Touring Club Suisse : improving business performance by focusing upon end-user experience
With 1.6 million members, the Touring Club of Switzerland is the leading organization in Switzerland active in the areas of assistance to persons and vehicles. Its 220 patrol officers carry nearly 300,000 repairs per year and can hit the road immediately in 86% of cases. Nearly 700,000 people have confidence in ETI Booklet repatriating in Switzerland more than 700 people and 3,000 vehicles per year.
TCS decided to take proactive action following an increase in user complaints and the occurrence of incidents. TCS sought to guarantee its users (internal users or external clients) the best possible application performance and to ensure such incidents did not affect overall business performance.
Although TCS was already equipped with a range of specialized tools such as Nagios to monitor its network and IT system, these traditional QoS monitoring tools failed to detect such incidents whilst indicating that individual components were performing well “green lights/service up”. This approach thus proved to be insufficient due to the limitations of protocol tests with Nagios with the end-user experience not being monitored. Moreover, it was very difficult to identify the origin of the complaints and the current tools failed to check if the production environment was working correctly. Consequently TCS looked to implement a solution to monitor the end-user experience (QoE) across the whole of the delivery chain to complement and complete their current monitoring tools. TCS also wished to set up automatic SLA reporting with internal business clients notably for business units that directly generate revenues (sales, customer support and assistance).
Critical applications with various interfaces
TCS chose the Newtest solution thanks to its ability to proactively monitor end-to-end application performance from an end-user perspective for all types of business critical applications. TCS wished to monitor a range of applications used by internal and external customers. These included web client applications (e.g. purchasing a product on TCS’s website), SAP with a fat client access, as well as Salesforce.com used by internal customers. One of the challenges was to monitor an especially sensitive application developed in-house with access via Java client. This application concerns a customer request management system used by agents taking calls from TCS’s final customers who have experienced vehicle breakdown and thus require urgent assistance.
“Only Newtest was able to provide a true end-user vision for this application, we tested other solutions but only Newtest was able to handle all of our applications”, Nabil Berreghioua, Head of Operations.
Newtest implementation at TCS
All of the critical applications are monitored across 3 strategic locations in Switzerland corresponding to TCS’s all important call centres. A Newtest Robot is located at each site and fulfils TCS desire to automate end-user quality tests to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Prior to adopting Newtest, TCS carried out tests manually every morning at 7am. Newtest Robots launch scenarios at regular intervals enabling TCS to compare response time differences and detect bottlenecks across their sites to isolate performance issues. Newtest also provides flexibility via to the Test on Request Robot allowing additional and complementary scenarios to be triggered upon request to establish more precise diagnosis in case of incidents.
“When everything is green thanks to Newtest we are now fully reassured that everything is working fine A-to-Z. If there are any problems we can now be much more proactive in terms of root cause analysis to launch our recovery plan before the end users complain. We can proactively inform our helpdesk about issues thus improving overall communications and limiting the impact upon our business” added Nabil Berreghioua, Head of Operations.
The reasons for choosing Newtest
During a successful proof of concept, TCS found Newtest easy to set-up and especially appreciated its user-friendly approach facilitating for example the scripting of scenarios. Newtest was also noted for its effectiveness in simulating usage from the SAP fat client and Java client of the customer request management system. The initial outlay was seen as competitive with respect to other solutions.
Newtest also caters for round-the-world coverage of monitoring needs in the short term (web and business applications), medium term (IP telephony and unified communications) and long term (iPhone applications).
“Installation was complete within just 3 days, plus 2 days to train the IT team after which the solution was fully operational in our environment – internal user vision of an entire range of web and business applications for 3 main sites”, Nabil Berreghioua, Head of Operations
Newtest & Nagios: a unique QoS/QoE solution
The fact that Newtest is an open solution and can be easily integrated with Nagios provides value added to TCS. “The Newtest plug-in for Nagios is well documented and the integration was trouble free and easy – we needed no specific knowledge of Nagios or Linux”. This interface between the 2 solutions offers a high value solution to traditional Nagios users (system specialists) by changing Nagios into an all-in-one real time monitoring console – including networks, systems and application status. Ironically, Newtest is now used for end-to-end applicative tests as well as protocol tests like SOAP for Web Services, as it provides complementary information to Nagios across TCS’s 3 strategic locations, as well as providing graphics for response times which facilitate reporting to senior management.
Newtest has been widely adopted by application specialists thanks to the Newtest Operation Portal. “This portal provides a clear and synthetic real time vision of end-user performance at a glance; it is our reference in terms of application performance.” The NOP offer allows actions can to be carried out centrally for example to suspend scenarios or Robots covering one or all of the 3 sites.
Finally, Newtest also gained legitimacy with business decision makers. Every Monday morning a Report is generated specifically to follow-up SLA’s which are reviewed by senior managers including different responses times between the 3 sites based on Newtest data (trends, response times, performance).
Newtest has proved to be an essential tool with multiple usages. These include alerting and diagnostics adapted for 1st tier helpdesk (support level 1), systems and application specialists (Level 2 and 3) as well as SLA reporting to business management. The Helpdesk relies on Newtest to detect who is impacted by problems and whether these are isolated or general trends depending upon which sites are impacted. Moreover the synergy between the Nagios console (used by the systems specialists) and the Newtest Operation Portal (used by application specialists) provides a truly holistic view of performance.
TCS intention is to monitor more critical applications with Newtest in the future including: voice quality as part of the deployment of Alcatel ToIP solution
and iPhone applications. Moreover, TCS would also like to benefit from the Newtest Hosted Offer, which would enable to monitor access performance to Salesforce.com as it is perceived by nomadic employees and tele-workers connected via the internet. The Newtest Hosted offer actually gives the possibility to deploy active probes outside the company, with direct connection to major public internet backbones like Swisscom.
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