Siemens Taps CCSS to Monitor Outsourced i OS Environment
January 6, 2009 Alex Woodie
Siemens Healthcare is using system tools from CCSS to monitor and manage a network of System i servers running critical applications for hospitals in a near “lights out” manner, the English i OS utility developer announced late last year.
Siemens Healthcare is perhaps best known among System i shops for its i OS-based MedSeries4 suite of enterprise applications that is used by hundreds of hospitals across the country. But in addition to developing a healthcare information system (HIS), the medical giant also runs the MedSeries4 software in its own datacenters for clients that prefer an outsourced environment, or “managed services,” to running the stuff in-house.
More than 1,000 customers use Siemens managed services, according to CCSS, including 34 hospitals in the US and one in Bermuda. Supporting this environment is a group of 29 operators and analysts that keep things running smoothly across several back-end systems, which are backed up with high availability software.
Siemens’ setup is quite sophisticated, but it is also complicated by the disparity among the service level agreements (SLAs) that the company holds with its clients, according to CCSS. Manually monitoring and managing this environment to the limits set by the SLAs would be time-consuming and prone to error, says Michael d’Onofrio, a systems analyst with Siemens Healthcare.
But thanks to the automation provided by QSystem Monitor (QSM) and QMessage Monitor (QMM), Siemens IT staff can relegate basic System i tasks to the CCSS software–such as monitoring logs or tracking DASD usage–and step in with human intervention only when required.
QSM and QMM integrates directly with Siemen’s Remedy help desk software, and were adapted to work with two (largely manual) monitoring systems that Siemens had previously put in place.
Siemens focuses on several critical System i server metrics presented by the CCSS software, including CPU, DASD, memory utilization, interactive response time, and use of batch workloads. The company makes particular use of QSM’s reporting functionality to track its adherence to SLAs. Additionally, the product’s disk history summary features play a major role in determining DASD utilization for chargeback purposes, CCSS says.
Another interesting aspect of Siemens’ setup is the way it uses the Windows-based QSM to watch multiple customer environments. Multiple QSM sessions are run on the same PC, thereby eliminating the requirement to end one session before starting another to monitor separate environments, or to install multiple PCs to monitor multiple environments simultaneously.
All told, the CCSS products enable Siemens to respond more quickly and effectively when application issues arise (as they inevitably do), and to do so without adding more IT staff, d’Onofrio says.
“If we had to manually manage these challenges, system performance and availability would suffer and, more importantly, customer satisfaction would be compromised,” d’Onofrio says. “The QSystems Management tools have allowed us to automate system monitoring tasks, providing us with the ability to be proactive in addressing issues with the myriad of applications we monitor and the SLAs we must meet.”
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