Voice of Experience: Tools of the RoadBy Baselinemag | Posted 2004-07-01 Print
In charge of information technology for PHH Arval, a vehicle-management company that provides financing and maintenance services to businesses that need to maintain fleets of cars and trucks. The Cendant subsidiary manages 1.2 million vehicles worldwide.
Manager's Profile: In charge of information technology for PHH Arval, a vehicle-management company that provides financing and maintenance services to businesses that need to maintain fleets of cars and trucks. The Cendant subsidiary manages 1.2 million vehicles worldwide.
His Project: The company's Web portal, PHH InterActive, is the primary way 15,000 customers and employees access information about vehicle orders and other account details. To monitor the eight servers that power the site, which receives 4 million hits per month, Talbot and his team picked Mercury Interactive's Application Management Foundation (formerly called Topaz). PHH uses other products to manage individual systems and devices, including Hewlett-Packard's OpenView, which feed information into the Mercury system.
Nix the Agents: In 2001, PHH was using BMC Patrol software to monitor its Sybase data warehouse. Talbot's team considered using Patrol or a similar tool to measure performance and availability for the entire site but decided that managing agentssoftware that sits on servers to gather performance datawould be a huge headache. "In theory it's a great idea, but in practice it's a lot of work," Talbot says.
Tapping Apps: Using Mercury's tools, Talbot says, his staff was able to identify a database transaction that was exceeding response times by more than 25% its normal range. The problem was fixed, and "the help desk phone didn't ring once," he claims.
No Holy Grail: Still, Talbot remains highly skeptical of vendors claiming to provide soup-to-nuts management products that associate application-performance problems with specific events at the infrastructure level: "I haven't seen it work in a real environment, successfully and repeatably."
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