Large Packaging Manufacturer
Filling machines and aseptic beverage packaging systems at a large manufacturer in Germany play a vital role in helping hundreds of companies worldwide bring products to market. These complex systems include heavy manufacturing equipment run by proprietary software that is all networked into backend systems that a customer and staff from the large manufacturer monitor and work with. In order to ensure the successful deployment and operation of these systems, the manufacturer must have complete insight into a customer’s network and application performance, and be able to identify issues and remediate them in real-time. If problems emerge with network performance, a stoppage or slow production cycle could occur, costing the organization both time and money.
To ensure complete insight into network and application performance, the manufacturer selected Visual Performance Manager (VPM) from Netscout. This network and application performance monitoring solution allows the team to guarantee the reliability of its packaging systems to customers. If a problem does emerge, or a change on the network impacts performance, it can be investigated from a centralized dashboard with just a few clicks, and remediated in just minutes. Without this level of monitoring and performance data, the manufacturer would not be able to provide some of the most reliable packaging production systems in the world.
Netscout Visual Performance Manager™ (VPM)
“VPM is one of the most comprehensive systems we’ve ever worked with. It allows us to monitor the application performance and bandwidth consumption of networks that run our production systems and drill down into data to solve problems fast, or adjust the network in real-time. The solution’s ease-of-use and presentation of correlated performance data is absolutely key for our teams to collaborate and service the network. Without VPM, production cycles could be disrupted, errors could occur, and our customers’ bottom line could be significantly impacted. The solution has unified our team and our performance monitoring.” - - Network Engineer at a Large Manufacturer
This manufacturer is one of the world's leading system suppliers of carton packaging and filling machines for beverages and food. The company supplies complete systems including packaging materials, corresponding filling machines, and backend product software and infrastructure.Challenges
The manufacturer provides custom software and backend office servers that network and support their packaging systems. This allows the company to tap into a customer network and help manage and monitor performance associated with their real-time production systems. However, this level of access opens the floodgates to a variety of new network and application performance information.
“Today’s packaging systems are extremely sophisticated ecosystems of hardware, production equipment, software and packaging. They’re all networked and functioning in real-time, getting updated packaging information constantly,” said a network engineer at the manufacturer. “If the network is slow or the application is impacted by bandwidth, it can cause production errors, or even worse, a complete stoppage of the system.”
Unfortunately, the company’s previous solution for monitoring network and application performance lacked the ability to see all the data, and did a poor job of correlating information in real time. In addition, the solution was not able to handle the sheer number of sites the company monitors and lacked licensing capabilities to support the IT teams. This meant that engineers could not access all the performance data at once and had to shift licenses around when they needed access to customer networks.
“We are networked into the customer operating system remotely to provide support for our production systems,” said the network manager. “Customer networks often have changes in performance due to application usage or high-traffic network use times. This can all have a big impact on a production system and it’s therefore important to monitor to ensure the best performance. Lacking this visibility, and the capability to shift or optimize bandwidth, can have an adverse effect on the performance of our solutions. We needed a solution that would give us complete insight into performance and allow us to quickly drill down and isolate a problem so it could be fixed before it caused real problems.”
In addition to customer networks, the manager and the engineering team also monitor and troubleshoot the internal company network for thousands of worldwide users. Many are using bandwidth intensive business applications such as SAP, CAD and Cognos to design and produce the packages and filling machine systems.
“We experience performance issues at our plants and sales offices where applications such as SAP suddenly run very slowly,” said the network manager. “Our monitoring system would only alert us that a connection was broken without the important details and information needed to isolate and remediate. This would require us to then manually troubleshoot with a variety of tools and begin the proverbial ‘needle in a haystack’ routine. We really needed a solution that could monitor all network and application performance and allow us to drill down into detailed information for problem resolution.”Solution
The company selected Netscout's Visual Performance Manager for end-to-end monitoring of network and application performance, and to verify and troubleshoot issues in real-time. With a centralized dashboard, the team can remotely monitor their internal company network, as well as customer sites, and quickly drill down for more information.
With the solution, the company can automate application, server and site discovery, monitor and baseline end-user experience, and get complete visibility into network traffic and transaction level performance.
“We selected VPM because it gave us complete visibility into a large number of sites, both for our customers and internal use. The dashboard view provides a correlated view of information, can alarm us when baselines are missed, and allows us to quickly drill into data should problems with bandwidth or application performance emerge,” said the network manager. “VPM allows us to collaborate and better manage the network… without it, we could not deliver the level of service we promise our customers.”
Since installing VPM the network support team has been able to optimize application performance worldwide from a central location. The system allows the team to access a high level overview across the enterprise and at customer sites. When needed, they can drill all the way down to one client request and one server response to assess the problem. If bandwidth issues arise, the team can instantly reallocate bandwidth to meet the needs of a production site, and proactively eliminate a potential problem.
“VPM has really streamlined how we monitor network and application performance and given us the tools we need to quickly isolate an issue and move toward fast remediation,” said the network manager. “My colleagues and I can quickly collaborate on issues and view response time breakdown graphs so we can compare network round trip response time versus application response time. This allows us to rule out problems associated with the network and get to root cause very fast. Having this type of information for all the network and applications we monitor, through one dashboard is an amazing step forward in the management process.”
In addition, the IT team can instantly click on transaction details for any event and drill down into slow transactions to view both the client request and the server response. The information can be passed to the application team to help understand the issue and improve performance. The team can also automatically analyze the bandwidth being used on a network and make contingency plans as needed to avoid performance delays or adjust allocation on the fly.
“We have an employee that is always replicating files during the day, instead of doing it overnight, which consumes a tremendous amount of bandwidth. Before we had VPM, we would have to reactively address the issue based on when he started this activity,” said the network manager. “Now, we can control and reduce his bandwidth around those events so he doesn’t impact the entire network. This type of scenario is also replicated almost weekly at customer sites. The ability to react in real-time or proactively plan for these types of events allows us to deliver a very stable solution to clients.”
The network manager and his team also benefit greatly from VPM’s reporting and collaboration features. The team generates regular reports and shares that information with other teams to coordinate network and application management.
“It really helps us work as a team and eliminates the finger pointing that can sometimes be associated with siloed teams. We can all access real-time information, review that information together, and figure out the best course of action to isolate and fix a problem. I can’t imagine going back to our previous approach. VPM helps keep us all on the same page,” said the network manager.
In the future, the company hopes to fold in cloud infrastructure, virtual environments, and VoIP systems for monitoring and management as well.
“VPM is one of the most comprehensive systems we’ve ever worked with. It allows us to monitor the application performance and bandwidth consumption of networks that run our production systems and drill down into data to solve problems fast, or adjust the network in real-time. The solution’s ease-of-use and presentation of correlated performance data is absolutely key for our teams to collaborate and service the network,” said the network manager. “Without VPM, production cycles could be disrupted, errors could occur, and our customers’ bottom line could be significantly impacted. The solution has unified our team and our performance monitoring.”
For a deeper look into how this solution can help you solve problems, check out the eKnowledge page at www.netscout.com/eknowledge