Quotable Value, the organisation that issues government valuations on real estate, would probably rank itself as an SME as it has about 250 PCs, says IT manager Bryce Johnson. Yet it has no formal tools for system management on its internal system.
“As yet, the problem is the cost,” he says. “Anything we’ve looked at has been fairly expensive.”
QV is currently looking at Microsoft Operations Manager, a product that allows the essential performance factors of all servers to be monitored form one central point.
“We don’t have a lot of servers” -- 11 in the branch offices, three general servers at head office, one web server “and two others”. The company is shortly moving to Citrix, which will increase the server workload, so has decided it needs more careful monitoring. “But [manual procedures have] worked well up to now,” he says.
The company has enlisted more immediate aid on its web server, which naturally has to be up continuously. “The business on the site is growing and more and more of it is taking place outside working hours,” Johnson says. So QV has hired two “Site Angels” from BMC. The Angel is a piece of software that simulates a customer, firing dummy transactions at the server and measuring response time and other parameters (including, of course, whether the service fails to respond at all). Any performance outside specification triggers a warning – out of hours by email to staff at Datacom, which maintains QA’s IT system.
“We have been looking for something that gives the customer’s view,” says Johnson. It is this, he suggests, that really matters – particularly on a website -- rather than some abstract measure of internal performance.
QV has done a lot of performance monitoring internally, by analysing records of transactions retrospectively, he says. “We will see whether the Microsoft product gives information which is easier to interpret, and perhaps something from which we can track trends in performance.”