"I’ve used the competition…it can’t do what Dynatrace can do."
Shane Shelton, Senior Director of App Performance & Dev Operations
McGraw-Hill Education employs more than 6,000 people in 44 countries and publishes in more than 60 languages. After more than 100 years supporting learning around the world, the company is probably best known as a textbook publisher. However, these days, McGraw-Hill Education provides far more than actual books on paper. It leads the way in providing reliable, research-based digital content to guide assessment, teaching and learning for students, instructors and institutions.
"Last quarter, our higher education division made more money on digital revenue than textbooks," says Shane Shelton, Senior Director of Application Performance and Development Operations at McGraw-Hill Education. "We’re ushering in a new era at McGraw-Hill Education with a focus on rapid delivery of online materials to our global customers."
Shelton continues: "The platforms we depend on to deliver all of that content are very large and complex. They have a wide usage base—millions of users. Troubleshooting performance issues and bottlenecks as quickly as possible is extremely important to us. Quality of service is number one."
"Our market is extremely competitive. Customers have a low tolerance for any problems," he explains. "Just think if you were using a bank’s website but every time you logged on it had long delays and frequent errors. Most people would simply get a new bank. Our customers expect the same kind of service from a company like ours. We always have to perform."
To improve and maintain a near-perfect end-user experience, Shelton and his team transformed the way McGraw-Hill Education delivered its services and information.
"Our company is rapidly changing from a traditional publisher to a digital software company. To support this change we spun up the DevOps movement as a part of our conversion from paper to digital," says Shelton. "We’re mainly a Java shop, but we also use .NET and PHP."
The DevOps team makes sure they push the highest quality code into production as quickly as possible. They also lead release management where the automated build-and-deploy of software passes through a system development lifecycle (SDLC). Shelton says, "We do some work in the data center, but an increasing part of what we do takes place the cloud now."
"As we looked at our cloud strategy and direction for the future, I knew we needed a powerful APM," he says. "Some of our divisions didn’t have APM software when I started, and others used tools that simply couldn’t provide the speed or detail we needed to move forward."
"Without an APM many people on my team spent many hours looking at log files, pinning together infrastructure monitoring alerts and more," Shelton explains. "It took a lot of personnel time to figure out where an issue originated."
"To support this change we spun up the DevOps movement as a part of our conversion from paper to digital."
"Our applications are very complex and have many separate components. That makes it difficult to figure out the source of any problem. I knew that this is where Dynatrace shines," he says. "I had used Dynatrace at a previous employer for more than five years. No other APM product gives you the ability to address issues as quickly as Dynatrace does."
Now McGraw-Hill Education uses Dynatrace in its performance environments to validate the quality of software before it goes into production under performance or load testing. They use it in operations for alerting and dashboarding, and then, troubleshooting if anything happens in the production environment. "If we see slow traffic to any part of one of our websites, or if something breaks, Dynatrace is the first thing I check," says Shelton.
"When we first implemented Dynatrace, we saw immediate and impressive benefits."
Dynatrace provides the clarity and fast access to application performance information McGraw-Hill Education needs to maintain a flawless end-user experience now—and in the future.
"When we first implemented Dynatrace, we saw immediate and impressive benefits", says Shelton. "Our main higher education platform, "Connect," was experiencing some issues with a sub-system that used PHP. We initially had about 12 people looking at this for about six days. Once we loaded Dynatrace, we could drill into the PHP directly. In about 120 seconds we found a line of code that was the issue and resolved it. With Dynatrace we diagnosed and fixed the problem in five minutes."
Dynatrace provides McGraw-Hill Education the ongoing insight the company needs to continue to expand its digital presence through the cloud. "It gives us tremendous insight for our transition from the data center to the cloud," Shelton says. "Dynatrace clearly identifies the hot spots at the data center level so that we can address these differently in the cloud. This information shows us where to tweak performance just enough to support a much better experience for the end-user."