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Case Study: Segue's SilkPerformer Helps Turn Around ACS Healthcare's Computing System
Case Study: Segue's SilkPerformer Helps Turn Around ACS Healthcare's Computing System

ACS Healthcare (ACSH), part of Affiliated Computer Services, using Segue's testing tool, SilkPerformer, was able to isolate and fix a myriad of problems that had been plaguing its enterprise computing system.

The problems encountered by ACS were distributed throughout a variety of platforms and applications. Many of the glitches in the system were miniscule; however, the sheer number of these "small" quirks was creating an enterprise environment that could not satisfy contractual obligations to clients. As such, the company often times preferred paying the fines levied against them by customers, rather than attempting to fix a problem viewed as being too complex and intricate to risk tinkering with.

Larry Fortune, ACSH's performance manager, described the company's computing system as being, "Like a block of Swiss cheese with many very fine holes." He added, "You're never going to fill all the holes, but the only way you're going to know where they are so you can solve problems is with performance testing and monitoring."

ACSH's systems were intertwined iN such a convoluted manner that a $351 million contract Georgia Health Partnership had awarded them was in jeopardy. The partnership also included IBM, Computer Sciences, and other subcontractors.

ACSH began missing service-level agreements (SLAs) almost from the beginning. Moreover, it was woefully underprepared to handle the number of Medicaid claims submitted over the Web. Unable to meet all of its SLAs began costing the company $2,000 per week per transaction type (ACSH was responsible for five) for unmet agreements. "There were times I said just pay the penalties because of the difficulties of fixing all these glitches," Fortune said.

Illustrating the hodge-podge system, Fortune said, "There's IBM 3270 scripting for TCP/IP send-and-receive packets, on base software with jillions of OBDCs, COBRA calls, batch processing, Web apps, IVR and PowerBuilder. It's not easy to understanding what is going on and the data is old and dirty."

The system comprises a mainframe located off-site in Pittsburgh, PA, a Web portal, and five Windows servers for Web and interactive voice response. As the company began to use SilkPerformer, problems started surfacing, which then allowed for increased analysis leading to the discovery of more problems, until the system was able to meet its clients' goals.

SilkPerformer showed such startling performance gaps such as, runtimes for dual-processor machines that were slower than machines with one processor. In addition, Web servers were crashing upwards of 30% of the time.

ACSH's Fortune commented that Segue's application moved analysis away from monthly performance figures into real-time. ACSH attributes around $80 million in savings that resulted using Segue's SilkPerformer. The company was able to take a contract from EDS because its bid was $80 million less. The company said it was able to do so because their systems now run with greatly improved metrics, realized through performance management tools.

About ITSG News Desk
ITSG News Desk trawls the world's news sources for stories and updates on IT solutions that deliver ROI by reducing costs and/or cutting time-to-market, as well as other products and services that can produce bottom-line gains for enterprises.

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