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ATO turns to AppDynamics for application monitoring

Following a string of outages plaguing the Australian Taxation Office's online service delivery, it has signed with Cisco's AppDynamics to monitor its application delivery.

Over the past 10 months, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has suffered a handful of IT-related service interruptions, from "one-of-a-kind" SAN outages to mainframe reboots.

In a bid to prevent yet another IT-related outage, the ATO has turned to AppDynamics to monitor its critical applications, including MyTax, a web-based platform that allows the digital lodgement of tax returns.

In a statement from AppDynamics, the Cisco-owned company explained that the ATO has recently invested in digitally transforming its entire business. As part of this push to innovate, it has modernised its application architecture and shifted it to the cloud.

AppDynamics said it was employed to ensure customers have an uninterrupted service by pinpointing issues before they impact consumers.

Prior to AppDynamics, the ATO used a legacy Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solution that was complex to deploy and configure, which resulted in the department being unable to keep pace with internal changes.

Speaking at the Technology in Government conference in Canberra in August, John Dardo, chief digital officer for the ATO, said the taxation office is focused on the challenge of making a system that is "more connected and bulletproof than ever before".

"Four years ago, when we had an outage event or a slight decline in service, nobody noticed," Dardo said, adding that the ATO is moving towards a fully digitised environment, but only where practical.

The ATO launched its myTax platform in 2014, and now boasts 3 million people lodging a return through myTax. It also has 1 million people using its mobile app, a number that is growing exponentially, Dardo noted.

"Four years ago, or even two years ago, if you were talking to the ATO through software, the software could batch and run; now the software is talking all the way through," he explained. "So as we look to the future, we have to think about how we architect the ATO's systems."

With the AppDynamics solution in place, the ATO is now locating performance bottlenecks within an hour, rather than up to a month later.

Through "great customer experiences", the ATO is expecting an increased volume of online applications via MyTax.

Addressing the National Press Club in July, Australian Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan said the ATO expects its IT will operate smoothly in the future, having done everything it can to ensure this.

"We are ready to respond quickly if there are any hiccups or unexpected outages," Jordan said previously.

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