Alere Medical Gains Holistic View of its Infrastructure with SevOne.
- Needed a way to forward-project capacity management capabilities that reported into its existing management interface
- New acquisitions required bringing together disparate entities
- Existing network monitoring system lacked fundamental capabilities necessary for implementing the system
- Now has holistic view of entire network
- Saves time and increased productivity
- Was able to develop a fully meshed network using SevOne
- Mitigating administration time has substantially increased productivity
Alere Medical (formerly Matria Healthcare) is a leading provider of integrated comprehensive health enhancement programs to health plans, employers and government agencies. Alere Medical is dedicated to developing better educated, motivated and self-enabled healthcare consumers and supporting clinicians in managing the care of their patients. Alere Medical delivers programs that address wellness, healthy living, productivity improvement and navigation of the healthcare system, and provides case management of acute and catastrophic conditions. Headquartered in Marietta, Alere Medical operates through nearly 50 offices around the United States.
Over the years, a series of acquisitions and growth strategies required the company to bring disparate entities together – not only from a business perspective, but also a technical one.
In 2007, Jay Scott, a Performance Engineer at Alere, realized that the existing network monitoring solution he had been chartered to implement lacked the fundamental capabilities he deemed necessary to meet the company’s long-term needs. He recognized the need for a high-availability solution that was also disaster-recovery sensitive and had the speed and versatility the company required at an affordable price point. During this time, a representative from SevOne contacted Scott and asked him to consider the company’s next-generation enterprise management tools and services.
“SevOne hit at the right time,” Scott says. “For the most part they could meet my needs out-of-the-box and where there were gaps they worked diligently to develop custom features as part of a proof of concept – something that was not an option with our previously installed system vendor.”
Alere Medical engaged the SevOne Performance Appliance Solution (SevOne PASTM) that includes built-in performance history audit, enabling network operators to quickly pinpoint emerging problems anywhere on the network and prevent future problems from occurring.
According to Scott, one of the things he needed to complete his vision for a useful network management solution was forward-projecting capacity management capabilities that reported into his existing management interface. These capabilities would allow Scott and his team to leverage historical data to identify where an enterprise’s problems existed at that moment in time and to plan lead times well in advance of an actual event.
“While it wasn’t something that was available in their original product, SevOne worked with us and delivered on that feature set, just as they said they would,” Scott says.
The addition of the SevOne PAS has resulted in Scott being able to technically as well as geographically integrate alerting thresholds in association with or complementing IP SLA Cisco, as well as NetFlow.
“Our meshed configuration allows me to set up alerting throughout the network,” Scott says. “For example, I can do a page pull from our Phoenix office to a server here in Marietta and I can do the same for Chicago, Fort Lauderdale and so on – monitor those responses, set up alert thresholds around them and I can tell immediately if I have a geographic problem, as opposed to a location-specific problem.”
SevOne also met the requirements for a high availability solution with robust disaster recovery capabilities.
“One of the things we were able to do with SevOne is produce a fully meshed network,” explains Scott. “We have two SevOne appliances here in Marietta and two in our data center in Chicago. Each unit provides redundant back-up capability to the other so that in the event of a failure of hardware or circuitry within a location, we don’t lose visibility.”
The SevOne interface provides the ability to log onto any one of the four appliances at any point in time: any of the data you need, if it’s collected by at least one of the other units it’s reportable from the device you’re accessing,” Scott adds. “For my incumbent vendor, doing it that way was an administrative headache.”
Mitigating administration time with the SevOne solution has not only saved time, but also has substantially increased overall productivity at Alere.
“SevOne’s auto discovery feature goes out and discovers devices for me,” Scott says. “Once a night my system goes out and picks up anything new from interfaces to processes and automatically adds them for me to the devices I monitor. My current vendor at the time would have taken days for the base install, much less completing the discovery process. That’s a lot of administration that’s removed for me.”
As an outcome of the auto discovery process, group administration and group management has become more accurate and streamlined. When he is adding new rules and policies, for example, Scott is assured that he is applying them to the appropriate group for reporting purposes – something that was nearly impossible with the former system.
An even more critical benchmark for Scott – in order to keep on top and ahead of network problems – was the speed of reporting. Neither latency nor downtime was an outcome Scott could afford with any regularity.
“One of the things I do is run a 30-page capacity report every month that looks at our WAN circuits, our LAN connectivity to servers, our CPU usage on devices, drive space, and related metrics and I then run that report against all of my LAN or WAN interfaces, some 8,000 elements in all,” Scott says. “With my incumbent vendor I could schedule that report to begin running at midnight and I’d have to hope it would be completed by the time I arrived the next morning. With SevOne I can schedule that report and might have to wait 10-15 minutes to achieve that same result.”
The SevOne solution also saves time by giving Scott and his IT team a holistic view of the entire network so they can generate server condition reports quickly whenever they need them. “All we have to do is type in the device we want to check and get a quick report on CPU utilization, memory drives, traffic patterns, and more,” Scott says. “Instead of having to run multiple reports to find what you need, with SevOne it’s a couple of clicks and you’re where you need to be.”
A final outcome Scott is weighing, particularly as compliance-based initiatives become more a fact of life for both the business and his IT staff, is how to best leverage SevOne information to support Alere’s observance of industry-specific regulations such as HIPAA.
“While we’re not collecting configuration information, SevOne does maintain our historical data,” Scott says. “For example, the way the appliance is sized – say it’s for 10,000 elements – it will maintain one year ‘as-polled’ data for that number of elements in a standard poll cycle. For competing monitoring and application performance monitoring solutions even a 60-day rolled-up ‘as-polled’ data, over time, goes away. With SevOne I can go back six months or longer and still have the data I need to validate our level of compliance.”
While Scott wrestled with having to buy both the network performance management software as well as the hardware to run it on through his incumbent vendor, the choice to move forward with SevOne proved a far easier decision. No hardware was required and there was no cost to “add-in” modules. The one-stop shopping was not the only reason Scott chose SevOne to augment his in-house network management solution.
When he evaluated the SevOne estimate, he discovered that Alere Medical was getting the ability to monitor 20,000 elements versus 4,000 elements from its incumbent vendor for half as much investment.
“I estimate my savings alone projected over the next three years to be significant and we won’t need to spend additional capital on hardware to run the software on,” Scott says. “Additionally, SevOne saves me more than 50 percent of the administration costs that my incumbent vendor would have required and I assure you that percentage is decidedly conservative.”
Taking everything into consideration – the rich features, the price points and the solution’s versatility – what impressed Scott the most actually occurred at the point of SevOne’s inception.
“We built the proof of concept and they ported all the data over to the production system,” Scott says. “At that point we launched out of proof of concept straight into production. We haven’t second-guessed ourselves since.”