• United States
Senior Editor

State of Louisiana gets dynamic with FineGround

Apr 08, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Louisiana uses FineGround Networks appliances to make Web site dynamic

Rizwan Ahmed wanted to upgrade the State of Louisiana’s benefits Web site to support more interactive and dynamic content, but he couldn’t guarantee speed, performance and reliability with the systems it had.

“We migrated our Web infrastructure from a completely legacy system to a completely Web-based system,” Ahmed says. “We knew caching products worked best with static content, and that’s exactly what we were moving away from.”

The CIO says the state’s employees rely on the Web site to get personal information about benefits and healthcare. About 240,000 subscribers, 30,000 physicians and 13,000 provider facilities log on to the site to understand their healthcare benefits and options.

According to Ahmed, the state bases its health care Web site on a private business model; based on that model, the state represents a $1 billion company. In the past, the Web site simply delivered static content, but Ahmed realized the site needed to deliver more than text-based pages.

“We were looking for a product that would help us display the page transmission in a very condensed way,” Ahmed says. “I didn’t want to have to use the whole pipe to send out the GUI to our users.”

After looking for a product about a year ago, Ahmed decided to work with FineGround Networks and its Condenser application optimization software delivered on two Velocity appliances. The Velocity appliance can be installed at the edge of a data center in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) off of a standard load balancer. The data monitored and collected by the appliance is delivered back to the Web infrastructure or to end users.

FineGround provides a Web interface as part of the management console, which can run on the appliance or be installed on a server as a separate software application. The data collected is stored in a local database on the appliance and can be extracted or output through Crystal reports.

So far, Ahmed reports a 57% performance improvement since deploying the two boxes. Ahmed didn’t discuss financial details, but the Velocity appliance is priced to be equivalent to the software on a CPU basis. Pricing for Velocity loaded with Condenser costs $50,000 per CPU.

Though he hasn’t done an official ROI study, Ahmed says that staff hours have been saved, customer service calls have decreased and mean time to problem resolution is reduced. And while FineGround provides a Web interface, Ahmed says his staff doesn’t need to use it often.

“Really the box sits there and we don’t look at it unless there is a problem,” he says.

Yet getting the software and appliances up and running took a bit of effort. As Ahmed says it wasn’t all “hunky-dory” to start. He explains that the state agency had some issues around particular homegrown applications, which “had funny handshakes” and needed to be more closely addressed.

“We knew that introducing this product could have very well meant introducing a single point of failure. It essentially was going to be the gatekeeper,” he says. “We made sure that FineGround and the products had a way to keep things performing if the hardware failed.”

Now he says there are provisions in place that if an appliance fails, the state agency can get another one up and running within 30 minutes, without affecting its many end users.