With its new IT operations analytics solution, VSE Corporation can quickly investigate data-related incidents and verify information for audit purposes.
By William Atkinson
VSE Corporation provides diversified engineering, development, testing and management services to U.S. government agencies and other prime contractors. As might be expected, IT plays an integral role in the organization. However, IT recently found itself confronted by a number of key operational challenges.
One challenge is that IT is required to investigate all data-related incidents and identify root causes, which can be a very time-consuming and labor-intensive process.
In addition, VSE Corporation moved its offices and built a new, fully virtualized data center last year. As the servers were virtualized and copied to the new data center, IT needed to be able to verify that all of the servers deployed accurately and consistently, and that no data was lost during the transition.
Third, the Alexandria, Va.-based company also needed something to validate, verify and manage all of its servers for audit purposes. "As a publicly owned company, we are covered by SOX and FISMA [Federal Information Security Management Act]," says Dave Chivers, vice president and CIO. "We had to be able to prove that nothing did change on our servers. When we get audited, we are asked what updates we did in the last six months or year. I could explain that we had to put some hot fixes and patches on some servers. However, in situations where we hadn't done any updates, the auditors would ask for proof that we hadn't done any."
These three challenges forced Chivers to find a solution that could provide all of this information. VSE ultimately selected Evolven’s IT Operations Analytics. "As we looked at all of the applications out there that could monitor and control everything that is going on in any of our platforms, we found that Evolven could do all of this," he says. "In addition, it took just minutes for us to learn the basic functionalities of it. There were no special training requirements, and it is very easy to use. We were able to roll it out in a day. It wasn't the least expensive, but it was certainly fairly priced."
Another aspect Chivers likes about Evolven’s IT Operations Analytics is that it has a number of additional features, such as analytical capabilities, which he wants to use in the future. "Evolven is currently helping us to learn these," he says. "There is some training involved in learning how some of these features work."
The Evolven solution has been working well. In terms of the data center transition, IT Operations Analytics allows the IT team to compare servers and business service environments, identify and report inconsistencies and critical differences, simultaneously compare multiple environments, and analyze inconsistencies to identify the ones that can create significant issues. In terms of reducing incident investigation time, when an incident occurs, Evolven can quickly identify the configuration changes and differences that are at the incident’s root cause. The IT team can detect what has changed to trigger an incident, and also analyze differences between working and non-working environments. Previously, it would take the IT team weeks to investigate and resolve an incident. It can now complete this work in minutes. Third, Evolven’s IT Operations Analytics also helps VSE stay in compliance with SOX and FISMA.
"It has been working well and doing exactly what we need it to do," says Chivers. In fact, Evolven's capability to respond to a request during one validation audit was particularly valuable to VSE. The auditors had asked VSE to validate that it had not changed a specific file. With IT Operations Analytics, IT was able to provide an answer within minutes. "Being able to do this,” says Chivers, “turned out to be a huge return on our investment in Evolven."
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