La Poste monitoring application services to keep pace with La Poste’s modernization

La Poste is a company whose capital has been 100% public since 1 March 2010. La Poste’s business is structured around four activities: postal mail, parcels/express mail, the Banque Postale banking services, and the brand La Poste. Every year La Poste’s 17,000 points of contact do business with 45 million private customers and 3.5 million corporate accounts. The industrial apparatus at La Poste enables it to process and dispatch 26 billion objects a year. In 2009, the La Poste group posted a turnover of 20.5 billion euros, with a workforce of over 287,000 people.


The context

Since its reorganization, La Poste has formed separate ‘DSIs’ or information systems departments for each of its activities (banking, mail, brand, etc.). The DSI for the mail business manages all applications that come under the responsibility of the Mail Directorate. The information systems of the Mail Directorate are spread across 4 centers: the Direction itself, located in the Paris region, 2 production sites, and an enginerring site in the provinces. These centers oversee 4000 servers. Of these, 2500 serve up applications for the Direction’s internal or external use (such as SAP, invoicing, parcel tracking, etc.) and are placed with a hosting company. The 1500 others are housed at sorting centers and local branches.


Quality: an obsession of the DSI at the Mail Directorate

To monitor the availability of internal and internet application services, controls were carried out manually for a long time. Verifications that were performed manually or using internally developed scripts checked each of the 200 customer services that required monitoring every morning to see whether the page was accessible. Obviously this took a lot of time and was hard to manage, not to mention that an application available at 10:30 am when the check was performed could be unavailable 15 minutes later. In 2008, a decision was made to switch to a more proactive type of management of the availability of customer services, and the choice was in favor of Newtest monitoring solution from ip-label.


” The Newtest solution has demonstrated its reliability, and has become indispensible for us. As soon as a new application is rolled out, right from the start it is subjected to measurement by a Newtest robot.” François Lecerf, La Poste, Mail Directorate, Mail Information System Department, Technical & Production Department.


The industrialization of monitoring of application availability

Newtest measures end-to-end response times, availability, and performance of critical services from the viewpoint of the end user. With Newtest, the Mail Directorate built its own measurement network. At points considered to be representative of usage, it installed robots to simulate business transactions on a regular basis. At present La Poste relies on 17 Newtest robots. Each has the task of simulating a dozen scenarios every 15 minutes. For internal applications, these scenarios run during opening hours; those that test online customer services operate around the clock.

In this way the DSI, at any time and at each measurement point, can be aware of the availability, response time, and performance of its 200 application services. Because of this it is easy to quickly identify the causes of malfunctions, to signal their existence immediately, and fix them before they are noticed by users. To round out the array of robots, the Mail Directorate has also implemented Newtest Test On Request: this module is designed to run spot checks outside the timeframes set for the robots.

In parallel with the robots, La Poste also uses the Newtest Reporting tool. Access is granted to developers who process data in the context of code optimization. At the same time, there is open access to data for anyone working in IT production, as well as for the quality and service agreement monitoring units that bind the DSI to customers, whether internal or external to La Poste.


Newtest, a tool at the core of an overarching system…

This tool rounds out those already in place for monitoring performance and managing maintenance and incidents. All of these tools are combined within a monitoring cockpit. This station is made up of numerous control screens that provide a view of the state of applications every 15 minutes. Six people work there to set off alarms in case a malfunction is encountered. Behind the scenes are a service desk in charge of fixing anomalies before they become visible on the user side and a team responsible for reporting.


Newtest, a reliable solution sustaining modernization at La Poste

Today, the Direction du Courrier is entirely satisfied with the Newtest suite and all that it brings to modernization at La Poste. The arguments that weighed in its favor during the initial selection were the ease of developing scenarios and the optimized cost of the solution. Furthermore, its implementation and infrastructure are so straightforward that La Poste had no hesitation in virtualizing the probes. Because Newtest’s great reliability has been demonstrated, use of the solution has become normal practice.

All of the group’s critical applications are monitored with Newtest even while the number of applications is rising continuously in the context of the modernization of the mail service. For example there is now one application for tablets for tracking mail, and its availability is regularly monitored by Newtest robots. Another proof of unanimous acclaim for the solution within the group: the international post wants to adopt the same tool as soon as it joins the Direction du Courrier. This will result in the deployment of 3 additional robots: 1 for internet applications and 2 for internal applications.