VS School MIS

VS uses AppDynamics to maintain an accelerated release cycle while ensuring critical application response time for its users

VS is a cloud-based school administration platform providing management, administration, teachers, and parents with the ability to monitor and improve the progress of their students with a real-time view of school activity. Today, VS proudly serves hundreds of secondary schools across Ireland, UK, and France generating approximately 15,000 user requests per minute at peak times. VS maintains this exploding growth by housing a world-class engineering team that leverages AppDynamics to help maintain the stability, availability, and usability of its software platform.

Challenges: Delivering optimal response times while serving 15,000 requests per minute within a broadly distributed architecture

The V.P. of Engineering, Noel King, played a critical role in the success of designing a new micro-service architecture. Facing a user base of almost 15,000 requests per minute, King had the responsibility of decoupling the existing design into strategic service layers while maintaining mission-critical performance. Using log files for insight into the health and behavior of the application was not a sustainable approach when requests were becoming more distributed among multiple tiers. “Relying on logs to provide performance visibility into distributed calls among our multi-tier application is not sustainable; we need a complete APM platform,” says King.

Relying on logs to provide performance visibility into distributed calls among our multi-tier application is not sustainable; we need a complete APM platform.

King was not only tasked with ensuring the health of the distributed application but also maintaining an aggressive release schedule to meet the business demands. According to King, the “release process is extremely aggressive; in the last six months VS has had over 700 deployments while delivering mission-critical performance to customers.”

Solution: AppDynamics provides correlation between the various micro-services with key metrics behind application health

Noel King was no stranger to AppDynamics. King understood the engineering need and married it with AppDynamics as an alternative to the existing workflow of log analysis and remediation. Quickly, the team at VS leveraged the power of AppDynamics by finding the root cause of the performance bottlenecks. Specifically, AppDynamics identified calls being made to a remote Web service API that suffered latency issues. “With AppDynamics, we quickly gained visibility into where our bottlenecks were, specifically within our exit calls to third party web services and were able to remediate immediately,” says King.
Understanding the customer experience begins from the client side and with the AppDynamics end-to-end monitoring solution, VS gained an understanding of the customer using the AppDynamics EUM monitoring capabilities. From JavaScript errors to the analytics provided on the various browser and device types, the VS engineering team is provided with the necessary insight to optimize the user experience across a broad spectrum of customers. Additionally, the mobile monitoring capabilities allow for an understanding of the health of the new mobile application as the company prepares for a successful launch in 2015.

With AppDynamics, we quickly gained visibility into where our bottlenecks were, specifically within our exit calls to third party web services and were able to remediate immediately.

Benefits: Using AppDynamics has helped simultaneously scale the application, continuously integrate new features and deliver an optimized customer experience

Within the newly distributed architecture at VS, the front-end application was interfaced with a middle service layer that brokered communication with various database and micro-service backends. The performance of the database layer was critical in the overall application health. By using AppDynamics, the engineering team maintains a 23ms response time with the middle service layer, including communication with the database. “AppDynamics has given us insight that has enabled us to go in and rewrite multiple queries throughout the application to improve performance,” says King, “AppDynamics had an immediate impact on our database layer. With the insight we gained, we optimized our middle service layer to maintain an average 23ms response time even with the database calls“.
Ultimately, VS is now able to remediate reported problems in a fraction of the time it took previously. On completion of new features or resolution of an issue, VS can test, automatically verify, and deliver it to production in a timescale unseen in the market. It’s AppDynamics intelligence monitoring that gives VS the confidence to understand their production environment and customer interactions.

“It is great having a tool that provides deep insights into the health and behavior of the end user that, inevitably, we may not be seeing internally here in the office.”