by Byron Connolly

Tool eases Mission Australia’s app performance woes

Oct 08, 2015
Technology Industry

Slow performance of a bespoke application was making life extremely tough for around 3500 case workers at community service organisation, Mission Australia.

These case workers – who operate at around 350 locations across Australia – work to reduce homelessness by helping people find jobs, get an education and develop life skills. They use the case management system to record and store client information and make bookings.

But up until late 2013, they would often see ‘spinning hourglasses’ when interacting with the company’s bespoke case management application, which was significantly hampering their ability to do their jobs effectively.

Unfortunately, Mission Australia, CIO, Richard Walsh and his team – which includes only one network analyst – had no visibility over why the case management application, and others, were performing so poorly.

Walsh wanted to not only improve application performance but also look across its wide area network – a Telstra-managed MPLS WAN – to identify which of its 20 core applications are chewing up too much bandwidth and can be consolidated.

“We had a solution to provide basic network monitoring but we didn’t have anything to provide visibility across the whole network portfolio, particularly the application layer,” Walsh told CIO.

“We only had basic utilisation reports that were not actually broken down into a packet or application level around what is going on.

“We needed to drill down to the desktop and look at the end user experience to identify the cause of a particular problem whether it was a bad application, the network itself or an issue at the local site,” said Walsh.

To fix the issue, Mission Australia implemented Riverbed’s SteelCentral application and network monitoring product. The solution, which runs out of the organisation’s data centre in Sydney – enables Walsh and his team to identify and fix the core network and application issues affecting users.

According to Walsh, the solution provides not only its network engineer – but level 1 and level 2 support staff at its service desk with visibility over what’s going on across the organisation’s network.

The also saves the IT team a significant amount of time troubleshooting issues, which takes pressure of the organisation’s sole network engineer.

“It allows them to find bottlenecks and work out what the problem could be … and engage the application vendor if there is an application issue,” Walsh said.

“For instance, the case management application was performing poorly and we were able to look across the network and say, ‘here’s what makes up the application, here’s how the application is behaving’ and provide that insight to the [application] vendor.”

Walsh said case workers’ perception of a ‘slow or fast’ application is often created by their experience at home where they have dedicated internet links.

“But when you’re at work using the network, you are sharing a resource. The [tool] allows us to do some benchmarking around usage and once we have those benchmarks, we can set expectations with users,” he said.

In one particular case, the IT team was able to increase performance of the case management application by up to 30 per cent for users after identify a few ‘rogue processes’ that were chewing up application bandwidth.

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