In this interview, I speak with integration specialist Jan Kooistra to discuss monitoring, the unique requirements of integration in the healthcare business, and Leonard Cohen.
What is your function and in what manner are you confronted with monitoring issues?
I am the Interface Team Coordinator (Cloverleaf & Epic Bridges) at ETZ Hospital in Tilburg. I am responsible for day to day operations and am in that manner confronted with (lack of) end-to-end insight in traffic (messaging jams, volume, delays).
At what point did you decide to start looking at monitoring software?
Jan jokes about this, by stating he decided on this a few years back when I started working at ETZ, as I am always talking about and pushing towards monitoring of business-critical processes. The search actually started a few years back due to a lack of anything, limited (propriety) capabilities etc.
In what ways are you using your monitoring solution at this point?
Monitoring at this point is fragmented / non-unified: OS monitoring with Linux tooling ‘glances’ etc., our primary application is monitored with Cloverleaf GM, the second most important application with Epic Bridges monitor and its dashboard. We have contracted an out-of-office support 3rd party, have some internal support and internal departments. It is extremely widespread at this point and messy to say the least.
What would you like to be added to a monitoring solution?
I’d prefer one, uniform solution, trend analysis, short/middle term predictions.
What would you say is the key value of having a monitoring solution within your organization?
It would be great to have a solution to monitor our entire environment with predictive capabilities, which would make monitoring less ad-hoc. We would then be able to monitor everything and predict troubles to come and would be able to prevent down-time or other incidents this way.
Can you share an example of a downtime incident that caused problems?
At one point, a database instance had a bug in it causing ‘race conditions’ and that was causing out-of-memory and traffic jam as it was unable to accept messages. From that point on, everything went down and we weren’t able to process anything anymore. There were several teams involved in solving the problem. We had a total of 6 people working on it for an entire day, so you can imagine costs were high.
It took the DB a couple of hours the reach the memory limit, then it took a couple of hours for the message server to run into trouble. This could easily have been prevented by having trend and rule based alerts in place.
Do you extract business intelligence / analytics from your IT systems in general, and integrations environment specifically?
We don’t but we should. There is not a lot of hospital compliant tooling available at this point, but I have read of a SNMP solution being developed Q1-2019.
In what scenario is monitoring most often used, first-line monitoring (functional) vs. second-line monitoring (technical)?
My need lies primarily with functional monitoring.
How do you see Azure and the current development towards the cloud? Is your company going to use these new technologies?
Since the health world is a separate kind of business, Azure is not in the picture as far as I’m aware.
How do you see the future of integration and how should monitoring solutions adapt to this?
I would like to quote Leonard Cohen as an answer to this question “I've seen the future, brother. It is murder.”
Supply chain, High-level functions (BPM) and ‘green’ buildings are some of the terms that come to mind when thinking about the future of integration. Adaption through further abstraction and open API’s would also be part of it.
The IT world is getting more complex, and IT managers need to cope. How do you see the demands on IT systems getting more complex, and how are you coping with this?
I am taking it as it comes. Again, hospitals are at another part of integration and modernization now, so we will just have to see where the future takes us and how I need to adapt to new technologies.
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