Over the years there have been web outages that have brought businesses to their knees and exposed the need for better application performance monitoring. Behind the scenes people are fired and solutions are found to make sure the situation never happens again. For banks, online retailers and social sites the crisis makes the news for a day or two and then goes away. On October 1st 2013, along came the Affordable Care Act, arguably one of the most high-profile website applications – ever.
Issues with the website were immediate and extensive and for many people rushing to use the site, it all started to go wrong at login. For anyone that has been in the IT industry for even the shortest amount of time, it is baffling how a disaster of this magnitude could possibly happen with a website. It’s not a new science and certainly not one lacking in tools specifically designed to test and monitor website resilience and consumer experience before letting it loose on an unsuspecting public who are used to things just working. With weeks-long issues still plaguing the system, a hearing was held on October 24th on Capital Hill where the website contractors claimed the government failed to properly test the system before it was launched. Which, if true, begs the question that when you spend over $290 million to develop a website, shouldn’t some of that have been used on technology to ensure the taxpayers’ money provided millions of consumers a good online experience?
Typically when websites are developed they are tested using ‘synthetic’ transaction monitoring that simulates consumer activity to ensure web performance is within expected parameters, the projected consumer load does not impact website service and all application web pages are available and without error. Once this pre-deployment test is passed, then further Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tools are used to monitor the end-user experience, back-end IT infrastructure transaction performance and the performance of the individual website service components (e.g. networks, servers and databases).
For the Affordable Care Act website the errors span the ‘end-to-end’ spectrum requiring technology that monitors from the consumer all the way through the back-end infrastructure. Even though fixing this issue now will be like changing the tires on your car while it is moving, it will be best accomplished using APM products able to identify the specific root-cause faults (e.g. data retrieval, page faults, broken links), performance degradations and bottlenecks, no matter where they exist from the consumer device all the way to the database.
At BMC we have the APM tools that help businesses avoid the ‘kinks’ and ‘flaws’ currently impacting the Governments Affordable Care Act website. Few things impact a business’s credibility, viability and consumer confidence faster than an outage on the client facing application. From test to production and from IT consumer to the IT infrastructure, BMC has the tools that can ensure success and avoid catastrophic business impacting failure (Application Performance Management – BMC Software).