Jostens’ inability to quickly pinpoint application performance issues required multiple IT teams to perform redundant and timely troubleshooting in an effort to keep business-critical systems in production and projects on schedule. According to Theresa Chasar, Senior Director of IT Infrastructure, Operations, and Services, at Jostens, “The biggest challenge I wanted to overcome was being able to pinpoint an issue and put the right people on the problem without wasting everyone else’s time.”
Each time a performance issue occurred, every technology that touched the application had to be evaluated to determine if it was causing problems. Jostens’ IT teams were running the standard monitoring tools provided by each technology vendor: Oracle database monitoring, network storage monitoring, network traffic monitoring, enterprise security information and event monitoring (SIEM) tools. “These tools were giving us disparate pieces of the puzzle. We would typically have to go into each of those systems and try to piece together the historical data in an attempt to determine the root cause,” recalls Chasar.
Application performance is critical for Jostens, as the company must adhere to strict production schedules to deliver its full complement of products at the same time frame for millions of students. During the yearbook production phase, students have staggered deadlines to submit sections for their books, which are printed in signatures throughout the year. “Students work on their yearbooks during scheduled class periods. If the site goes down or is slow, students may have moved onto their next class before the issue is resolved,” explains Chasar. “The school would call its Jostens rep and say, hey, these students won’t be able to work on the yearbook for another week, we need to extend the deadlines.”
Staying on schedule is the only way the company can successfully deliver millions of yearbooks, diplomas, and graduation announcements that are due simultaneously. “As you can imagine, our plants are running at full capacity as graduation deadlines approach. If we suddenly start three shifts and run production on weekends, wages increase to time-and-a-half and double-time. The additional cost can total millions of dollars if we don’t keep the site available and performing at a high level,” informs Chasar.