7/29/2003 - Compuware Corporation (NASDAQ: CPWR) announced that Amerisure Insurance Company, a leading regional property and casualty mutual insurance company, has selected Compuware Vantage performance management and Compuware QACenter testing tools as a powerful, joint solution for proactively managing all new applications. The decision to turn to performance testing and monitoring tools to help eliminate application performance degradation serves as the cornerstone of a strategy for improving service for the new Amerisure Policy System (APS).
At the heart of the APS are key applications such as a customer claims program and a new policy database. Amerisure representatives rely on these applications to write new policies and respond to customer inquiries. Any interruptions could result in degraded service for customers or even delayed payments.
“We wanted a testing product that would allow us not only to baseline transactions, but also to see what kind of stress we could put on our network and servers, and to show us how our application would react in our remote offices,” says Kurt Whitehead, database administrator and lead technical architect at Amerisure. “We wanted to know these things upfront, so we wouldn’t be dead in the water the first day in production.”
Planning ahead, the IT group was also in the market for a monitoring tool to use in production. “The thing that drove us crazy in the past was not knowing something was wrong until our users called to tell us,” says Whitehead. “With our new APS, we wanted to be able to react to problems before users were aware of them, so we needed to put something in place to monitor the system.”
After comparing various products on the market, the decision was made to purchase the Compuware Vantage suite of tools for performance monitoring and QACenter for pre-production stress testing. “We were sold on the ease of use of these two products,” said Whitehead.
Pre-Production Load Testing, Transaction Profiling
“While rolling out the new application we looked at several testing products, but we were most interested in QACenter,” says Whitehead. “When I tried to demo some of the other products, it seemed like it would take months to set up and start testing. Within two days of using QACenter, I was basically creating my own scripts and running tests. QACenter did exactly what we needed. We were able to probe down into the field, and run things from here as if our branches were running the application themselves,” says Whitehead.
While performing remote testing with QACenter at Amerisure’s disparate offices, Whitehead located a sluggish transaction. With Vantage: “We tracked SQL statements and found that while our application took a second to run in our office, it took a minute and 20 seconds at a remote office,” says Whitehead.
Since the IT group planned to upgrade data lines from 256 to T1 within a couple of weeks, Whitehead used Vantage’s bandwidth analyzer to simulate the latency of this particular transaction to the remote site as if via T1 lines. “We learned that going to T1 would take almost a minute off the total transaction time,” says Whitehead. “It was nice to be able to tell that branch to hold on for a couple weeks, and they’d see a faster response. We knew the end result of the upgrade before it happened.”
Pre-Production Testing, Production Monitoring
Whitehead has also used Vantage for application and database monitoring. During pre-production, when Whitehead wanted to gauge CPU and memory usage on the server, he would simulate 20 users at a transaction and wait to see what metrics Vantage would capture. “I used QACenter reports to show all the SQL statements that were run behind a transaction, and then I used Vantage reports to see exactly where my CPU peaked out,” says Whitehead. “Vantage could show me the statement using the most I/O.”
Now that the application is in production, the IT group uses Vantage daily to monitor the APS database and prevent potential issues. “I receive helpful e-mail alerts from it all the time,” says Whitehead.
In addition, Amerisure uses Compuware Vantage for performance monitoring, relying on it to monitor WAN latency and to check network and server traffic. Vantage also helps ensure that the network is being used for intended purposes. At one point, it even identified a popular radio station as a top server. An employee downloaded his favorite radio station and shared the site with friends at other branches, causing the network to run slowly. Vantage drilled down to the endpoint of a server to discover who was visiting the radio station, by computer name and location. The appropriate personnel were identified, and the problem was resolved.
“Amerisure and Compuware have had a strategic partnership,” says Frank Petersmark, Vice President of IT at Amerisure. “Compuware has consistently provided systems and services that drive real value to the IT initiatives at Amerisure. Meeting the expectations of our users means delivering new applications with outstanding quality. Compuware provided the systems and consultative expertise to allow us to do so, greatly enhancing the business value of the application.”
Compuware Corporation, a multi-billion dollar company, provides business value through software and professional services that optimize productivity and reduce costs across the application life cycle. Meeting the rapidly changing needs of businesses of all sizes, Compuware’s market-leading solutions improve the quality, ease the integration and enhance the performance of distributed, e-business and enterprise software. For more information about Compuware, please contact the corporate offices at 800-521-9353. You may also visit Compuware on the World Wide Web at http://www.compuware.com/.
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