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Simplifying switch administration with the Novate monitoring web app

Reliability is a sine qua non of any EFT switching platform. By their nature, however, individual servers are inherently unreliable. Disks can fail, power supplies can fail, RAID controllers can (and do) fail, and network cards can fail.

Once we acknowledge this fact, it becomes clear that any payments switch that we put into production must be able to withstand the failure of any single piece of infrastructure.  Typically, the solution to this is to run two or more switch instances simultaneously, with either a dedicated backup in ‘hot standby’ mode, or with more than one switch accepting authorisations at any one time – known as running your switch in ‘active-active’ mode.

While building Novate we have taken this consideration into account. We believe that the default way in which Novate will be run in production by most of our customers will be in distributed mode. Multiple switches will be live at any one time, and the question that switching administrators need to answer is not ‘how is this single switch instance performing?’, but rather ‘how is my entire switching platform performing?’.

With this in mind, it is possible to monitor and control many switching instances from within the Novate monitoring application. It is possible to control individual interfaces, refresh caches and configure routing settings for all switches (or for a single switch) within what is known as a switching topology from a single instance of the Novate monitoring web application.

Additionally, each Novate switching instance collects detailed performance statistics as it runs. It is possible to see performance statistics per interface, error rates, parse times, database write times and so on – down to the individual authorisation message. This allows administrators to get a bird’s eye view of how their overall topology is running from a single web application.

We’re particularly excited by the flexibility that our performance monitoring features can offer to our customers. For example, we believe that we can make it easy for switching providers to generate SLA reports directly from Novate’s performance statistics – a task that today often requires customised SQL queries and Excel formula shenanigans.

Look out for future posts on our logging framework – we’re really proud of it!