​ME Bank gets dynamic with app monitoring

Australia's ME Bank has implemented AppDynamics' application management and monitoring solution to ensure the online bank stays up 24/7.

ME Bank launched in Melbourne in 1994, setting out to do something completely different to other financial institutions at the time. Known then as Super Member Home Loans (SMHL), the lender originally focused on home loans before undergoing a name change in 1999 to Members Equity Bank.

ME Bank has operated differently to the likes of the big four banks in Australia, with all of its banking services conducted online, no bricks-and-mortar shopfronts, and none of its servicing performed face-to-face.

Kate Luxmoore, general manager for IT Infrastructure & Operations at ME Bank, told ZDNet this means that the online experience of the customer is the bank's number one priority.

Luxmoore's role with ME Bank sees her effectively run the bank from an IT perspective; for them, constant uptime is a major priority.

"Availability and performance of our online environment is very important to our organisation," she said. "It's something that we certainly measure to the highest level in terms of it being a critical success factor."

As an online financial services organisation, ME Bank needs to ensure that its online environment is always functioning smoothly.

Luxmoore explained that the old way of doing things would have been to scour through various components of infrastructure and applications, and also to explore the organisation's logs and perform health checks on each component. She said this would require someone with strong knowledge of the environment to notice what is missing or the resulting symptoms of an error or fault.

Initially sceptical of the need for external monitoring, Luxmoore sat down with Californian-based AppDynamics to discuss what its application management and monitoring solution could do for the bank.

"These tools have been around for a long time and essentially they often throw out a lot of alerts and information and a lot of that just becomes impossible to digest," she said.

Impressed with what AppDynamics said it could offer, Luxmoore gave the application performance monitoring firm a challenge to do with ME Bank's development process.

"We said, 'We're really struggling to find what's causing the problem here, this is your opportunity AppDynamics, prove yourself'," she said.

"The reality was that in that particular scenario what had taken us quite some time to try get to the bottom of -- and we still hadn't successfully done it -- very, very quickly their tool pointed to it, without the need for a lot of tuning.

"The difference with AppDynamics is that it actually looks at a transaction as it makes its way through to your environment."

Impressed, Luxmoore said that is where these tools often come unstuck -- they usually also require a large amount of administration and tuning before useful information can be extracted.

"Then we saw the opportunity for using it elsewhere," she added.

ME Bank then rolled it out onto key applications in its production environment, which Luxmoore said gave the bank the opportunity to more quickly diagnose a problem when it arose.

"The other thing it's giving us the opportunity to do is do a lot of preventative maintenance and performance tuning because we're able to see areas that start to behave a little more differently because of the way that AppDynamics learns and understands normal," Luxmoore explained.

"It knows and it gets quite sophisticated ... [it] learns all of the thresholds so as soon as it sees something that doesn't look normal, it tells you."

Luxmoore said this is very important as it is the early warning signs in an infrastructure and an application environment that prevent something from breaking.

"You can react to it very quickly and you often can fix the problem before it happens and before you see any symptoms that you'd usually feel. That's the key, that's what you're aiming for," she added.

While ME Bank is still in the relatively early stages of its monitoring journey, Luxmoore said it is continuing to expand the service to cover more applications and gather more data along with it.