Case Study: A Real-Time View - Page 2

Jul 15, 2004

Allen Bernard

The Ticker

While dashboard tools are nothing new, Concord's BSC offers Tilman two advantages: an end-user perspective of network performance, and a stock-exchange-like "ticker" that continuously tells him what is happening by streaming red (for bad), yellow (for needs attention) and green (for good) indicators across the bottom of his PC screen.

If Houston is down, he'd see a red dot next to that location. If San Diego is slow, it's yellow, and so on. By clicking on a location, he expand it to see what is going on and why, how long its been that way, and if the problem is being addressed.

Like most tools, the metrics that make up the reporting are customizable, and Tilman, who is currently the only user of the dashboard at BAH, is still in the process of figuring out some of the enhancements he'd like to see. For example, instead of seeing how long something is down, he'd like to see how long it's been running green as well.

In fact, he is so enamored with the ticker he is thinking of putting a larger one in BAH's headquarters lobby in McLean, Va.

"Does somebody need to know (email) is up in Cairo? Probably not," said Tilman. "Does somebody here need to know IT is on top of things? Yeah, I think so."

Another advantage the BSC provides is cost. It is a whole lot cheaper, even at a $100,000 starting price, for Tilman to let Concord take over database consolidation efforts and provide him with the tool than for his team to do it in-house.

Currently, Tilman uses the BSC in (almost) three ways: 1) operationally -- seeing what's up, what's not; 2) tactically -- seeing how the new Moscow office going to into the infrastructure as a whole; and 3) strategically. This last one is still in the works since Tilman's only had the product for a few months, is still trying to figure out how best to utilize it, and needs to get more trends data into the system. When that happens, he'll be able to look at things with a long-term, strategic eye.

Until then, though, he is quite happy to use what he has and to finally have someone outside of his IT department providing him with a long-sought-after solution.

"We've been trying for a long time to get the tools so that we can have a real view, so that we actually knew what was up and we could say, 'Yes, Milan is on line and they can do their stuff' as opposed to saying, 'Well, I know the router works and I know the server works ... What I think we have now is the potential to do something smart," he said.

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