Ranger4 DevOps Blog

Serving Up Application and Infrastructure Visibility For Kraft Foods

Posted by Steve Green on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 @ 16:07 pm

Kraft Foods is a powerhouse food and beverage company that is home to some of the world’s iconic brands including Planters, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Kool-Aid, Oscar Mayer, Cracker Barrel, Maxwell House, Jell-O, and of course, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. The company boasts annual sales of $18+ billion, and its brands are found in 98% of North American households. Kraft’s flagship consumer website, KraftRecipes.com, attracts 40,967,289 during their peak months, and during the holiday season, their typical visitor tally jumps by 30 to 40 percent. High availability and performance are top priorities, especially during peak holiday seasons.

Key Benefits:

  • Unprecedented visibility into root causes of slowdowns and outages
  • A "single source of truth" in a multi-vendor environment
  • Rapid problem resolution

Why AppDynamics:

  • Extreme speed of deployment
  • Visibility into complex, distributed application environments
  • Virtual War Room enhances collaboration and speeds troubleshooting

Challenge: How many people are coming for dinner?

Anytime a website gets a major overhaul, whether it’s a technology migration or a complete redesign, issues are going to pop up. It’s inevitable when such a large amount of code and so many interdependencies are in play. So when the Canadian Kraft recipes site was being rebuilt during Q3-Q4 of 2013, the team knew there would be at least one big issue that would need to be solved. The new site was incapable of handling the amount of traffic Kraft projected post-launch. And the busy holiday season was coming up fast.

The website team included several vendors, which definitely complicated matters. Fortunately, one of those vendors was already using AppDynamics to monitor load and performance tests, and recommended that Kraft reach out to AppDynamics. By now it was Friday, December 13th, and all the players were sitting around the same table. And that’s where they spent the rest of the weekend.

AppDynamics quickly deployed its agents, which automatically mapped Kraft’s infrastructure and applications. Soon, AppDynamics was capturing business transactions, which quickly began to identify core issues with code, stored procedures (database queries), and bottlenecks within the infrastructure. By Sunday night, after an entire weekend of performance and load testing, it was obvious that despite fixing numerous code defects and improving website configurations, the site could not handle the 2,600 business transactions per second, which was one of Kraft’s targeted KPIs.

“There was no way we could refute the results AppDynamics brought to the table,” said Shawn Griffin, Kraft’s technical project manager, Information Systems. “It put an end to the finger-pointing. AppDynamics easily drew out where the problem areas were top-to-bottom, both from a code perspective and an infrastructure perspective. Without AppDynamics, we would not have been able to identify the critical issues and get them fixed, and meet the site launch deadline.”

Beyond helping to solve the immediate issues, AppDynamics identified for Kraft issues that needed to be addressed from an infrastructure perspective to ensure scalability and future growth of the platform, as well as a need to provide better governance over introducing new code provided by partners. AppDynamics demonstrated such superior value that Kraft signed them in 2014 as their number one application support partner, displacing SolarWinds and Keynote.

“The three products we’re leveraging from AppDynamics are .NET modules, the DB module, and the end-user monitoring tool,” Griffin says. “These three tools enable us to do what these other two server monitoring tools, SolarWinds and Keynote, could do, but better. What AppDynamics can do, those two cannot do real-time.”

Benefits: "Exceptional visibility into every corner of the application environment"

Griffin’s concluding statement points out the overarching benefit that AppDynamics was able to bring to Kraft: Exceptional visibility into every corner of the application environment. It enables Kraft to see when its vendors need to step up. It helps Kraft to identify architectural issues that impact overall performance. It takes away any ambiguity about root cause and what fix is needed.

AppDynamics .NET, database, and end-user monitoring agents give the Kraft teams exceptional visibility and accelerated troubleshooting every day, all year long. Since the incidents described above, AppDynamics has rolled out its Virtual War Room functionality, which supports Kraft’s multi-vendor structure, enabling efficient, real-time collaboration among the various players on the team. Everyone on the team can chat, make system changes in real time, and view and annotate events on second-interval charts, enabling everyone to collaborate in a view that unites their troubleshooting efforts and provides common context and common data to all.

“Kraft now uses AppDynamics in each and every one of our load tests. It is part of our strategy from a support standpoint,” Griffin says. “We have a strategy with continuous integration, and AppDynamics enables us to capture, in real time, how changes in the environment, or new sites being introduced to the environment, are affecting the entire ecosystem.”

Topics: APM, Appdynamics, Case Story