Case Study: Investment Bank

When Traditional Monitoring is Not Enough

A large investment bank with international presence and expertise in capital markets, foreign currency, private banking, global trade and corporate finance implements Correlsense’s SharePath.

Business Challenge: High-visibility application hanging – affecting customers and company reputation

The online trading application was suffering from severe performance problems that caused it to hang for several minutes five or six times a day. The problem was affecting all users of the application and it was becoming a major issue with the bank’s customers, negatively affecting the bank’s reputation in the market they serve. The problem had reached visibility at the business executive level and IT was under pressure to solve it. A war room had been established with their top IT experts: network people focused on “packets” and “packets loss;” application people were looking at J2EE methods and JVM heap size; and system administrators were checking the CPUs. All lights were green, but the application was still hanging.

“So often in the war room everyone’s dashboard is green while the customer is in trouble.”
— Director of Online Trading Applications, Major Investment Bank

Solution: SharePath business transaction management from Correlsense

After two weeks of unsuccessful attempts to diagnose the problem using traditional systems and application monitoring tools, the bank decided to contact Correlsense.

Correlsense deployed SharePath’s self-configuring agents, which immediately started aggregating data at the transaction level across all the tiers in the data center. Without any prior knowledge of the application, SharePath auto-discovered all tiers touched by every transaction and automatically mapped their topology.

Initially, everything looked within acceptable ranges. SharePath continued to monitor every single transaction that was flowing through the system, accumulating transaction history and trends. After several hours, the problem occurred again: it caused the entire application to hang, with end-user response times exceeding SLAs.

“The monitoring data from Correlsense stopped the internal finger-pointing and showed us exactly where the real problem was.”
- VP IT Operations, Major Investment Bank

Results and Benefits: Pinpointed problem and rapidly resolved it

The SharePath dashboard monitored transaction latency across the entire topology. When the problem occurred, the dashboard immediately pointed to a bottleneck in the external database.

Zooming into a granular breakdown of the workload for that database, a specific type of SQL statement was identified that accounted for 90% of the transaction workload and was affecting the performance of the application. But identifying that SQL statement type was not enough to fix the actual problem. The statement could have been sent out as a result of any number of user actions or because of a defect in the application code that could have been causing tens of thousands of these statements to be sent out to the database for no real purpose.

Because SharePath traces every transaction from the end-user action all the way to the back end of the data center, the bank’s team was able to find out where these SQL statements were originating. Two transactions were to blame, and the transaction data in SharePath showed that these transactions were associated with two specific client IPs.

Zooming further into the parameters of the transaction the bank identified the account name of a specific user and they were able to immediately block the user. This eliminated the application hanging problem.

It turned out that the Bank had a client who was an independent stock broker. He had two servers and had written his own code to “screen scrape” the bank’s application in order to collect market data to improve his trading of stock options. He was doing it in short bursts when there was a good opportunity for him in the market.

“SharePath started collecting metrics in hours – we thought it would take a great deal more time and require heavy instrumentation or even application changes…”
–Director of Applications, Major Investment Bank

The bank fixed the application code in order to prevent this from happening again, and their problem was solved.

This is a classic example of a problem that traditional monitoring tools are not able to identify. SharePath, on the other hand, not only pin-points the problem right away, it also gives you the ability to see IT issues in the context of the business. This results in clear communication to all stakeholders and a significant reduction of time and effort to solve problems, ensuring predictable IT Reliability™.

“SharePath was brought in as a last resort to fix a critical problem, now it is at the heart of our IT management strategy.”
— VP IT Operations, Major Investment Bank

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