Customer Story:

European Retailer

Sweden-Based Retail Group Ensures Performance During Critical Application Migration

The Beginning

Each day, more than 300,000 customers walk into this retailer's stores in Sweden, Finland, or Norway. The group consists of department store chain Åhléns, beauty retailers Kicks and Esthetique, and the home furnishing chain Lagerhaus.

This retailer operates a shared IT services model to gain efficiencies and more effectively integrate acquired companies. As the group grows in size, their IT team needs to find ways to deliver better services at lower costs.

"One of the goals of our centralized IT model is to give our companies an edge in IT innovation," says one of their operations managers. "At the same time, we continually look for ways to do more with less. We must deliver more IT for every dollar spent."

These goals drove the company to replace some custom-developed business systems with new off-the-shelf solutions. During the testing phase of these projects, they found that its legacy server-monitoring infrastructure did not readily accommodate the new systems.

"When architecting our new solutions, we needed to test different assumptions and see how they affected performance. SNMP polling monitored the health of the components but not the application in a holistic manner."

The Transformation

Looking for a more modern monitoring solution, the retailer turned to RADPOINT, an application delivery and security integrator that had recently implemented a next-generation firewall for the company. RADPOINT recommended the ExtraHop for providing correlated, cross-tier visibility in dynamic and heterogeneous IT environments.

Together, they decided to deploy ExtraHop in their test environment. "I was impressed with the application performance visibility that ExtraHop provided out of the box," says the operations manager. "We could immediately see all the devices present on the network and their dependencies, as well as the impact of core network services such as LDAP and DNS on application performance."

"Previously, we could measure the performance of individual elements of the infrastructure but could not easily isolate the root cause of interrelated problems," he explains. "ExtraHop gave us an excellent top-down view of application performance along with the ability to drill-down into detailed transaction metrics."

The project team used ExtraHop to identify several performance bottlenecks for the application:

  • Isolated a bug in the application servers that slowed performance for retail stores
  • Solved database performance issues related to indexing and poorly written application queries
  • Detected TCP timeouts caused by DNS issues and server misconfigurations using IPv6 instead of IPv4
  • Optimized HTTP front-end communications with back-end business systems

The company plans to use ExtraHop to ensure a smooth rollout of the upcoming projects, facilitate testing and deployment of these projects, and support various other IT initiatives.

"We plan to expand our use of ExtraHop to cover all of our applications. The value of this solution is so significant that we plan to have it in each of our datacenters."

The Benefits

With correlated, cross-tier visibility of application performance, the retailer reduced risk for new rollouts, solved esoteric performance issues, and gained a more flexible monitoring solution.

Reduced Risk for Deployment

The central IT group is responsible for supporting ambitious growth plans for the company, including acquisitions such as the 2010 purchase of Esthetique. With real-time insights from ExtraHop, they are able to support rapidly changing business needs.

"We have a number of major IT projects in which ExtraHop will play a crucial role," says the operations manager. "ExtraHop gives us greater confidence that new applications are developed and deployed correctly. We can verify assumptions and ensure the best result with performance measurements across all the tiers of our application environment."

Identified Esoteric Performance Issues

Using ExtraHop, the team is able to identify esoteric, interrelated performance issues and then pinpoint the root cause.

"Whether it is a customer browsing one of our online stores or an employee entering an order at checkout, the success of our business depends on fast and reliable performance. With ExtraHop, we can ensure that our customers and employees can quickly access information and complete transactions."

Simple Deployment

ExtraHop was deployed in less than an hour and value was realized immediately. "We found the network-based approach of ExtraHop to be very refreshing. With this model, there are no agents or central server to deploy and nothing to configure or instrument. This simple deployment is incredibly important to our IT group as we look to deliver better services more efficiently. We need solutions like this that just work."

Easy to Use Across IT Domains

ExtraHop provides various IT teams with visibility into network, web, database, and storage performance. This correlated, cross-tier view has proven valuable to specialist teams who are responsible for various IT domains.

"ExtraHop's web interface is very clean and presents information in a way that breaks down traditional silos. Everyone has access to the same holistic information. It's not a niche tool; rather, it looks across the entire application environment," comments the operations manager. "We look forward to implementing this solution widely across our operations."

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