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Ministop Korea (CEO, Shim, Kwansup, www.ministop.co.kr) is a subsidiary of Ministop Co., one of Japan’s largest convenience store chains. Since opening its first store in Mokdong in November 1990, Ministop Korea has grown to operate more than 2,500 stores nationwide. The Ministop stores feature a café-like kitchen that prepares fresh and delicious snacks including soft ice cream, coffee, fried chicken, and bento boxes on-demand.

IN BRIEF

Challenges

  • Improve visibility across various IT systems, network, and applications to pinpoint root causes of performance issues and data loss
  • Reduce disputes among IT teams and external vendors regarding the source of network and application issues
  • Reduce disputes among IT teams and external vendors regarding the source of network and application issues

Solution

  • Riverbed SteelCentral for end-to-end visibility across applications, network and infrastructure and a holistic view of end users’ digital experience,including the following modules:
    • AppResponse, for network-based application performance management and user experience monitoring
    • AppInternals, for application monitoring and analytics to improve performance, user experience and business impact
    • NetSensor, for visibility into how infrastructure is affecting network and application performance
    • Portal, a single source of truth for digital experience management, accelerating troubleshooting, and providing meaningful data for stakeholders

Benefits

  • End-to-end visibility helps team proactively identify and troubleshoot performance issues, preventing future system failures and optimizing IT operations
  • Clear root cause analysis of network failure eliminates finger-pointing among teams and improves collaboration
  • Elimination of outages costing millions of Won/hour
  • Identification of the cause of an ERP slowdown helped keep migration project on schedule

Ministop Korea, which runs more than 2,500 convenience stores, was previously vulnerable to losses of up to ₩200 million/hour (USD 17,600/hour) from sudden network failures. Without an effective end-to-end monitoring tool, it required as many as 10,000 clicks across all systems to pinpoint the causes of network problems. It was also difficult to determine whether the responsibility for the resolution fell to internal or external groups.

In an effort to end this ongoing problem, Ministop decided to include an integrated performance management system as part of its five-year IT system upgrade. By deploying Riverbed® SteelCentral™, Ministop has been able to prevent network and application problems from recurring thanks to precise root cause analysis as well as the ability to proactively identify and prevent failures. In addition, SteelCentral has helped the organization avoid losses of millions of Won, and to identify problems during the process of a web-based ERP system migration that would have jeopardized the project timeline.

Challenge: Inability to determine the root cause of performance issues puts bottom line at risk

Ministop’s business, which operates 365 days/year, 24 hours/day, relies heavily on its network to keep its stores up and running. Even a relatively brief network outage can cause of huge damages to the business. For example, a three-hour downtime can result in losses of up to ₩600 million to ₩700 million.

Because the company’s IT infrastructure involves multiple vendors, it was previously very difficult for the IT team to identify the causes of network outages. It was often said that an administrator had to click more than 10,000 times across all systems before finding out the real cause of a problem. It was also difficult to determine whose responsibility it was to resolve the issue, causing Ministop to incur high forensic costs and waste considerable time in that effort.

With a clear need for a complete network monitoring and analysis solution, company management decided to include this as part of its next IT system upgrade, which also encompassed the replacement of outdated hardware and software and a migration to a web-based ERP system.

Solution: Integrated SteelCentral solutions, optimized for proactive failure management and performance management

Ministop evaluated several performance management solutions, focusing on integrated, end-to-end visibility into applications, the network, and the overall infrastructure. The company chose Riverbed SteelCentral for a proof-of-concept (PoC), and was happy to see that it earned high scores in proactive failure management and root-cause identification.

SteelCentral is structured in modules, scalable from a single element to completely integrated end-to-end performance view. Ministop deployed a number of SteelCentral modules, including AppResponse, AppInternals, NetSensor, and Portal. This configuration greatly expanded network visibility. It also gave the company application monitoring down to the transaction level, as well as complete performance monitoring of the infrastructure.

“SteelCentral afforded us performance diagnostics and analytics for network, applications, SQL, and various devices so that now we can troubleshoot quickly with proactive alert and root cause analysis capabilities,” says Kim, Naehyung, team leader, HQ systems at Ministop. “Moreover, the solution has resolved the responsibility issue by means of data sharing with multiple vendors, ultimately ensuring system reliability.”

Another SteelCentral module, Aternity, was evaluated during the SteelCentral PoC and turned out to provide information that was crucial for the success of the ERP migration. Aternity monitors the end-user experience from the point of view of their devices. Ministop developers used Aternity to understand why the end-user experience had degraded, and this insight allowed them to fix the problem prior to the roll out. Aternity revealed some coding errors that had occurred during development. Addressing those errors effectively fixed potential performance and security issues in advance. In addition, diverse IT service management issues were also corrected by monitoring the business-critical application environment for PCs and mobile devices.

“It was SteelCentral that discovered the ERP system errors in the course of the project,” says Kim. “Without the discovery, the project would have not been completed on time and the official system opening would have been seriously delayed.”

Benefit: Cause-finding and effective failure prevention

Since the introduction of SteelCentral, Ministop discovered problems caused by some of the unproven solutions that are in use. It has now fixed more than 90% of them. A clear benefit that Ministop has enjoyed with Riverbed SteelCentral is the ability to detect problems in advance, rather than responding to them after the fact. The time saved here has helped optimize IT operations.

Another advantage of SteelCentral is complete performance analysis of the network, applications, SQL, and various devices, which has made root cause analysis possible. Ministop has also realized that it can share network analysis data with its vendors, eliminating the inefficiencies that were previously caused by responsibility disputes among them, and ultimately ensuring system reliability.

“Most enterprises spend a lot of resources on the maintenance of their systems, network, and applications. This places a heavy burden on IT to look for ways to reduce costs and optimize the infrastructure,” concludes Kim. “A complete performance management platform like Riverbed SteelCentral is an option to consider as it helps identify the causes of problems and prevent failures proactively. IT administrators should move more proactively for efficient IT management and operation, enabled by end-to-end visibility for complete monitoring.”

It was SteelCentral that discovered the ERP system errors in the course of the project” … Without the discovery, the project would have not been completed on time and the official system opening would have been seriously delayed.
Naehyung Kim
Team Leader, HQ Systems at Ministop
Ministop Korea, Co. Ltd.

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