From time to time, I find it useful to speak with decision makers to learn why they chose a specific product. This time, I had the opportunity to speak with Karolyn Schalk, who in the past was the CIO of an "Internet of Things" supplier.
Schalk spoke with me to answer questions about what her organization was doing, what problems it faced, what technology it considered and why Nastel's AutoPilot was selected.
Please introduce yourself and your organization
My name is Karolyn Schalk of Garden of the Intellect LLC, a supplier of on-call executive leadership for startups, small and mid-size companies. My company offers strategic planning, process review/design, and oversight of managed services; software, hardware, and services evaluation and selection; mentoring of newly promoted IT staff; contract review and negotiation; and department reorganization. We also offer merger and acquisition support, solution design reviews and other services.
In the recent past, I was the CIO of Apex Supply Chain Technologies, before forming my own boutique consulting firm. Apex is the global leader in point of service dispensing and an early player in the internet of things.
We're going to review how I made the IT decision to select Nastel's AutoPilot application performance monitoring product.
What were you doing that required this type of technology?
We needed a product to support both a proprietary cloud and a proprietary J2EE SaaS application. Changes were being made frequently to the application, often three times a year. We needed a tool that could easily keep up with an evolving complicated infrastructure.
The end goal was to achieve an extremely high level of virtualization. I was seeking a proactive monitoring solution that would allow us to get ahead of problems before they happened and allow us to address them. After all, uptime is a key issue for a SaaS application.
What products did you consider before making a selection?
We were using SolarWinds Orion APM. It wasn't satisfactory. SolarWinds suggested that if we would purchase more modules the product would do a better job. We also looked at DynaTrace, Lucierna and Nastel AutoPilot.
DynaTrace could do just about anything we wanted, but it was rather costly. We had come concerns that Lucierna couldn't help us do the low level monitoring we wanted to do.
Why did you select this product?
Nastel not only had the ability to work with WebSphere 8.5, which was a component of our application and cloud, was cost effective and would grow with us as we needed.
My vision was that over the long term a version of the product would help us monitor our customer service as well and provide a dashboard that organization could use to monitor its success supporting clients.
What tangible benefit have you received through the use of this product?
The operations staff would get notification of potential problems within the individual JVMs that were part of the cluster. They could address potential problems or reboot individual JVMs to address potential issues before customers saw a problem.
AutoPilot gave us good visibility and allowed us to have very high levels of uptime.
What advice would you offer others who are facing similar circumstances?
Don't assume you are going to be able to select a product, turn it on and then walk away. Make sure you have time to set up, tune and adjust the tool to keep up with changes in the environment. It is necessary to have a feedback loop set up to look at what is happening, what the product has learned from the environment and keep things working properly. That takes up front planning and creation of appropriate processes.
One of the problems with APMs is the high level of expectation set by supplier's marketing messages. This type of product isn't "set and forget" product.
Nastel has been responsive, provided good insight into how to tune the product and they've also been responsive when we made suggestions on how to change and improve the product. Their support is very personalized and responsive.
A bit about Nastel
Nastel is a global provider of middleware-centric application performance monitoring solutions for mission-critical applications. Nastel's solutions enable businesses to ensure the required levels of performance, high availability and compliance necessary to remain competitive at what they claim is a fraction of the cost of other offerings in the market today.
The company has deep domain expertise in integrated enterprise application environments and infrastructures, and core competency in the J2EE and Messaging space, it is able to provide end-to-end monitoring and automation solutions that optimize transaction and application performance and availability.
The company's AutoPilot M6 Suite delivers complete business situational awareness, leveraging a powerful embedded virtual Complex Event Processing (CEP) engine to dramatically reduce application degradation and outages and provide what the company calls a "unique proactive, predictive problem prevention." AutoPilot M6 enables governance over transactions, application performance, middleware and business activity. The 360° real time view that AutoPilot M6 offers empowers businesses to be "faster, prioritized and predictive" in their resolution of performance and availability issues.
The company is privately held and is headquartered in New York, with offices in the U.S., Europe and Mexico, and a network of partners throughout Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia.
What is AutoPilot?
Here's how Nastel describes AutoPilot:
AutoPilot delivers real-time application monitoring, analytics and alerting along with deep-dive tracking of messages across Web Services, Java, .NET, MQ and CICS on both distributed and mainframe platforms. It is built on an advanced application analytics engine using Complex Event Processing that delivers early-warnings about problems in order to ensure the availability and performance of your important applications.
AutoPilot provides a layered architecture with an advanced application analytical engine using Complex Event Processing (CEP) at its core. The Complex Event Processing engine was built specifically for application performance monitoring and comes with prebuilt rules, policies and templates.
AutoPilot Architecture with an Advanced Application Analytics engine at its core:
The CEP engine is built on an active data grid that provides hot failover and scale. Additional CEP servers can deployed into production and are immediately utilized via a pub-sub relationship. This provides almost unlimited scalability.
AutoPilot can automatically discover and track messages or transactions across Web Services, Java, .NET, middleware and CICS. This creates a real-time visualization and monitor of business transactions. Unique to this discover is the capability to utilize message payload when “stitching” transactions and the ability to handle asynchronous transactions.