"You can only be sure that the service is running by clicking through it."
The Südtiroler Gemeindenverband needed a new way to check their intranet was continuously responsive. Würth Phoenix helped them configure Alyvix to verify responsiveness and display the results over time in a way that anyone in the organization could easily track.
Classic monitoring can show you whether or not single IT components like a server, a hard disk or a CPU are functioning in isolation. But it doesn't verify that your critical applications as a whole are actually running. Südtiroler Gemeindenverband (SGV) needed a way to monitor that the integration of components were delivering services, not just functioning individually.
Würth Phoenix helped SGV define typical transaction sequences that were run automatically by Alyvix. The results are then displayed graphically on a dedicated website which is accessible to all stakeholders in their organization. This includes IT employees and nursing personnel who can inform themselves about application availability and performance at any moment in real time.
Whether an application is truly working or not can only be verified by actually using it. SGV, the association of municipalities of South Tyrol that operates a data center with 40 IT employees for all South Tyrolean municipalities and district communities, established a continuous and automated application monitoring approach.
To provide optimal working conditions, SGV needed to ensure that all of its members could reliably access all applications under their responsibility at any time of the day or the night, seven days a week. Especially critical are those applications relating to retirement homes, where important information about residents is held.
It is crucial that their nursing personnel get vital information such as who must take which medicine, how much, and when. They also must know if a medicine has already been administered that day, along with residents’ medical histories. Applications like these clearly play a key role and must be available 24×7.
Despite these business-critical characteristics, system failures continued to occur. Unfortunately, these downtimes often went unnoticed by IT employees until they were reported by the staff in the retirement homes themselves. Thus it became necessary to constantly inform them about application status, greatly reducing their productivity.
However, the idea of a 24×7 on-call service was excluded from the beginning. As Stefan Kofler, system administrator at SGV, explains: “Our wishful thinking consisted of creating a procedure that would start the application, log on, and enter data. This was the only way to quickly and reliably ensure that all the interactions among databases, the application server, and its processes were working properly. Through our ordinary monitoring checks it was only possible to confirm that the preconditions were there for smooth operation, but you can only be sure that a given service is running by actually clicking through it.”
At the South Tyrol Free Software Conference (SFScon), SGV saw Alyvix for the first time and decided to implement this open source solution. Because of human resource constraints, Würth Phoenix was engaged to conduct both the implementation and staff training. After a day and a half, the system was up and running, and SGV's IT employees were able to independently build the necessary test cases.
The result is a continuous simulation of typical interaction sequences, and the subsequent output of the check results in graphical form on a dedicated website. Now staff is informed about current application at all times, without any human intervention.
Stefan Kofler, head System Administrator at the association of municipalities, summarizes the benefits:
“Alyvix is a very good complement to classic monitoring. Despite having a monitoring system, prior to the implementation of Alyvix we didn't know if everything was really running. The reasons are obvious: A firewall or a virus scanner on the application server could block a service, or the interplay between application server and database could be problematic even though individually all components were running fine. The classic monitoring approach does not take this aspect into consideration. We never knew for certain if everything was really working together. Today things look quite different: Thanks to continuous Alyvix tests, we are constantly kept up to date about the availability and performance of all our applications.” Stefan Kofler, System Administrator, SGV
The association of municipalities, SGV, is responsible for consulting, assisting and promoting all South Tyrolean municipalities and district communities. In this context, the association executes various activities including the creation and operation of common data processing and IT systems. Similarly, the development and maintenance of hardware and software are part of its essential tasks.