Monitoring through a Management Pack

Mary Kay, a global multi-level marketing company, deployed a complex MongoDB clustered environment across multiple servers spanning multiple datacenters to support their growing business and provide high availability and geo-redundancy. 

The Challenge

The customer wanted to proactively monitor this application in System Center Operations Manager (SCOM). The company was introduced to Infront Consulting through another local Microsoft Partner that referred to Infront as the Management Pack development gurus.

RESULTS

Infront developed a custom Management Pack (MP) to allow the customer to proactively monitor their mission-critical application. The MP was built to accomplish the following;

  1. Discover Multi-Instances– Infront wrote the MP to discover multi-node, inter-dependent clusters across multiple servers in a geographically dispersed cluster.  Mary Kay needed to discover and monitor a single node as a secondary for one cluster but as a primary for another or even possibly as the primary for multiple clusters in the event of a fail-over scenario. This was a complex request but one that Infront was able to provide a solution too.
  2. Replication Lag time delay monitoring was another complex monitoring request from the customer. In production, two servers act as secondary servers in the cluster, both replicating independently of one another. This can result in a replication delay between the primary and one secondary that differs from that of the primary and the other secondary.  Infront developed the complex monitoring logic to monitor independently the replication lag (delay) between the primary and each secondary’s, and provided the ability to customize the threshold check as well as the number of samples to check over.

At the end of this project, the customer had a custom MP that was able to discover all their MongoDB clusters, proactively monitor the health of the application and raise alerts for a number of production issues. This proactive monitoring provided them with insight into this critical platform and improved the overall availability while reducing the time required troubleshooting and resolving problems.

 

Solution Components


Avoiding Costly Penalties for Non-Compliance

One of Canada’s leading restaurant franchises came to Infront with a big challenge. None of their Point of Sale (PoS) and Windows XP embedded televisions that display the menus and price offerings were getting patches.

The Challenge

Each of the 4400+ franchises has a VPN connection back to corporate for the processing of credit card transactions. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) require that systems are compliant and a process is in place to ensure an acceptable level of security.

Results

Infront worked with the business to understand the business problem, collect the technical requirements and put together a solution that achieved the business goals and was technically elegant with little ongoing administrative costs.

Infront’s recommended solution was to install System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) in the Azure cloud and automate the deployment of the SCCM agent and a certificate used for mutual authentication to each of the systems in all of the restaurants. Like many retailers, each franchise offered its valued customers free Wi-Fi in the restaurant and the internet connection speed was typically faster than the VPN connection back to corporate.

Having SCCM in Azure allowed the corporate IT department to select the Windows updates that were to be deployed to all restaurants and to stagger the time of installation as to not disrupt business transactions and the overall customer experience. The security update policy was controlled and administered centrally but the updates were downloaded locally using the Wi-Fi internet connection in each of the stores. This provided the benefit of isolation, not requiring any domain joining or connection from the restaurants back to corporate.

In dealing with this aspect of PCI compliance, the corporation and its franchisees are more secure, and the management and administration of the solution is minimal, making it easy and cost effective to support.

The customer was able to avoid costly penalties from non-compliance. The systems in the store are more secure, reducing the attack surface and likelihood of a ransom-ware attack. The solution required no new hardware or use of existing IT infrastructure, as it was all cloud based. The solution could be automated to shut down during times when it was not being used to save further on Azure consumption costs.

Solution Components


Point of Sale Automation

Cineplex Theaters is one of Canada’s leading entertainment companies and operates one of the most modern and fully digitized motion-picture theater circuits in the world.

The Challenge

Cineplex had introduced an automated payment system that reduced guest wait times and allowed Cineplex to redeploy staff. However, it required managers to have remote assistance to complete system configuration and fix any issues. Cineplex wanted to reduce managers’ reliance when it came to performing system configurations to improve efficiency.

Results

Infront created a solution that allowed the desktop support team to centrally manage and reimage Point of Sale (PoS) systems through a System Center 2012 Configuration Manager architecture. With this in place, Cineplex could deploy a PoS system image from head office to rebuild a broken system in-store, deploy applications as well as collect hardware and software centrally for quick reporting, monitor for PoS “system drift,” and offer antivirus protection system-wide. This allows managers to focus on ensuring Cineplex clients enjoy a positive movie experience.

“Cineplex saved thousands of dollars in courier charges and has improved the overall customer experience by keeping their PoS machines online and available to customers.”


Monitor and Manage Cloud Spending in Real Time

A growing regional specialty grocer in the Northeast United States knows that customer satisfaction, great service, brand selection and quality drive their business. So where does IT come into play? The more efficient, secure and innovative the grocer can be using IT, the better its competitive advantage. This grocer looked to Infront because it needed its IT solutions to be delivered on time and on budget, just as it needs its produce to be delivered.

The Challenge

This grocer has built an iconic brand and has more than 80 stores. Hundreds of servers in Azure are a part of the growing IT infrastructure that supports the business. The grocer was struggling with over 160 different subscriptions. They quickly recognized that the Azure cloud moves at a breakneck pace and most of their original assets were in need of a refresh. Multiple additional challenges ensued such as naming mismatches, sprawling admin users, a lack of process, and no guidelines for networking, resource groups, and the management of the overall solution.

Results

Infront worked with the customer to identify their requirements and proposed three phases to help the customer get to their desired end state:

Infront worked with the grocer’s IT team on the following elements:

Infront designed and implemented an innovative solution for the grocer’s IT operations team that provides automated, continuous deployment of a custom app that the customer was developing. Infront assisted the customer with the following tasks which reduced deployment time, testing and time to market, saving the grocer both time and money.


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