Case Study: US Utility

Improving User Experience in Complex, Customized, Distributed Applications

Business Challenge
This multi-billion dollar utility is one of the largest electric power providers in the United States and serves millions of customers using a large-scale, sophisticated application.

The company’s work order system tracks workload and operational information that helps run dozens of remote power plants. To support these systems, the company uses IBM Maximo, a large, distributed asset management application.  If the system experiences an outage causing a plant to shut down operations, the organization could lose several million dollars. The company therefore needed to track its work orders and compare the performance of its plants to keep them at high availability.

Furthermore, the company planned to scale up its systems to improve asset management. As a result, the performance of the Maximo application would become even more important to the success of the business. A senior IT stakeholder felt that developer-centric APM tools which dive deep into the application code would not provide the visibility and drill down information needed for this environment. A tool that has a broader perspective and is more suitable for IT Operations was required. This is when he came to SharePath for help.

Highly Customized Application, Complex Architecture
The application architecture was complex, including 4 servers with 12 instances of Weblogic Application Server, running on an old Java version which was not supported by most APM vendors. The company’s Maximo application was more customized than most, with over 300 custom columns. It was therefore crucial for the company to obtain a better understanding of its performance.

Solution: SharePath by Correlsense
Before the customer installed SharePath, its IT team lacked visibility into what contributed to response times.  They often assumed that the wide area network was the source of their performance issues.  After a seamless installation of SharePath, however, they immediately saw that there was more to their performance problems than met the eye.

Using SharePath’s powerful analytics, the IT team broke down the real user response times by tier to learn the distribution of time spent across the data center tiers (Application servers, Database), network and browser rendering elements. A problem originally believed to lie within the Wide Area Network was actually found to be a database issue. Once this problem was identified, the company added a replicated database and moved ad hoc queries to another server, reducing database load and improving performance.

SharePath’s topology view, which displays Maximo’s various components and interactions, gave the team further insight into how components interact as well as additional sources of performance issues. The data and analytics from SharePath helped them clarify years of confusion about transaction response times and user experience and achieve consistent performance among various power plant sites.

Bringing IT and Business Together

“When there is a perception that an application is slow, we can have an informed discussion with real data. This makes our organization smarter and more proactive.”
- Director of IT Operations, Major Utility Company

After using SharePath in production for several months, the senior architect reported that the relationship between IT stakeholders and the business improved dramatically. Instead of calling the network administrator or DBA and guessing the root cause of a problem every time the application slows down, all relevant stakeholders could review and discuss the same data sets provided by SharePath.  This has given IT and business a better idea of what is truly happening in their IT environment while improving efficiency and fostering collaboration.


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