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Why New Relic

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that can be deployed quickly with immediate vision into key metrics

Highlights
  • Deployed in 15 minutes, offering critical insight within the first hour of use
  • Enabled cross-application tracing for clear, nuanced visibility into service-oriented architecture
  • Helped drop average response time in portal from 6.71 seconds to 2.93 seconds

MultiPlan Sees 56% Reduction in Average Response Time with Help from New Relic

Founded in 1980, MultiPlan provides comprehensive cost management solutions to the healthcare industry. The company works with nearly 900,000 providers to serve 67 million consumers across the United States.

Challenges

MultiPlan just keeps growing. In 2002, the company processed approximately one million claims through its innovative pricing platform. Eleven years later — thanks to a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisitions — MultiPlan handles as many as 140 million claims annually.

“Not only are we experiencing dramatic growth, but we’re running an extraordinarily complex environment,” says Mike Milo, Director of Architecture at MultiPlan. “We rely on almost 400 different software applications and almost 100 web services to drive our business. With a complex system like that, we can’t operate on hunches alone.” The tipping point came in 2011, when Milo and his team began to encounter performance issues with the web services they were running in Cape Clear, an enterprise service bus.

“At the time, most of our applications were using Cape Clear to do critical work,” he says. “We had very little visibility into the performance of key components across that environment. Customers often discovered issues before we did — and as far as I’m concerned, that’s just not acceptable. End-users should never be your first line of defense.”

“One of the most valuable things about New Relic is that it enables cross-application tracing. In a complex environment like ours, a seemingly trivial issue might bubble up and affect the user experience in an unexpectedly significant way. New Relic gives us a holistic view of those dependencies so that we can understand exactly where issues are emerging.”

Mike Milo Director of Architecture, MultiPlan

Solution

Prior to New Relic, MultiPlan relied on a patchwork of monitoring technologies, many of them on-premise solutions requiring thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours just to configure and install. “We stumbled upon New Relic, and figured we should give it a try,” says David Gale, Technical Architect at MultiPlan. “To everyone’s surprise, we had New Relic up and running in 15 minutes. A few minutes later, we were able to identify the root cause of a database issue that had been eluding us for months.”

At first, the MultiPlan team deployed New Relic surgically, using a handful of licenses to focus on a few servers at a time. But then an unexpected weekend outage caused the company to re-evaluate their performance monitoring. “Our entire system went down over a weekend in September 2012,” says Milo. “It was a nightmare. We had invested a lot in building our customers’ trust, and the thought that we could lose that trust in just a matter of days was alarming to all of us.”

Once all systems were back online, the company began an aggressive push toward smarter IT governance. “We’ve created a governance group focused entirely on monitoring,” says Milo. “That group is approaching the issue from two perspectives—tactical and strategic. From a tactical standpoint, we want to maximize the 21 monitoring tools we already have in place. From a strategic standpoint, we’re asking a simple question: if we were starting from scratch, how would we monitor our environment? It’s apparent to me that our monitoring apparatus should have New Relic at its very center.”

With New Relic, MultiPlan gains a level of clarity and nuance that similar tools simply can’t match. “Other monitoring solutions tend to be binary,” says Gale. “If an error occurs, you get a notification, but you have no sense of severity. New Relic tells us if an error is trivial or critical, and that’s a huge help in prioritizing fixes.”

As MultiPlan rethinks its approach to monitoring, New Relic will be essential in gaining visibility across many components at once. “One of the most valuable things about New Relic is that it enables cross-application tracing,” says Milo. “In a complex environment like ours, a seemingly trivial issue—for instance, a web service that takes 300 milliseconds to execute—might bubble up and affect the user experience in an unexpectedly significant way. New Relic gives us a holistic view of those dependencies so that we can understand exactly where issues are emerging.”

“Other monitoring solutions tend to be binary. If an error occurs, you get a notification, but you have no sense of severity. New Relic tells us if an error is trivial or critical, and that’s a huge help in prioritizing fixes.”

David Gale Technical Architect, MultiPlan

Results

With help from New Relic, MultiPlan has seen a major reduction in average response time. “When we launched a new portal for our customers awhile back, all of our internal tests showed that our applications were running just fine,” says Gale. “But when we looked at New Relic’s Real User Monitoring feature, we saw that users were experiencing far longer response times than we expected. Thankfully, we were able to pinpoint the issues fairly quickly—Transaction Traces showed us that, among other things, our servers weren’t configured to cache static content. By making gradual adjustments over the course of a year, we reduced our average response time on the portal from 6.71 seconds to 2.93 seconds.”

In addition to a 56 percent reduction in average response time, Milo and his team now have sufficient insight to proactively address issues long before users are affected. They also have the information they need to react more swiftly and precisely when major issues emerge, thus avoiding another multi-day, system-wide outage.

“One Saturday afternoon not long ago, New Relic alerted me that three percent of all transactions were failing,” says Gale. “As it turned out, one of our VM hosts was on the fritz. We were able to mobilize our team over the weekend, pinpoint the root cause, and fix the problem before it could affect large numbers of providers during normal business hours. Without New Relic, we probably wouldn’t have been aware of the issue until Monday morning, when it could’ve prevented many of our customers from doing business. In the wake of last September’s outage, that situation would’ve been disastrous.”

As MultiPlan continues its journey toward greater resiliency and responsiveness, New Relic is bound to play a larger role in the company’s efforts to optimize the user experience. “Moving into the future, this tool is going to be critical for us as an organization,” says Milo. “As far as I’m concerned, we’ve just started to discover how valuable New Relic can be.”

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