Open Solutions Canada Uses New Tools to Monitor Massive Transaction Flow
The British Columbia-based network and data operation staffers are beta users of INETCO Systems Ltd.'s Insight 4.5 business transaction monitoring software, using it to get a granular view of every transaction that moves through while watching for problems.
According to Mark Newman, manager of network services for Open Solutions Canada, it's being used to monitor eight distinct electronic funds channels, including online and telephone banking, ATMs, bill pay, payments processing, point-of-sale and two ATM networks.
"We've been running this environment for quite a few years now and have gotten a pretty good idea of what normal looks like. For instance, we know that something normally takes four to six seconds, and if it takes longer than that, we know we have a problem somewhere. We're now formalizing into the Insight system that feel for how it should be moving," Newman said.
Such information is crucial to an operation that is now working with service-level targets based on business transaction execution rather than such things as server availability or CPU usage levels, Open Solutions Canada and INETCO said.
The Insight software, running in-house inside the center's firewall, provides continuous, visual details of such things as transaction path and network and application layer activity and assembles it end-to-end internally and across third-party networks, according to INETCO in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Any variance from expected transition activity-whether it's transaction time going beyond service agreement requirements or indications of possible fraudulent activity-triggers alerts for immediate action and later analysis, "giving our customers a complete view across their environment of what is actually happening now and what's happened historically," said Marc Borbas, INETCO's vice president of marketing.
The Insight software also is designed to help processors handle data flow made more complicated by merger activity, evolving technologies and other systemic changes, the company said.
"The way that most of these IT systems like that of Open Solutions have evolved is that new code has been added, new modules and new products, and it's made it difficult to get a consistent, complete view of what is really happening in that environment," Borbas said.
He said the Insight software addresses that issue while also offering the ability to learn some things perhaps unexpected, lessons that help deliver increased efficiencies and better end-user experience.
"For instance, one of the key challenges in this business is understanding where your activity peaks are and aligning your scheduled maintenance outages to fit those. Well, for one ATM network we assumed the best time to do that would be late at night, but we found that 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. was actually busy, especially on weekends, maybe because that's when bars were opened," Borbas said, necessitating a different time to be chosen.
MTTR (mean time to repair) also has improved with the new software, Open Solutions said.
"Recently we had a piece of equipment in our data center fail on us and as a result it was denying all the transactions coming in on an ATM channel," Newman said. "In the past, we would have had to wait for the vendor to contact us and then go step-by-step through an entire process to determine what had happened.
"But in this case, an e-mail was generated on the very first transaction which failed, enabling us to pinpoint the actual device that failed at our site. We were able to boot it and restore service in four minutes. In the past, that would typically have been an hour and a half."
Borbas said INETCO has about 150 customers in 50 countries and depends on them to help refine and develop its products.
"We work very closely with customers like Open Solutions to plan our road map. In fact, Mark [Newman] was one of our key drivers in our version 4.5 with the ideas and requirements he had," Borbas said.
The other beta customers of Insight 4.5 include a Telecom New Zealand business unit and Fidelity National Information Services, INETCO said.
INETCO President/CEO Bijan Sanii said, "Business and IT users can capitalize on powerful business transaction intelligence to achieve greater service efficiency and lower costs.
"The value of this information grows exponentially as transaction processors and other financial service providers face increased operational complexity due to mergers and acquisition activity, consolidation, and upgrade efforts such as legacy modernization projects and virtualization," Sanii said.