It’s a name that’s heard every day as one of the key indicators of economic activity: The “Nasdaq” is either up or down, tracking the fortunes of growing enterprises and the investors who fund them and hope to prosper with them. Nasdaq is the single largest U.S. stock exchange by volume. That’s how most people know it. But there’s a lot more to Nasdaq than the exchange whose numbers are reported on the nightly business report

Nasdaq software technology powers over 70 marketplaces, regulators, central securities depositories, and clearing houses in over 50 countries. Companies listed on the exchange and those who aren’t, including private companies, use Nasdaq’s suite of solutions for investor relations, public relations, and corporate governance, as well as its specialized tools and platforms. From every perspective, Nasdaq is a software-driven business.

Challenges: Slow, Cumbersome Log Analytics, Home-Built Tools

Nasdaq’s Corporate Solutions Technology group manages a sizable portfolio of applications used by companies on and off its exchange, as well as its private markets technology and its corporate web properties. Such a multitude of software created over time, plus new innovations Nasdaq is continuously introducing, results in a diverse and complex ecosystem of technologies and infrastructure. Understanding the application environment holistically is a challenge, and pinpointing issues impacting performance and availability can be difficult given the level of interconnectivity and breadth of the platforms.

Traditionally, Nasdaq has monitored and managed its applications using a variety of somewhat disparate monitoring, alerting and log aggregation tools. This broad ecosystem creates inefficiencies in tracing a problem to their root cause.

“It’s the classic challenge of having to piece together monitoring and logging data across separate systems, tools, and layers in the architecture, and even if the data is there, in many cases it is difficult to directly connect the chain of events and cause and effect,” says Heather Abbott, Senior Vice President of Corporate Solutions Technology. “It can be hard, if not impossible, to put the puzzle together. There’s frustration, especially at the management level, since we are held accountable for application stability, performance, and the ability to get to root causes and resolution quickly.”

Doing the analysis could take lots of person-hours, sidetracking development and operations team members from more important projects, according to Eric Poon, Director of Operations Analytics. “ enables an innovative approach to how we monitor a modern application stack. Using allows us to harvest the valuable business data that only application metrics could provide,” says Poon.

Solution: Powerful Out-of-the-Box Functionality Delivers Results in Less Than an Hour

When Nasdaq decided to go outside for an application performance management (APM) solution, it was looking for something that offered high value right out of the box. The team scrutinized how the solution was architected to gather data, and what kind of usability and traceability it offered right out of the box.

“It can be gathering all this great data, but if it can’t trace transactions (that may be failing) through the system to the potential issue, then it’s probably not going to be too heavily used,” Abbott says. “At least not widely across all our constituents from engineering to operations, QA business stakeholders, and management.”
After looking at several of the leading APM solutions, quickly rose to the top. The Application Intelligence Platform immediately demonstrated its ability to deliver value right out of the box.

“It worked as it was advertised and it worked very easily,” Poon says. “It was simple to deploy. It took minutes, literally. On our first proof-of-concept, we saw results within an hour.”

Comparing it to the other tools in the market, Poon says, “It really stood very well within a DevOps model, in this day and age where there is a lot of complexity within a given application architecture. The flow map that came out of the box just really sold the product during the POC. By seeing how an application interacts with the different components inside or outside of the environment helps our new application development, and it helps in working with legacy code that a developer may not be the original designer for.”

Today, the platform gives Nasdaq visibility across its highly complex and extended application environment, both locally in its data centers and in the cloud, predominantly for Java and .NET applications. Nasdaq uses the platform to see and understand application health, to quickly trace transactions and diagnose issues, and to provide performance insights in pre-production scenarios.

Benefits: Speed, Visibility, and a Compelling Roadmap

Visibility and rapid time to resolution are the primary benefits brings to Nasdaq, along with the potential to access a whole new level of actionable data. Teams have been freed from the onerous task of scouring logs to pinpoint issues, and time to resolution has been dramatically slashed — from hours or days, down to minutes. The platform quickly points to the offending issues, whether in the code, with remote services, or a database.

Abbott cites “the ability to trace a transaction visually and intuitively through the interface” as a major benefit that delivers. That visibility was especially valuable when Nasdaq was migrating a platform from its internal infrastructure to Amazon.

“We used extensively to understand how the platform was functioning on Amazon,” Abbott said. “Measuring its performance and understanding how the system was behaving on a completely new infrastructure platform.”

The team and users at Nasdaq speak highly of the platform. Poon reports that the developers who were involved in the proof-of-concept said, “flat out, it’s one of the best tools we’ve deployed here to maximize our application performance.” Abbott says, “It’s a tool that offers seamless traceability and a view that bridge both the APM and the Business product usage effectively.”
Going forward, Nasdaq sees strong alignment between the direction is going and the direction Nasdaq wants its technology to go.

“We continue to work with innovative companies such as to support the Business and leverage Devops, Poon Says.

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