All Jerry Turner wanted to do was subdivide his DMZ on the City of Boston’s network. But as soon as he did, the network suffered a sudden drop in performance.
There was a time when Turner, the City of Boston IT manager for 16 years, would have had to troubleshoot the problem for quite a while to pinpoint the cause. He didn't have to do that. Instead, he knew instantly that the city's "Web fellows" had "plugged in Citrix and done all kinds of other things." He knew this because the city uses Opticom.
Founded in 1997, Opticom offers software for service delivery optimization and business impact analysis. In particular, Opticom’s flagship product, the Service Chain Management (SCA)-based iView IT Service Delivery Optimization Software, lets companies monitor and improve all aspects of service management, including IT reliability, capacity, performance, and quality.
“Before changes may be made to an IT infrastructure, facts on how those changes will impact the business are required,” says an Opticom press release. “Once the facts are known, investments or reductions may be made with confidence, knowing that decisions are based on facts and business impact, not intuition. Opticom iView IT Service Delivery optimization software delivers the facts needed to make informed business decisions about IT infrastructure and the services that it delivers.”
The company has been named to Deloitte & Touches' Technology Fast 50 for three consecutive years. Its customers include Sprint, Lucent, MCI, Motorola, Audi, Compaq, Westinghouse, the U.S. Army, and Verizon Wireless.
Opticom landed the City of Boston as a customer last summer. "We needed a strategy to manage our service like a business in itself," Turner was quoted at the time. "Utilizing iView and the SCM methodology allowed the city to realize enormous savings while clearly seeing the business impact of service downtime."
"This ability to provide the entire scope of analysis is what sets iView apart," Opticom founder and CEO Ed Flannery was quoted in a company press release. "The fact that the City of Boston can utilize our SCM methodology to save taxpayers $180,000 a month is exactly the kind of results we expected when we first developed iView."
Turner expected Opticom to fill a pretty tall order. Boston’s IT department was looking for a way analyze its network’s load and identify potential congestion points, especially in advance of deploying new applications, Turner said. He also needed this to happen on Boston’s sprawling network, which includes schools, libraries, fire and rescue units, police departments, city hall, and various other facilities and remote sites. The entire network includes multiple media, including fiber and wireless, and services including ISDN, all serving about 5,000 scattered seats that themselves serve Boston.
Turner had a list of objectives, including:
- Analyze potential load and identify congestion points
- Optimize bandwidth management and planning
- Verify vendor and infrastructure availability
- Chart infrastructure asset accountability
- Verify service level management
Easy to use
Turner said he also wanted a product that would be easy to use and could give him what he was looking for quickly. “We needed one type of monitoring tool,” Turner said. He also wanted to closely monitor usage and downtime instantaneously. Prior to Opticom, finding a problem would be half the battle. After that, he might spend hours or even days troubleshooting the issue.
For instance, when Cisco announced earlier this year that some of its products were prone to DDOS attacks, Turner said he was able to use the city’s implementation of Aprisma’s SPECTRUM software to determine which devices on the city’s vast network would need to be patched and to quickly apply those patches. Opticom's iView works dynamically with the Spectrum suite to generate Web-based reports. In this way, Turner knew immediately where the affected systems were located on the network.
“What I want to do is look at my readings and see 100-percent usage and I want it as cheap as I can get it,” Turner said.
Turner admits 100-percent uptime is impossible, but said he does regularly get high 90s from Opticom.
Opticom was deployed using a 30-day phased approach based on planning key services, which were identified, along with costs to the city; staging to determine how iView should be deployed; modeling to identify services, users, and various related costs; systematically collecting data over the deployment period to determine infrastructure availability and accountability; and analyzing data collected for conversion into multiple metrics. “This provided the who, what, where, how much analysis on the quality of the services, the infrastructure, the supplier’s contributions, and the business impact on services’ downtime,” said an Opticom case study on the company’s relationship with Boston.
The same study also identified success in three “cost centers,” which justify the city’s decision to go with Opticom:
Asset management—Prior to last summer, Turner said he “couldn’t really tell” what downtime percentages were or would be, pinpoint trouble spots, or know instantly when a device failed. Now he can identify them right away, an ability that saves the city more than $190,000 per month.
Capacity management—The city and Opticom have been able to identify potential savings by finding the city’s various transmission areas, their utilization levels, and consolidation potential. This, along with the associated operating costs, has saved the city more than $170,000 per month.
Vendor management—Opticom has helped Boston benchmark contributions made by the many suppliers and matched each vendor’s contribution towards Turner’s uptime target of 99.999 percent. In the process, several suppliers were flagged and Boston was able to renegotiate some deals, particularly rebates, which has saved the city more than $10,000 per month.
“iView and SCM provided us with a strategic approach to our service delivery and quality measurement process,” Turner said.
Also see these related resources:
Line 56 article on Purdue University Calumet’s use of tools from Opticom
Boston Business Journal: Opticom lands $3 million investment
Network Computing compare IT network and service management