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How McKesson Found the Perfect Rx for Slow Citrix Apps with ExtraHop

Over the past decade, healthcare has grown to be the largest industry in the US, accounting for roughly 20 percent of GDP and 13 percent of the U.S. workforce. If there's ever been an industry where information technology can improve experiences and reduce costs, it's this one. However, healthcare IT has proven to be a gnarly business. HIPAA and FDA regulations place a heavy burden on the shoulders of IT teams tasked with managing healthcare applications and protecting data. At the same time, practitioners on the front lines of patient care need fast, reliable access to critical information, such as patient histories and adverse drug interactions.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

McKesson offers application hosting to hospitals, including hosting for its Paragon EMR system delivered over Citrix XenApp. McKesson offers application hosting to hospitals, including hosting for its Paragon EMR system delivered over Citrix XenApp.

This week at HIMSS 2014, ExtraHop shared how McKesson Managed Services is helping hospitals deliver better patient outcomes with the help of expertly run IT. McKesson Managed Services hosts electronic health records (EHR) systems and other mission-critical applications for healthcare providers across the United States, enabling hospitals to focus on caring for patients while leaving their most daunting IT challenges to the experts.

As the business began to rapidly expand, however, McKesson's application hosting group found that its traditional method of troubleshooting issues was no longer tenable. "We could not afford to gather experts in every discipline to diagnose and fix problems," says Scott Checkoway, Director of Application Hosting at McKesson. "To meet our commitments to customers and scale our operations, it was clear that we needed a way to triage and troubleshoot issues more efficiently."

One of the biggest sources of frustration was the difficulty identifying the source of slow Citrix XenApp application launches. A third-party consulting firm was brought in for a four-month engagement, but limited visibility across McKesson's environment prevented them from getting to the root of the problem. Seeking a more efficient and effective way to troubleshoot issues, McKesson turned to ExtraHop.

ExtraHop: The Rx for Slow Citrix Application Launch Times

McKesson used ExtraHop to analyze the wire data flowing through their environment—all L2-L7 communications between systems, including full bi-directional transaction payloads. This cross-tier visibility revealed the root cause of the slow Citrix performance. Doug McMartin, Director of Application Hosting Development at McKesson, explains, "With ExtraHop, our team was able to rapidly identify a series of failed DNS record lookups that were adding significant latency to Citrix launch and load times, with each failed DNS record lookup taking roughly five seconds to resolve. By identifying and removing bad DNS records, we saw average application launch times drop from 40 seconds to 12 seconds—nearly 75 percent faster."

90% Reduction in MTTR and Doing More with Less

Read the full case study. Download the case study PDF to see how McKesson improved Citrix performance and reduced IT costs with ExtraHop.

Since first deploying ExtraHop in 2012, the McKesson team has used the solution to gain critical visibility across their IT environment, leading to significant cost savings and better results for hosting customers. The Application Hosting team is able to identify the source of problems before contacting domain-specific experts, resulting in a 90 percent reduction in mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR). In addition to streamlining troubleshooting, the McKesson team is leveraging wire data from ExtraHop to optimize the performance, availability, and security of their hosting environment, enabling them to:

  • Easily track and report on KPIs and SLAs for each customer
  • Monitor all communications on the wire to detect potential data leakage and malware
  • Identify previously hidden inefficiencies such as slow SQL queries
McKesson also uses ExtraHop to empower their IT staff to do more. "ExtraHop enables us to grow our hosting business efficiently, and we saved over $260,000 in staffing in our first year," explains Checkoway. "With our new model, we require only two-thirds of the engineers that we would have required previously to support new sites. For example, we need just one Citrix engineer to support four new sites compared to 2.6 Citrix engineers with the old model."

For more information about how McKesson is benefiting from the ExtraHop solution, read the case study: McKesson Makes Application Hosting for Hospitals Faster, More Efficient

Learn more about how ExtraHop is able to identify and remediate Citrix ICA client latency, then try the free, interactive ExtraHop demo to try it yourself.

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