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Software Analyzes PC Crashes

EdgeSight pieces together clues to computer failures
When investment firm Brown Brothers Harriman moved from its former headquarters at 59 Wall St. last year to a tower in lower Manhattan, it provided CIO Eric Berk and his 500-person IT staff with an opportunity to make some changes. Not only did they install new wiring and make other infrastructure improvements, but they decided it was time to figure out a new way to troubleshoot PCs.

"It's often hard to get a clear description of [a problem] from the user," he says. Berk wanted a software tool to capture diagnostic information that could be analyzed to identify the problem. He turned to EdgeSight, a performance-management product from Reflectent Software Inc. Scheduled to go into production at Brown Brothers Harriman shortly, EdgeSight lets IT support technicians determine what applications are running and how they may be interacting to degrade system performance. "It's something we've never been able to see before in this detail," Berk says.

Working in the background on each device, EdgeSight collects and analyzes statistics on errors and crashes; CPU, memory, and hard-drive utilization; network performance; and other issues. That kind of information is crucial to support trading operations. Foreign-exchange traders are especially prone to system failures because they often switch between different online currency exchanges.

When Berk's department test-crashed several PCs against EdgeSight, it found that the product added a degree of precision to network-monitoring capabilities, helping prevent misdiagnoses, such as mistaking a desktop application problem for a network problem. Berk says EdgeSight is also useful for calculating usage patterns required by software-licensing agreements.