Large Systems Have Small Windows for Maintenance

December 3, 2020  |  Andrew Dvirnyk

The larger the system, the smaller the window for maintenance. We see that with our clients in the banking, utilities, and logistics and transportation industries. These big systems are running (and relied upon) twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. As a result, the window for any kind of system maintenance is very small. At the same time, the need for a system that runs well (and doesn’t abandon important jobs) is essential.

Banking System Challenges

Take some of our bank clients as an example. With banks, we apply maintenance activities about 1 – 2 times per month. Think again of data flow, and the way that fixes on the code work in systems of this size. In the context of these systems, each application uses different products that work on mainframe. As such, each application must be watched and maintained. And above all, we need to work with the shared goal of swift, effective, sustainable issues resolution.

Even with this clear, well-articulated goal, and with the best talent on the job, problems in business applications do occur. What further complicates things is that these problems can happen in different areas of the application. Or they can happen on different application at the same time. When they do, you are dealing with a pressing need to resolve issues the right way. And fast.

Think about a scenario in which Accounts Receivable is working on mainframe and needs to deliver data to accounting applications, but a process is abandoned. What happens? More importantly, how quickly can you fix it? And how do you keep it from having the same negative effects again?

Remember, your client’s customers are trusting your client (in our case for this scenario, a major banking institution) with significant sums of their money!

How We Used Appulse to Get Our Banking Client System Back on Track

Not long ago, we had a critical quarter end job that was abandoned. Because of an incorrect product configuration, the fault analyzer messages then sent us in the wrong direction to solve the problem. As a result, we initially investigated the problem the wrong way.

This is where developers, businesses, and end users often end up suffering. If you are going about understanding the problem the wrong way from the start (usually because you do not have the right tools to access and analyze the problem  or information on the problem is limited), you are “starting out on the back foot.” You are losing time and money chasing the wrong solution because you are attacking the wrong problem.

After a few hours of investigation, our engineers determined that the initial investigation itself was wrong and found the right solution. Now, because of Appulse, our engineers are able to access solutions to this problem and similar problems that we may encounter.

So, even though the solution itself was fairly straightforward, that does not mean that identifying the problem, finding the solution, and deploying the solution automatically meant that the system would never encounter a similar problem again. That is part of why maintenance, vigilance, and smart approaches are so necessary for keeping systems running efficiently and effectively.

Solving Applications Problems Once Is Not Enough

In fact, even after we corrected the issue, we encountered a similar problem on the bank’s system the following quarter. But because we had resolved the issue the way we did, and because Appulse kept a complete and accurate record of the solution process, our engineers were able to resolve the situation almost immediately. No loss of time. No loss of service. No stress at all for our client or their customers.

How were we able to do this so well and so quickly? Because Appulse is smart. Thanks to the data we feed it, Appulse is able to learn. Appulse learns the lessons from one situation and, in turn, it makes those lessons available as a possible solution to future situations. Our engineers can access this treasure trove of solutions the next time that situation or a similar one presents itself. And they can do that whether they were on the solutions team for the first incident on not.

Perfecting Memory is Smart and Sustainable

Even on our best days, the best developers and engineers have imperfect memories. As humans, we simply are not able to store everything we need to know to solve every single problem we encounter on a system.

Sure, in the moment, after just having solved a complicated business application issue successfully, as a developer, you are sure those steps will always stay fresh in your mind. We all know that feeling. On the day we figure out the solution, we are convinced we will remember it forever. We’re ready to tell stories about how we saved the day!

Of course, after some time, especially if we have not encountered a similar situation, we start to forget the details about how we got from Point A to Point B. Once we begin to forget (and we all do, and will) even when we face a similar situation, we are not able to recall all of the most important details. That is, if we are able to recall any details at all.

Let’s face it, developers and engineers are busy. We encounter multiple complexities every day, across a variety of systems for a wide range of clients whose customers all have very specific needs and wants. So, as focused, efficient, and creative as we are in the moment, we cannot possibly retain every single step we ever took to resolve the many, unique challenges we encounter. Those memories get pushed out by the issues and resolutions we deal with in the next hour, day, month, or year.

As much as we do not want to admit it, the archives of our own memories are imperfect. But the archive of Appulse stores everything we need to know. Then it uses that stored knowledge to learn more and to make it easier to solve the next problem. And the next one after that.

How Would You Use a More Perfect Memory?

One of the things we appreciate most about Appulse is the way that it empowers our developers and engineers to deliver more, faster, for our clients and their customers. This is chiefly possible because of that smart memory bank fueled by Appulse’s unique ability to learn.

The way that Appulse learns – and then makes solutions available based on that learning – makes Appulse like another member of our team. And it’s a team member that never gets sick, never takes a vacation day, and never retires. It is always available and always on target.

The impact of this additional, super-reliable team member goes beyond the ways it gives our developers and engineers the power to create and deploy system solutions faster for our clients and their customers. It gives them more time to work on new, creative solutions and ideas that will bring even more value to our business and yours.

So, what would you do with a smarter memory, and some extra time?

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