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Airline monitors networks to improve customer service

Virgin America brings Nimsoft Monitoring Solution on board to improve network, system, application and Web site performance.

Network/Systems Management Alert By Denise Dubie, Network World
May 05, 2010 07:30 AM ET
Denise Dubie
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For Ravi Simhambhatla even 99.9% uptime leaves too much to chance when it comes to customer satisfaction. The CIO of California-based airline Virgin America wanted to equip the IT team to be able to predict potential failures, rather than simply react.

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"Last year, we had 99.9% uptime. We would like to know well in advance what the .01% was. All of our money goes into the aircraft and we are trying to save as much capital as we could for things that mattered to our guests,” Simhambhatla says. “But we need to move to enterprise-class monitoring software. We didn’t want to skim on this.”

Virgin America began in 2009 a proof of concept stage with IT management software maker Nimsoft, recently acquired by CA, and is now in the process of setting up monitoring of 10 airports, which includes network devices such as switches and firewalls as well as servers. The airline also wants to put Nimsoft to work in its headquarters monitoring production applications as well as the customer-facing Web site.

“VirginAmerica.com is hosted in our data center and my team is responsible for the site, which has 75% of the sales going through that channel. We want to monitor JVMs to ensure we understand memory constraints,” he explains. “Nimsoft will help us to show some interesting and accurate dashboards to other executives to really show how IT is doing and where the company’s investments are being put to work.”

Simhambhatla declined to comment on the monitoring product Nimsoft is in the process of replacing at Virgin America, but explains the previous tool reported problems after “something already broke,” which in the airline business is too late. It also “threw up phantom alerts, making it completely untrustworthy. Some of that was due to poor configuration on our part and some was due to poor product design,” he says.

As for measuring the return on investment of replacing the current product in place with Nimsoft Monitoring Solution, Simhambhatla says the company will be closely watching its guests.

“The ROI will be measured less in monetary terms and more in guest satisfaction. People who fly with us get impacted one way or another if our systems aren't performing as expected,” he says. “The ROI for me is very simple. We want to be completely transparent to our end users and Virgin America wants to the put the best technology out there for customers. That’s my ROI.”

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Read more about infrastructure management in Network World's Infrastructure Management section.

Schultz is a longtime IT journalist. You can email her or find her here.

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