CASE STUDY

Why ANS Uses LogicMonitor to Track the Performance of its Massive Fleet of FlexPods

Company

ANS Group

Employees

252

Industry

MSP (Managed Service Provider)

TAGS

MSP, Performance Monitoring, Cloud Monitoring, Managed Service Provider, UK, Success Story

ANS is a UK-based Cloud and Managed Service Provider with more than 20 years of experience in the industry. Despite the extremely fast-paced, competitive nature of the Service Provider space, ANS has grown continuously for the last 11 years, achieving more than $81 million in annual revenue. According to Chris Hodgson, ANS’ Service Delivery Director, the industry has shifted from a model in which “clients want to see blinking lights and device statuses, to one in which they want to consume services and applications through a pipeline that’s always on and extremely fast.” To meet this demand head-on, ANS specializes in the deployment and management of FlexPods, the highly-scalable, converged infrastructure platform comprised of Cisco Unified Computing System, Cisco Nexus switches, VMware virtualization, and NetApp storage. ANS’ FlexPod deployments account for about 50% of the FlexPods in the UK and nearly 20% of all FlexPods in EMEA.

Challenge

ANS needs to deliver applications and services quickly and reliably, while maintaining visibility into increasingly complex and distributed client environments. Prior to LogicMonitor, ANS’ open-source monitoring tool was not cutting it in terms of visibility, automation, and speed, despite substantial staff investments in its configuration and maintenance.

Every time Cisco updated their MIBs, changed CPUs, etc., ANS would have to manually reconfigure their monitoring tool to keep up with the changes. It also became clear that even though the bulk of ANS’ service offering rests on FlexPods, their clients had other legacy infrastructure on hand; this meant they also had to spend time configuring monitoring for legacy devices. They were faced with the choice of doubling their monitoring team to keep up with all of the tool maintenance or finding a new monitoring solution.

For a Service Provider obsessed with blazing speed—product lines include RAPID and RAPID FIRE—it simply wasn’t an option to continue with a tool that couldn’t keep up with them. They needed a monitoring platform that was SaaS-based, automated and scalable, highly customizable, and able to quickly generate ROI for their business. ANS also possesses a strong, performance-based culture, focusing on continuous development and improvement, and they wanted a monitoring partner whose culture was aligned with their own. Hodgson explains ANS’ decision to adopt LogicMonitor as one motivated by their pursuit of best-in-class service delivery: “ANS only works with technology partners it believes in. We use Cisco UCS because we think it’s the best. We use FlexPod because we think it’s the best. We chose LogicMonitor for the same reason.”

Solution

ANS’ decision to implement LogicMonitor as their infrastructure monitoring solution has resulted in a series of major benefits, including a fast ROI, more granular performance metrics, and a noticeable improvement in internal knowledge-sharing and external transparency for their clients. “With help from LogicMonitor,” Hodgson explains, “we’ve been able to change the conversation in our customer base from ‘can we do this with our technology?,’ to ‘business-driven decisions and outcomes.’”

Faster ROI, Fewer Tools

Since LogicMonitor automates much of the implementation process, from discovering and adding devices, to collecting and visualizing performance data, ANS has been able to cut their average FlexPod deployment time dramatically.

The industry-standard timeframe to deploy a FlexPod is approximately six months. Leveraging LogicMonitor has helped ANS cut that 6-month timeline to less than 30 days, meaning ANS can onboard more clients, more quickly, and generate a faster ROI. In addition to faster on-boarding, LogicMonitor has helped ANS consolidate tools, displacing their former reporting tool and driving the report creation timeline down from a week or more for each report to approximately 30 seconds. LogicMonitor has reduced the number of applications their engineers rely on and consolidated all their critical data collection, visualization, and reporting functions into a single SaaS-based platform. “Everyone on our team uses LogicMonitor first,” Hodgson says, “Instead of logging into four different systems, we log into LogicMonitor first and go from there. Cost efficiency has gone through the roof and MTTR has decreased significantly.”

More Granular Cisco Metrics

ANS has also found that LogicMonitor provides more granular performance metrics for their FlexPods than their previous tool. LogicMonitor tracks performance data for each component of their FlexPod infrastructure: Cisco UCS, Cisco Nexus switches, NetApp storage, and VMware virtualization. For Cisco UCS, LogicMonitor collects everything from the Operating State and Health State of Cisco Blade servers, to Ambient and Card Temperatures of I/O cards, Power Consumption, Service profiles, Ethernet Interface Traffic, and much more. For Cisco Nexus switches, LogicMonitor pulls a number of metrics, including all active interfaces, BGP sessions, CPUs, memory pools, temperature sensors, QoS policies, IP SLA profiles. Selected NetApp metrics include data for every active interface, total CPU usage, disk activity, I/O per second, cache age, per volume space, inode and snapshot utilization. LogicMonitor will also track VMware ESX hosts, datastores, virtual machines, resource pools, hardware health, and more.

In addition to the breadth and depth of coverage for their FlexPod components, ANS is also getting “significantly deeper insights into the applications running on their FlexPods, mainly SQL and Exchange.” For example, LogicMonitor automatically discovers and monitors all SQL instances, collecting data on numbers and types of operations (selects, updates, inserts, rollbacks, etc.), Cache Hit Rate, Query Response Times, Table Scans and Index Usage, Replication Status, and more. With this added visibility, ANS has been able to more effectively optimize application performance and availability across their client base.

Benefits

Improved Transparency, Obvious Value

Beyond providing fast, secure, and highly available services to their clients, Service Providers like ANS face the additional challenge of regularly communicating their value to their clients—a difficult task given the complexity and volume of their activities. In an effort to increase transparency and effectively communicate the value of their activities to their clients on an ongoing, “live” basis, ANS takes advantage of LogicMonitor’s granular role-based access control to offer their clients read-only credentials for their respective LogicMonitor account. This means clients can log into LogicMonitor anytime to see performance data, alerts, dashboards, and more. Access like this supplements ANS’ monthly reports, granting clients direct visibility into the platform and providing them with tangible examples (alerts resolved, configurations updated, etc.) of the value ANS provides.

Internally, putting all of their client infrastructure performance data in a single application promotes knowledge-sharing and eradicates finger-pointing and other inefficiencies. Externally, clients see the value ANS provides and are easily assured their Service Provider’s activities are aligned with their business goals. Hodsgon says, “Our customers absolutely love being able to log into LogicMonitor—they get to see everything that’s happening. There’s no black-boxing or black-cloud approach. They see exactly what we’re doing for them. Everyone knows what’s going on and we’re all moving in the same direction.”

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