expect.”

The company began to look for alternative APM solutions. They first took note of AppDynamics’ position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for APM analysis.

“AppDynamics was in the top right of the Magic Quadrant, and reported to be an innovative solution. They solved problems we were trying to remedy,” says Smith. “So following a selection process, we tried them out.”

The relationship developed quickly.

“We had great engagement from day one. The trial was quick to get up and running. Immediately we were impressed with how AppDynamics creates its own baseline and how little we had to configure,” says Smith.

The team discovered that AppDynamics was the solution they were looking for to keep the performance of ICE at optimal levels and even prevent potential incidents before they happen.

“Before AppDynamics, we didn’t have visibility into the web services middle tier of ICE, which is not great, because it’s a critical component. If there was a performance issue with that middle tier, we’d have to raise a ticket, get on a call with a third party and have a technician investigate. Now, with AppDynamics, we can immediately see where the problem lies.”

AppDynamics has also increased the team’s ability to work together to solve issues.

“Being able to drill down very quickly and spot issues lets us go to the right team and produce evidence, like payload data, so that we’re straight into the fix activity. Cutting out the guesswork helps us to reduce the Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR) considerably. The benefits of AppDynamics are potentially far reaching because we should be able to spend less time troubleshooting, enabling the team to spend more of their valuable time on helping our internal customers on the next new development targeted for production.”

Building Better Customer Experiences

Spotting and fixing performance issues in production is critical to the success of the company. However, Smith and his team see AppDynamics as a crucial part of a larger mandate many other enterprise IT teams are also experiencing— creating customer experiences that drive the business. Putting this new enterprise IT paradigm into action, the EBS team at E.ON is taking a more agile DevOps approach in its efforts to offer new solutions to customers.

“The energy industry is continually evolving and customer needs and expectations are changing too. At E.ON we do a staggering amount of IT change— multiple releases into production almost every day— so maintaining a solid monitoring regime and getting to the root cause of performance issues quickly is essential in order to provide the platform where that level of change is possible.”

There was a new product that the development team had been struggling with for weeks, including performance issues that were actually preventing us from going live. We put AppDynamics on the case and solved the issues within 15 minutes. That’s just one example of what application intelligence can do for you.

The code-level visibility provided by AppDynamics is helping create velocity in areas where it was lacking before. The E.ON team has been able to gain a better understanding of how their code is performing—and quickly spot reasons it may be underperforming.

“There was a new product that the development team had been struggling with for weeks, including performance issues that were actually preventing us from going live,” recalls Smith. “We put AppDynamics on the case and solved the issues within 15 minutes. That’s just one example of what application intelligence can do for you.”

“We’re also using information provided by AppDynamics to build consolidated dashboards of business and IT performance, giving us a real-time view of our business and IT health, performance and impact on revenue,” says Smith. “With the data from AppDynamics, there’s a single source of truth for the business, operations and service delivery, which will help us make the right decisions in terms of improvements and IT investment.”

Speeding Up Innovation

Smith sees AppDynamics as a powerful tool to strengthen IT’s role in driving the business forward at E.ON by helping to speed up the innovation cycle.

“IT is a platform for business innovation, so we’re in a strong partnership with the business. It’s easier to transform the business when IT has the ability to fix problems faster and innovate at scale. Tools like AppDynamics will help us move faster and create more time for innovation throughout the company. Developing solutions that our customers need, both now and in the future, will help E.ON UK achieve its vision to become, ‘your partner of choice for energy solutions.’”

With the data from AppDynamics, there’s a single source of truth for the business, operations and service delivery, which will help us make the right decisions in terms of improvements and IT investment.