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Making Application Performance Better for Users and Customers at CyrusOne
by Christine Cignoli on

CyrusOne logo AppNeta monitoring

  • IT ROLE: Steve Aichelmann, senior director of IT infrastructure
  • NEEDS: Improving internal end-user experience, especially for VoIP
  • RESULTS: Proactive issue resolution, view of performance at 31 global locations

As a leading data center provider to just under 1,000 customers globally—including 175 of the Fortune 1000—CyrusOne is known for its excellent customer service, enduring customer relationships and high customer satisfaction levels. It manages data centers across the United States, Europe and Asia.

Ensuring that CyrusOne’s internal users enjoy the same level of satisfaction with their application performance as its external users was a chief priority for Steve Aichelmann, senior director of IT infrastructure. When he joined CyrusOne a few years ago, a small IT team of three was in charge of managing the expectations of 500 users, plus contractors and visitors accessing public WiFi. With limited visibility into growing use of cloud-based applications like Office 365 and Salesforce.com, Aichelmann had his work cut out for him to meet that user satisfaction goal.

The IT team couldn’t pinpoint problems down to the application level—they could only see what the carriers told them. When a user called with a problem, it wasn’t easy to identify the root cause, Aichelmann says, especially when tests and metrics showed that the network appeared to be performing fine. Aichelmann’s team had to log into multiple tools at multiple sites, pull the data together manually, then analyze that data to troubleshoot and find the root cause.

These visibility problems were pushed front and center when users started to complain about poor call quality when the company switched Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers in 2014. With metrics showing that network performance appeared fine, Aichelmann knew his team needed another tool to drill down to the application level, identify problems and provide quick resolutions.

How CyrusOne Chose AppNeta

After looking at other software, the team chose AppNeta Performance Manager for deployment for its 31 global locations. With AppNeta, CyrusOne now has a real-time view of cloud-based application performance exactly where each user is located, taking into account variables like wide-area network (WAN) links, content delivery networks and load balancers. Instead of tracking and defining performance based on server stats like central processing units (CPUs) and memory usage, AppNeta gives a snapshot of user satisfaction, providing the ability to drill into application-specific data to remedy issues.

CyrusOne can combine usage data from multiple monitors to identify trends across different locations. The IT infrastructure team can also now compare multiple sites at the same time with the same type of test, saving time in identifying the root of the problem and then deciding how to fix it. They use the customizable application performance index scores, milestones and HTTP throughput data, plus network and application performance data collectively to get a full picture of app performance.

How CyrusOne Has Improved Performance With AppNeta

Aichelmann and his team applied AppNeta to sort through the problems with their VoIP system. By simulating test calls across the network, they could more reliably pinpoint root causes, because they were testing the applications at the same endpoints users were.

In another situation, CyrusOne Office 365 users were experiencing performance problems, while others were not. Aichelmann used AppNeta to research the software as a service (SaaS) provider connections to determine which endpoints were sending data. He found that different servers hosted the Office365 applications, with the source of the problem affecting the dissatisfied users in only one of those instances. The IT team contacted the provider with the specific information collected from AppNeta to ask for a reboot and move to the other server. “We could not only see it, but give them a snapshot of the slower server,” Aichelmann says.

“We can see what’s going on with more than one application, and the speed at which we can react is dramatically improved,” Aichelmann added. “We have the tools available and can pinpoint where the problem is, rather than having a broad paintbrush approach.”

Measuring Success With AppNeta On Board

With the right combination of team and technology, Aichelmann has increased user satisfaction, refocused his team on more strategic priorities, and used AppNeta’s monitoring data to help IT become an innovation partner to the business. They prioritized AppNeta use based on applications that are most problematic for users.

Having clear, consumable data on what’s causing application performance problems now positions Aichelmann’s team to mine data for trends and efficiency opportunities. His goal is to find problems before they ever affect users, using AppNeta for proactive application monitoring.

For instance, AppNeta can help identify applications for which users have become accustomed to slow response times, and Aichelmann’s team then looks for ways to improve performance. They’ve also used AppNeta to pinpoint an application slowdown that happens only in the evenings, so users haven’t noticed it—yet. Aichelmann’s team can now find the root cause and get ahead of a potential issue before it appears during business hours.

“It’s that kind of analytics that previously we didn’t have available to us,” Aichelmann says. He’s also working on ways to show users and executives what they need to know about the overall health of the network, using automated data in real time to inform users through the company’s business intelligence tool.

“We’re really just scratching the surface with AppNeta,” he says. “It’s so powerful.”

Filed Under: cloud computing, performance monitoring

Tags: case study, SaaS applications, WiFi monitoring

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