What is most valuable?
The primary ability is to monitor systems in real-time. Many alternative monitoring systems use a polling system – so a short incident that occurs for a couple of seconds or less and resolves (such as a line outage or data gap). The small outage could have major consequences. Having to wait up to 60 seconds for the message can also mean valuable time is lost in resolving the issue.
The ITRS development team constantly works to make plug-ins and samplers, ensuring that when I implement new technologies – servers/black box solutions etc. minimal development has be done on my side. We can simply download the specifically written plug-in to the gateway and deploy the probe to the new technology. This ‘off the shelf’ approach beats onsite resources developing solutions that already exist.
Dashboards & auto execution – a few years ago the staff supporting our systems would have multiple windows open into various server applications. Not any longer. We have created powerful dashboards which on one screen shows every part of the system we need to see, going into the end applications is a rare occurrence and only for senior third line team members. Auto execution provides the ability to fix issues from the monitoring system. This allows us to have Geneos monitoring and incident management as our ‘core skillset’ – knowing how to support hundreds of applications via only needing to know one. Training is now far easier and staff can support more apps.
We support various versions of view the software at various institutions. The latest version is compatible with Linux/Solaris and SPARC. The probes (which deploy on end user systems) work on most OS including Windows. Consoles to the gateway to view status are Windows based and also various web based tools use modern versions of browsers such as IE, Chrome and Firefox.
How has it helped my organization?
We can only respond to issues once we confirm that the issue exists. An analogy we sometimes use is likening our role to that of Formula One pit mechanics – we work hard to ensure the engine is tuned and running, but we can’t stop unexpected issues ‘on the track’. Once an issue happens, we need to be working to resolve it instantly. Any solution that does not monitor in real-time is a non-solution for both CJC and our end clients. As we can see the moment an issue occurs reaction times are quicker. Events are logged and so trend analytics can be used for performance benchmarks; so month to month or even day to day we can review the system heath with a view to improving our performance and refine our monitoring.
What needs improvement?
CJC require an enhanced level of visual reporting for our clients, specifically due to the large datasets we need to analyse and the importance CJC place on capacity and upgrade management. CJC created a new visualisation tool utilising the existing ITRS Database. This was done with the full support and assistance of ITRS for our specific requirements. I have found that ITRS are aware of their client’s requirements and work towards platform improvements to benefit individual clients and the community as a whole.
For how long have I used the solution?
I first used the solution in 2009 however CJC have been working with this product since 1999. CJC has to provide 99.999% availability on mission critical infrastructures and it would be incredibly difficult to do this without Geneos. Our clients have a similar requirement of ITRS and so require consultants trained in the product to support their systems. We have assisted in the support of real-time infrastructures at 15 tier one to tier two banks along with brokers and vendors.
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
From a software Installation point of view no, however all deployments come with their own challenges, especially when migrating away from an existing system as not one infrastructure is alike. CJC has historically upgraded a client from a legacy monitoring system on over 600 servers to ITRS, replicating thousands of bespoke rules and alerts. Migration has to be done with ITRS standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the legacy system. ITRS during this time provide specialists and technical support to replicate rule sets.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Fortunately the system is very stable - we have never seen an application level incident with the monitoring system itself. The gateway has a redundancy mode which we enable so we have a live/live environment.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
None, once the server gateways are setup it's simple to deploy the probes. We adhere to ITRS guidelines and monitor the servers themselves to ensure that we are not adding unnecessary load. The gateways run a fairly low footprint on entry level server specs.
How are customer service and technical support?
The ITRS accounts team are passionate about the product and are client focused. Technical Support
Generally we work direct with the developers as CJC staff are at an advanced knowledge level with the application. The development team quickly understand our requirements and work with us to achieve the goals we require.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We have historically supported many different monitoring systems, however one of the major reasons for switching was a previous system was not being developed further due to an end of live announcement. ITRS Geneos is commonplace on client sites and our teams had prior exposure or expertise. New staff can be trained on Geneos in a short amount of time and a solid user of Geneos can pull much more out of the system than previous alternatives.
How was the initial setup?
The product is straight forward to install and configure along with the deployment of probes to servers. From out of the box installation to a point of monitoring systems can be done in less than 24 hours. Installing new servers/applications into an established system can be done in minutes. ITRS Geneos is very well known in the financial services community as being the best platform to monitor real time data infrastructures and the application does what it says on the tin. Industry peers reflect this sentiment. ITRS are very good at adding plug-ins to various new software and technologies/black box solutions and also provide order flow monitoring.
However, it being both straightforward AND complex is the key. The system is easy to setup from a software perspective, but you need a system architect to design the system initially. Geneos is ultimately designed for mission critical servers supporting real time infrastructures, high frequency trading, low latency and order flow (and much more). Even with a fairly small footprint – setup not done properly could cause huge exposure. None of this can be reflected on the software, as deployment is always straightforward, however the day to day operation is where the platform form is judged.
What about the implementation team?
Generally we work through vendors however in most circumstances they provide CJC the freedom to setup the system how we require as ultimately we are doing the live support. We work with vendors/clients who have both a hands off and hands on approach to monitoring. However in both cases the understanding of why they would utilise ITRS Geneos shows their understanding of their own infrastructure needs.
What was our ROI?
It’s the primary tool to detect and start end to end incident management and system analytics so it’s a key part of our company offerings.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Our clients pay for Geneos directly from ITRS.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We found the best alternatives to be open source systems, however the development costs to get these to the standard of ITRS meant that open source was more expensive. Many clients have also done internal investigations and have come to the same conclusion. I would prefer not to name these systems simply due to the confidence that they do a fine job, however, I believe they are not best placed in our fast moving industry.
What other advice do I have?
My logic is ask for a proposal – they cost nothing! If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s up to those looking for top level monitoring to go to the various providers and weigh them up both in terms of functionality in cost. I’m confident ITRS would be competitive for commoditised IT and non-mission critical environments.