Leica Geosystems selects PRTG as their Corporate Monitoring Solution

Leica Geosystems – Measuring the World for 200 Years

No matter what you need to measure, from performing the first exact 3D scan of Mont Blanc’s ice cap to helping the city of Nottingham, UK reduce their carbon emissions by 26%, Leica Geosystems has a solution in its portfolio. Leica Geosystems AG, part of Hexagon, has been creating pioneering measurement solutions for nearly 200 years and have earned the trust of professionals worldwide. The wide range of core technologies – total stations, EDM (Electronic Distance Measurement), GPS/GNSS, 3D laser scanning, tilt and angle measurement, point cloud generation and analysis, and measurement software -- is in use in industries as varied as water utilities to fine cabinetry.

Leica Geosystems’ IT team provides highly-available IT services to more than 4,500 employees in 35 countries, and, as such, needs to ensure reliable IT delivery in a complex, multi-vendor, multi-national environment. The IT team themselves are spread across multiple locations and multiple time zones, so it’s critical to their IT operations to have a central monitoring console where all locations have access to the same real-time IT status information.

Leica Geosystems has chosen PRTG Network Monitor as its central monitoring tool and use it to monitor IT services worldwide, in close cooperation with its IT service desk team.

PRTG: Organic Growth with SQL

Leica Geosystems started using PRTG in 2013, as part of a project to manage SQL databases. Its main consultant for the SQL project was ITPS AG, an IT service provider with extensive experience in both SQL and PRTG. As part of the SQL project, ITPS recommend PRTG Network Monitor for monitoring the organization’s database servers.

PRTG includes built-in sensors for SQL, and ITPS extended PRTG’s functionality with additional, customscripted SQL sensors to tailor the monitoring to Leica Geosystems’ requirements. ITPS developed their own PRTG PLUGIN software for generating output from an SQL query against MSSQL, MYSQL and Oracle databases, and successfully implemented it as a pilot project for Leica Geosystems.

In addition to the specialized SQL sensors, which check the health of the databases, Leica Geosystems included monitoring of the underlying physical hardware, virtual servers and operating systems on which those databases run, to ensure that the underlying infrastructure is available.

Consolidate and Simplify

However, like many organizations, Leica Geosystems already had several different monitoring tools in use, so adding PRTG for SQL monitoring meant adding yet another tool to the mix. And, like many organizations, they weren’t satisfied with this situation.

“We already had a number of different monitoring tools in use: Ipswitch’s WhatsUp Gold, theGuard!’s BSM (Business Service Manager) for SAP, and HP’s System Insight Manager (SIM). It was time to start consolidating and simplifying our IT management tools. After evaluating the tools we already had, we quickly selected PRTG as our new corporate standard.”, says Michael Türtscher, IT-Service Owner Monitoring at Leica Geosystems.

Thus began a company-wide project to migrate monitoring from other tools to a single, centralized PRTG installation.

Onboarding the Infrastructure

Since the SQL servers were already being monitored by PRTG, they turned their attention to the rest of their server infrastructure. They added the rest of their server hardware, for both physical and virtual servers, and the operating systems on those servers. Leica Geosystems has physical and virtual servers in more than 30 locations worldwide, all being monitored by their PRTG Landscape.

But reliable IT operations depend on more than just servers, so they added monitoring for their NAS storage systems, as well as monitoring for their backup processes, to ensure that backups have run correctly. To ensure uptime even during a power failure, Leica Geosystems monitors the UPS battery levels in all of their locations to ensure they can maintain uptime.

One of their more complicated projects was to integrate PRTG with their CMDB, to provide sanity checks between their CMDB database and their PRTG configuration. Using the PRTG API, they read data and configuration information out of PRTG, nightly, and enter this configuration information into their CMDB. This gives the operations team a simple way to ensure that both the CMDB and PRTG are correctly configured and synchronized. The CMDB data import includes things such as timestamps from PRTG (e.g. last successful check) and the PRTG sensors which are configured for that device. If any of the information doesn’t match, the devices are marked, so the operations team can fix any inconsistencies.

And then came SAP…

The final step in the consolidation of monitoring tools was the implementation of an SAP PRTG Plug-In. Again, Leica Geosystems worked together with ITPS to develop a set of custom SAP sensors, which provide detailed information about SAP applications to PRTG. These are implemented as plug-ins for SAP ABAP and SAP Java servers. Now, for each SAP application, Leica Geosystems can monitor the operating system level, the SQL database level, and the SAP application level.

Today they’re running a PRTG Enterprise Core Server and worldwide remote probes with an unlimited license, and currently have 16,000 sensors in use. Of those 16,000, 11,000 are for the central IT department, and 5,000 are managed by other internal departments.

PRTG Landscape

There are several remote probes in use:

  • One in Heerbrugg, Switzerland
  • One for APAC
  • One for EMEA
  • One for the Americas
  • One for their SQL databases
  • Two for other internal departments

Leica Geosystems has put significant effort into standardizing its PRTG configuration and to simplify IT operations. The organization used a service-based device tree structure as the basis for reaching that goal.

Organizing the servers into availability/SLA classes gives the company the ability to easily determine how critical a failure is, and to respond or escalate depending on the SLA.

The company then created device templates for all of their server types, with careful consideration of what sensors and what thresholds it needs. Leica Geosystems intentionally kept the number of sensors per device small (5-10 sensors/device). It considered the tradeoff between more sensors with more detail, versus manageability, and chose to keep its monitoring simple. This was a conscious decision to “give up” details that the company probably only need once per year in return for standardized, easy-tounderstand monitoring and alerting.

In the templates, Leica Geosystems uses almost exclusively SNMP-based sensors with very little WMI. Of course, its custom SQL and SAP sensors from ITPS play a large role, too.

The organization’s thresholds are also set using templates, although they also simplified thresholding and thus its alerts.

All Green, All the Time

And Leica Geosystems has done something particularly unique with its alerting.

This is unusual, but the organization turned off nearly all PRTG notifications! No more emails or SMS to the operations team when there’s a problem. Heh? What?

Leica Geosystems already had an incident management system, and it was confusing for the service desk staff to see alerts on their consoles, in their email, and in the incident management system. It wasn’t clear where they should acknowledge issues and keep track of activity related to the issue. So, they simply removed the email notifications from the mix.

The service desk staff now look only at the PRTG console to learn about new alarms. When an alarm occurs, they open an incident ticket, acknowledge the alarm in PRTG, and include the incident ticket number in the acknowledgement text. That way, all incidents are tracked in the ticketing system, and all known issues are already acknowledged in the PRTG console.

This led Leica Geosystems to its “all green” strategy: all sensors should be either green or acknowledged. When everything is under control, all known issues are already acknowledged in PRTG and are already being worked on in the incident tracking system. This greatly simplifies life for the service desk.

People and Process

As Leica Geosystems noted in an interview, the single most important factor for success was organization, with a focus on the human element, not IT. The monitoring is so successful because the company is focused on the personal and corporate processes, not only on structuring PRTG.

The most important question was: Who responds to an alarm? And How?

The process must be clear, and it must be followed -- across departments, across locations, across technologies. Thanks to Leica Geosystems’ clear, structured process, and its clear, structured monitoring, the organization now has full visibility over all of their relevant IT services and full control over incident management.

About Leica Geosystems

Revolutionizing the world of measurement and survey for nearly 200 years, Leica Geosystems is the industry leader in measurement and information technologies. We create complete solutions for professionals across the planet. Known for innovative product and solution development, professionals in a diverse mix of industries, such as surveying and engineering, building and heavy construction, safety and security, and power and plant trust Leica Geosystems for all their geospatial needs. With precise and accurate instruments, sophisticated software, and trusted services, Leica Geosystems delivers value every day to those shaping the future of our world.

Leica Geosystems is part of Hexagon (Nasdaq Stockholm: HEXA B, hexagon.com), a leading global provider of information technology solutions that drive productivity and quality across geospatial and industrial landscapes.

Michael Türtscher
IT System Engineer - Infrastructure
IT-Service Owner Monitoring
Leica Geosystems AG

About ITPS AG

The main goal of ITPS’ business is a long-lasting, reliable and successful partnership with all their clients. For our clients we offer up-to-date, fast and efficient solutions. We invest time and money in education and further training. As member of ASQF (Association for Software Quality and Further Education) and ASIM (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Simulation) we share the commitment to guarantee quality standards in information and communication technology. We are holder of MCP and ISQI Certificate, iSQI® Certified Professional for Project Management and ISTQB® Certified Tester- Foundation Level.