Case Study: PM Ora solution helps Amex avert forex losses

American Express (Amex) Foreign Exchange South Africa has implemented a solution to help maintain the flow of business-critical information between its local head office and Amex branches countrywide.

A problem had previously surfaced associated with the abnormal termination of automatically generated data streams managed by the organization's Microsoft messaging queue service (MMQS).

Amex Foreign Exchange relies on this technology to update critical data, including foreign exchange rates, rates synchronization and market positioning, at Amex branches.

The organization implemented PM Ora's Enterprise Gauge, a monitoring and administration suite of software tools, to ensure that immediate action is taken if MMQS messages do not reach every Amex branch.

"There was a significant need for our ICT department to be notified as soon as a problem associated with message transmission service became apparent," says Jose Rodrigues, ICT manager at Amex Foreign Exchange. "It is important for Amex to keep its back office and front office systems synchronized. This is business-critical, as dealers would otherwise be unable to take a correct position on an exchange rate."

The Amex unit, which operates 30 servers supported by a small team of ICT staff, also needed a tool to help it better administer and manage systems and address computer performance problems.

"One of the burning issues that needed to be addressed was to move from a reactive to proactive ICT administration environment," he says. "We needed a tool that would help us achieve this goal by diagnosing systems performance and alerting us to potential problems so that we can carry out preventative maintenance, plan for additional capacity and provide the right service levels to the business."

Rodrigues says the system's built-in, customized reporting functionality helps managers to identify problems and narrow down their causes - as well as provide data on which to base capacity planning.

"Incident alerts are currently generated automatically by Enterprise Gauge and sent to administrators via e-mail, although it is planned to augment this by implementing the system's SMS alert capabilities," he notes.

By ensuring exchange rate synchronization, the optimization of staff skills, better capacity planning and systems performance, Amex is expecting a rapid return on its investment in Enterprise Gauge.

"We see ROI as one of the most positive aspects of the implementation," stresses Rodrigues.

Amex runs a Microsoft-based, thin client environment, with core technologies comprising IP, Citrix and Microsoft including MS Message Queuing and ISS.

"Amex is our first all-Microsoft site," says Cornel van Lingen, product specialist at PM Ora Software. "Enterprise Gauge has been installed at many large sites, monitoring as many as 240 servers and 600 databases, but these have been in either Unix-only or mixed Unix and Microsoft environments."

Amex spent nearly seven months evaluating different solutions with a proof of concept showing that Enterprise Gauge could meet its business needs as well as be scalable and flexible enough to meet future requirements.

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