Case Study: FloraHolland | NETSCOUT

Case Study: FloraHolland Trusts TruView™ to Monitor the Network and Applications Responsible for Auctioning 12.5 Billion Plants and Flowers Each Year

At a Glance:

Customer:

FloraHolland


Industry:

International Auction and Marketplace


Location:

The Netherlands


Challenge:

FloraHolland is at the center of the international flower trade, selling more than 20,000 different types of plants and flowers at auction and processing $12.5 billion items and $4.4 billion each year. The remarkable size and impact of FloraHolland requires continuous operations with zero tolerance for network performance delays or downtime. FloraHolland recently encountered a response time delay between the database and the auction clock. The delay slowed the clock display information by up to two seconds between each auction, which is far too long in this environment. The IT team needed a mechanism to pinpoint the issue and determine if the root cause lay with the database, application, or network.

 


Result:

TruView™ immediately identified the database as the root cause, as it was taking an extra second or two to process the query and respond. FloraHolland was able to optimize the database and fix the problem without wasted effort reviewing the network and application, since the issue was isolated immediately. The overarching result saves FloraHolland two hours of accumulated delays each year, equaling $200,000 in annual savings and an improved brand image for its operations.


Product:

NETSCOUT TruView™

"The Netherlands is the birthplace of floriculture, and that leadership is expanding with the digitization and virtualization of the auction networks. TruView ensures that the Netherlands and FloraHolland retain our leadership position in providing plants and flowers to the world. The next time you enjoy a flower, it’s very possible that the TruView played a part in the experience." - Leo de Waard, a network systems engineer for FloraHolland.


Overview

FloraHolland is at the center of the international flower trade. The cooperative organization operates 38 international auction clock marketplaces in the interest of its more than 5,000 members. These marketplaces sell more than 20,000 different types of plants and flowers at auction, processing 12.5 billion items and $4.4 billion each year.

FloraHolland and its Greenport directly employ 4,000 people, but have a much broader impact on the overarching Dutch economy. In total, the Greenport is one of three economic ‘mainports’ (along with Schiphol airport and the Port of Rotterdam) and is responsible for 20 percent of the Dutch trade surplus.

Challenges

The remarkable size and impact of FloraHolland requires continuous operations with zero tolerance for network performance delays or downtime. Performance expectations are high for the FloraHolland IT team and its network.

"FloraHolland relies on optimal network response times to our auction applications and databases to present, track, and sell plants and flowers as quickly as possible, said Leo de Waard, a network systems engineer for FloraHolland. “As soon as one product is sold, we need to be able to showcase the next item immediately. Time is of the essence, and we can’t waste it with unnecessary troubleshooting steps."

In an auction clock environment, plants and flowers are brought into a room to be bid on by both in-person and online buyers. A database pushes information to the clock, which displays the product, quantity, price, and time left at auction. Bidders push a button to purchase flowers based on the price displayed on the clock at that particular time. As soon as the product is sold, a new product is displayed as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, FloraHolland recently encountered a response time delay between the database and the auction clock. The delay slowed the clock display information by up to two seconds between each auction, which is far too long in this environment. The IT team needed a mechanism to pinpoint the issue and determine if the root cause lay with the database, application, or network. That was easier said than done at the time, given the organization’s complex, homegrown databases and applications.

"A delay of even a few seconds is unacceptable when we’re auctioning more than 50 million items each day to on-site and international bidders," said de Waard. "Time literally translates to money at FloraHolland, so we do everything possible to mitigate delays."

Solution

FloraHolland evaluated multiple technologies before implementing a TruView unified network and application performance monitoring and troubleshooting solution from NETSCOUT. FloraHolland deployed TruView to monitor and troubleshoot both its backbone and marketplace networks. The backbone network is made up of two core switches, two connected server switches, and five distribution switches. This infrastructure powers the organization’s home-grown applications and databases. The backbone network is connected to the marketplace network, which powers all auction bidding through numerous connections to in-person bidding devices and online bidding applications.

TruView uses key data sets (including packet storage, application response time, transactional decode, NetFlow and SNMP) to highlight performance metrics through a single dashboard. The comprehensive overview of both network and application performance provides Flora Holland with a clear picture of where issues originate across both the backbone and marketplace networks.

"TruView tracks the networks and devices for all auction activities,” said de Waard. “It doesn’t make any difference what the issue is or where it originates, giving us immediate access across our entire infrastructure. The response-time savings are phenomenal."

Results

FloraHolland used TruView to troubleshoot its delays between auctions. The solution monitored performance from the application data query across the network to the database and back. TruView immediately identified the database as the root cause, taking an extra second or two to process the query and respond. FloraHolland’s IT team optimized the database and fixed the problem without wasted effort scrutinizing the entire network and application, since the issue was isolated immediately.

TruView provides visibility into the FloraHolland network, applications, and databases from a single solution so the organization’s IT team does not waste time unnecessarily pinpointing where issues originate. The result saves FloraHolland two hours of accumulated delays each year, equaling $200,000 in annual savings, along with an improved brand image for its operations.

"The Netherlands is the birthplace of floriculture, and that leadership is expanding with the digitization and virtualization of the auction networks," said Leo de Waard, a network systems engineer for FloraHolland. "TruView ensures that the Netherlands and FloraHolland will retain our leadership position in providing plants and flowers to the world. The next time you enjoy a flower, it’s very possible that the TruView played a part in the experience."