“Dynatrace exceeded our expectations by working really well even when the capacity was overloaded, without slowing down the production system.”
Company: MTV Media
MTV Media is one of the largest electronic media companies in Finland. It operates national free-to-air television channels MTV3, Sub and AVA (an online media venture), mtv3.fi (a web TV platform), KATSOMO.fi; more than a dozen subscription TV channels; and the country’s largest nationwide commercial radio station, Radio Nova.
MTV Media has been online with mtv3.fi since 1995. With an average of two million weekly visitors, mtv3.fi is one of the most prominent Finnish online news services. Through organic growth and a series of acquisitions, the mtv3.fi site has evolved to include a multitude of services and platforms including free real estate classifieds, online games, email, online dating, and a web shop for digital content.
One of the fastest growing areas of MTV’s online portfolio is the web TV platform, KATSOMO.fi. Offering an archive of on-demand TV programs, live pay-per-view sports and online subscription TV content, KATSOMO puts out over 10 million video starts and one petabyte of data per month.
The biggest challenge for KATSOMO lies in the proper scaling of performance for very intense peaks of demand, especially during live pay-per-view events. To produce a smooth user experience, the system must negotiate through the maze of logging in, accepting the payment and delivering content as fast as possible for tens of thousands of simultaneous users.
A trial by fire for KATSOMO was the 2012 Ice Hockey World Championships in Helsinki. A signature live event for MTV, it was by far the biggest-ever web TV showcase for KATSOMO. In order to ensure a smooth experience, MTV needed a real-time monitoring solution for all the various parts of the complex environment. This was necessary for the web team to respond proactively to anomalies and trending peak demand.
MTV Media employs 24/7 monitoring for all its web services, including monitoring by system vendors, hosting and service desk partners, and an in-house monitoring solution. Dynatrace was implemented to provide MTV with its own data for evaluating the SLAs agreed to with the partner network.
MTV chose Dynatrace for efficient performance monitoring and pinning down trending technical issues. It was first implemented in KATSOMO for the Ice Hockey World Championships’ war room, where it was used to create visualizations of the situation as well as to keep track of potential problems in performance and availability.
“The project was a tough test. Dynatrace exceeded our expectations by working really well even when the capacity was overloaded, without slowing down the production system. The environment for the World Championships operated mostly on the very edge of its ability and Dynatrace was a valuable tool for keeping an eye on all the possible bottleneck situations system-wide,” says Kimmo Sinkko, head of interactive IT for MTV Media.
“During the World Championships there was an amateurish attempt to hack into KATSOMO, just to see an important match for free, which disturbed the whole application delivery chain at the worst possible moment. We used Dynatrace in real time to find out what was going on, and later on to dig up valuable data of what exactly happened. We didn’t plan for Dynatrace to help in a crisis like this, but it turned out to be an asset,” Sinkko continues.
Dynatrace includes free clients for viewing the data produced by the solutions. For MTV, this has provided additional value. Being able to share the exact same data with developers, vendors and other partners has streamlined work when analyzing issues, testing and developing.
The biggest gain for MTV Media has been the overall improvement in visibility and operability of KATSOMO’s daily administration. Both solutions have proven to be handy assets in sampling errors in service and availability.
“The data provided by Dynatrace is something we could have picked up going through our logs, but in reality we don’t have the time to do that. Neat and quick visualizations make it possible to be proactive and fix issues before they escalate. It’s also great to have our own information on what goes on in third-party black boxes throughout the application delivery chain—this really comes in handy when negotiating SLAs or performance issues with the vendors,” says Sinkko.
In the future, MTV Media is planning to integrate Dynatrace into more of its web services. The main purpose would be to monitor real-time situational data with one Dynatrace dashboard on all web services, including those not currently on Java or .NET platforms.
MTV is planning to take full use of Dynatrace features to implement more systematic load testing. Dynatrace would also be useful for collecting data not only for systems management but also for business intelligence purposes.