Key Information Systems
VAR and Professional IT Services
California, United States
Key Information Systems is an IT consulting firm and value-added reseller that provides a variety of services to enterprise customers, including on-premise computing, storage and network solutions, cloud-enabled data centers and other Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions.
The company designs IT solutions to meet the most demanding computing environments, including its own. For Key Information Systems, ensuring an optimal network and application performance level isn’t just a good idea, it’s an example of the service and infrastructure the company can develop for its clients. However, when network or application performance problems emerge internally or at customer sites, the IT team had to rely on basic red-light/green-light status updates. Getting detailed transactional data and conducting analysis to solve problems was a painful, time-intensive process for engineers and required troubleshooting with complex tools as they searched to isolate the root cause. The team needed a powerful solution that could not only monitor network and application performance metrics in real time, but also enable the team to dive into packet-level information for deeper analysis from a centralized platform.
Key Information Systems deployed TruView™ from NETSCOUT to gain greater visibility into both internal and customer network and application infrastructures. Using TruView, the company can manage network and application performance across its six locations and ensure delivery of widely used applications, such as Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint®, to staff.
The company also uses TruView to monitor and ensure performance of data center applications and connectivity to hundreds of customers for its co-location facilities. If a problem arises, the IT team can instantly dive into detailed information and analysis (via the centralized UI) of transactional data to isolate the problem and fix it before it affects the customer. Using TruView, the IT team now takes a proactive approach to problem solving instead of simply reacting to customer complaints. This saves the team at Key Information Systems precious troubleshooting time and allows them to improve how well they meet the performance expectations of customers.
“Visibility and detailed transactional information are incredibly important to effectively deliver high network and application performance for both our internal corporate network and for our customer networks. But these two things don’t always come hand in hand. That’s what makes TruView unique. It gives us a centralized platform with visibility into key network and application performance metrics, and it allows us, in just a couple clicks, to dive into packet-level details to further troubleshoot in real time. That’s how we can fix problems before they impact our end users.” – Clayton Weise, director of cloud services at Key Information Systems
Key Information Systems is an IT consulting firm and value-added reseller that provides a variety of services, including on-premise computing, storage and network solutions, cloud-enabled data centers and other Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions. The company designs IT solutions to meet the most demanding computing environments and is known for employing elite, certified technology experts and architects.
Key Information Systems maintains 70 employees across six locations throughout California and Arizona. Its clients hail from a variety of industries and range in size from the Fortune 500 to mid-market enterprises. Key Information Systems specializes in delivering IBM solutions and offers an IBM Business Partner Innovation Center (BPIC), which allows Key Information Systems customers to conduct in-depth evaluations of new technologies.Challenges
As one of the largest IBM value-added resellers on the West Coast, Key Information Systems offers a variety of professional IT and network architectural services. The company has two primary network and application performance challenges. The first challenge is to meet the needs of its own staff by delivering a reliable network and responsive applications across multiple locations.
“Like any business, we have several important applications, such as Exchange, SharePoint, Salesforce, SAP and VoIP, along with other technologies that our internal teams rely on to do their jobs. If server transactions are slow or if there’s an application response issue, it can have a big impact on staff in the office or those trying to access information remotely,” said Clayton Weise, director of cloud services at Key Information Systems. “We needed a solution that went beyond just telling us at a high level if an application or server was up or down. Seeing a graph spiking doesn’t help you understand a problem; it just raises more questions. We needed a centralized platform that was a trusted source of network intelligence to help us answer those questions.”
Equally important, and responsible for driving revenue, is the company’s second challenge: providing the same network and application visibility for customers that use the company’s data center for application hosting. These customers expect consistent, high-performance connectivity and responsive applications as part of Key Information Systems’ data center services.
In the past, the company relied on basic troubleshooting solutions that gave a red-light/green-light status. When problems did arise, the team would begin a tedious analysis using outmoded, complex tools that took tremendous time and resources. This approach often meant the IT team couldn’t solve the problem before it affected the customer.
“Most of our customers don’t have the ability to dive into packet-level details and look at what’s occurring on the network or application side, especially if that information is coming from a data center. As data center applications become more critical, common and complex at the same time, our customers are increasingly relying on us to ensure network and application performance. To do this effectively, we needed a more versatile solution with better capabilities and centralized management, or else we could potentially lose substantial amounts of time trying to isolate issues,” said Weise.
Key Information Systems evaluated several other solutions before selecting TruView from NETSCOUT. TruView uses key data sets, including packet storage, application response time, transactional decode, Flow and SNMP, to highlight performance metrics for the company and their data center customers. TruView delivers this information through a centralized console and provides IT with a clear picture of network and application performance.
When issues arise, TruView helps quickly isolate the root cause by allowing the team to easily drill down into context-sensitive packet-level detail. The user navigates through the UI to understand problem domain isolation, which applications are running slow, what servers and sites are impacted, etc. At the same time, TruView builds a filter for relevant packet data. This allows the user to quickly access specific packet data at any point in the process from any UI screen.
“Visibility and detailed transactional information are incredibly important to effectively deliver high network and application performance for both our internal corporate network and for our customer networks. But these two things don’t always come hand in hand. That’s what makes TruView unique. It gives us a centralized platform with visibility into key network and application performance metrics, and it allows us, in just a couple clicks, to dive into packet-level details to further troubleshoot in real time. That’s how we can fix problems before they impact our end users,” said Weise.
Today, TruView is responsible for ensuring network and application performance for Key Information Systems as well as the data center customers they serve. When problems begin to emerge, the six IT team members using TruView can immediately isolate the problem and identify the root cause.
“Most tools tend to go a mile wide and an inch deep. TruView is the opposite. If focuses just on network and application performance, giving you a complete overview of your assets. But then, with just a click, TruView allows you to go all the way into the packet weeds and do heavy analysis,” said Weise. “Honestly, when we were evaluating solutions for analyzing network transactions in real time, there was really only once choice, and that was TruView.”
When Key Information Systems began using TruView to monitor on behalf of their customers, its value became readily apparent. For example, when several clients started experiencing massive packet loss and data drops when connecting to applications in the data center, TruView instantly noticed the problem. When the IT team drilled down to find the root cause, they discovered the problem was coming from the same destination port at each client location. By cross-referencing the technology parameters, the team realized they all had a Juniper firewall that was running an old software version that couldn’t combat a Layer 7 application (denial of service) attack.
“I’m not sure how we ever would have found out that all of these clients had the same firewall update issue. TruView illuminated the problem, and we drilled down to the root cause in 23 minutes. If we didn’t have TruView, this issue would have taken us a substantial amount of time to analyze and would have required onsite visits and coordination. It could have had a major impact on the organization, putting our internal IT team and our customers’ IT teams into overdrive, working day and night to troubleshoot,” said Weise.
Key Information Systems also partners with service providers that host VoIP applications for customers in the company’s data center. When problems emerge, the vendor and customer point fingers at each other to assign blame. TruView has put an end to all that by isolating the root cause within minutes..
“We recently had a customer using VoIP from a partner that was hosted in the data center. After 30 minutes on a call, the VoIP service would drop. Of course, the customer’s analysis said the issue resided with the provider, and the provider’s analysis said it was a customer firewall issue. A blame game ensued,” said Weise. “Then we jumped in with TruView and captured an entire transaction in transit and inspected it. We found that the client’s firewall was seeing the conversion timing out. The provider was acknowledging the timing-out issue and killing the call. We were able to share that information with the provider and the customer so they could work together to isolate and fix the problem.”
In the future, Key Information Systems plans to use TruView to monitor and manage on-premise customer networks and applications. This will allow the company to expand and drive additional value-added services that alleviate resource issues that many of their enterprise customers face.
“We’ve really been impressed with TruView. The workflow is fantastic. It’s intuitive and easy to use, and returns data results and loads at lightning speeds. We’ll be expanding our team to include a few more people well versed on the platform, and we can’t wait to offer additional services to our customers,” said Weise.