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AIG Private Client Group Diagnoses SOA Glitches With BMC Solution

The extensive interdependencies formed by service-oriented architectures (SOA) can prove a double-edged sword: The resulting dynamics drive up performance but also make glitches difficult to locate. Such was the challenge for ultra-high net worth insurer AIG Private Client Group, a division of New York-based American International Group (AIG; $1.06 trillion in total assets). "It could take a couple of hours for our help desk to reproduce an issue from a user's description of events," recalls Karl Uphoff, CIO and SVP. "But it wasn't burdensome until we started planning to extend our Web-based policy platform externally to brokers. Then we realized we needed a better way."

Late in 2003 the solution hunt began. "We wanted to track activities on knowledge workers' desktops and create event logs transparently, in the background, whether the users were internal or external," Uphoff explains. "But everything we found was targeted at development troubleshooting, with the exception of some emerging companies that we disqualified as too young."

Eventually, in 2005, Uphoff investigated the AppSight Problem Resolution System from BMC Software (Houston) by leveraging contacts at a former employer. "They were using the BMC product, but not as extensively as we envisioned," notes Uphoff. "So we brought in BMC and discovered AppSight offered traceability from [Redmond, Wash-based Microsoft] Windows and Java at the front end, all the way through back-end servers and dropping off into the COBOL path."

By early 2006 the AppSight implementation within the policy platform was underway. "A Windows-enabled server was acquired and deployed for the application, with recording agents loaded onto each supported application server," Uphoff says. Once AppSight was incorporated into the next release build and load tested, it was rolled out to all 450 internal users across three geographically dispersed U.S. locations, he reports.

"We included about a page of documentation on the new error reporting process," Uphoff says. "In short, a popup window appears that provides users with directions to follow. Then the information is automatically e-mailed to tech support."

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