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CIO turns to data analytics to hunt down VDI ghost

Thor Olavsrud | May 30, 2014
When Seattle Children's Hospital inexplicably found login times for its virtual desktops reaching as much as 15 minutes on some mornings, it turned to wire data analytics to track down the elusive cause of the problem.

"The hit was the system spinning up the pictures when he logged on," Wright says. "It backed things up for a good 10 to 20 minutes."

Suddenly, the IT organization had cross-tier visibility to put troubleshooting issues in context. They restricted use of the My Pictures folder and made other optimizations that earned them the goodwill of their users.

"I've never seen anything comparable to ExtraHop," says Senior Systems Infrastructure Team Engineer Bruce Fulton. "It's our way to see how a transaction flows from start to finish through these various applications. We simply couldn't get that end-to-end perspective with any of our previous technologies."

While Wright admits that the ExtraHop platform is pricey — it was no mean feat to wedge it into his budget cycle — he says he wouldn't think of working without it.

"I do a lot of speaking on our virtual desktop story," he says. "Every time I talk about it, I tell people that if you're going to deploy virtual desktop, you've got to deploy it with ExtraHop or something like it, but I haven't found anything else like it out there. It saves you the pain of these ghosts in the machine."

Wire Data Analytics Helps Developers, Too
"Think outside the box on this one," he adds. "It's not just a monitoring tool for your technology folks. Get your application folks — your developers and SMEs — get them involved in the training. They'll appreciate seeing the performance of their applications from end user to database and they'll help with the monitoring. They want those applications to run better, faster, stronger than anybody else does."

Holt adds that taking that message to heart has helped Seattle Children's Hospital's IT staff really understand how its complex applications work.

"Before, I would ask people, can you map out what's really happening here — for example, with logging in to a Cerner application — and almost no one could map that end-to-end," Holt says. "Now with ExtraHop, we have at least 15 staff who can map that out in a heartbeat, and that number is growing."


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