Hallmark

Hallmark Development Team stays on tight schedule with AppDynamics

Hallmark. It's one of a handful of iconic brands whose name mentioned on any continent, in most any language, instantly conjures up a product image. In Hallmark's case, of course, that product image is greeting cards. Hallmark produces over 10,000 new and redesigned greeting cards every year. Hallmark's cards are produced in more than 30 languages, and sold in 100 countries worldwide. Hallmark is also the parent corporation of a number of very successful subsidiaries, including Crayola and Crown Media Holdings.

Challenge: Massive project, brutally tight deadlines

Hallmark UK's technical team was on a tight deadline. A very large business transformation project was underway, and as so often happens, the technical team was tasked with accomplishing much in little time. Chris Tranter, Technical Lead at Hallmark UK, knew there wasn't much room for error. "We had to move fast to deliver an enterprise solution," Tranter explained. "I was nervous about hitting stalling points that are common with development, because there was very little contingency time built into the project plan."

Anybody who has worked in software development knows that tight deadlines tend to be the norm. And Tranter knew that it was all too likely that problems would crop up that would make meeting those deadlines problematical. He was particularly concerned about slowdowns revolving around debugging and troubleshooting issues. "I knew from experience that troubleshooting issues could take time, sometimes days," Tranter said. "I needed something to help in this area, so I started to search for system monitoring tools on the Internet."

Solution: One exceptionally capable tool replaces many

Tranter's team had a collection of tools on hand that they were using for tasks such as monitoring resource usage and memory analysis. But he knew that these tools were not scalable enough to be suitable for a project of this size and complexity. "I needed something that could oversee a .NET/SQL-based development environment, with the ability to monitor many different components."

Tranter was hoping to replace his current underperforming tool set with a more capable tool set. But in the end, he expected that he would still be saddled with the problems of juggling a collection of different tools. He's glad to have been proven wrong on that prognostication.

I was happy to see I'd found a solution which met all my requirements. AppDynamics' APM is capable of replacing the entire toolkit that I otherwise would have assembled from a number of vendors.

"I came upon some promotional literature about AppDynamics" Tranter explained.

"After reading the literature and doing some additional investigating, I was happy to see I'd found a solution which met all my requirements. AppDynamics' APM is capable of replacing the entire toolkit that I otherwise would have assembled from a number of vendors."

Benefits: Keeping to schedule with quick and efficient troubleshooting

Once the AppDynamics' APM was installed and running, troubleshooting and debugging became a very different game for the Hallmark team. "AppDynamics is constantly monitoring and alerting," said Tranter, "and we don't have to do much to capture the information needed for tracing errors."

And the ability to look back in time and see what was happening when an error occurred helps to eliminate the lengthy processes often involved in trying to replicate problems. "I've basically been able to receive a priority one issue, drill into the data and immediately tell a developer where to look. It's taken a large amount of stress and time delay out of all of our debugging," Tranter noted.

Looking back on his experience to date with AppDynamics, Tranter confirms that the APM has already helped his team stay on schedule on multiple occasions. "I know that there have been significant issues which would have caused long stalls in the project," Tranter explained. "Since we have very tight timelines, the impact of these stalls could have severely impacted the project plan. But those issues came and went because we were able to easily pinpoint the causes of the problems in seconds. AppDynamics really is that good."
"When you care enough to send the very best." That's Hallmark's long-standing slogan. It's a tough slogan to live up to, but Hallmark has been doing so brilliantly for more than a century. And Hallmark UK's technical team is doing its part to assure the continuation of that tradition of excellence - with a little help from AppDynamics.

AppDynamics really is that good.