Transaction monitoring – who is watching the watchers?

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Finding out how to monitor active/active environments without letting the tech get in the way
 ~ Written by Steve Kirrage, Director of Stanchion Payment Solutions, Middle East.

Ask any financial IT operations team what their number one headache is, and the answer is likely to be unplanned downtime.

Reducing downtime is easily a top priority for IT professionals working for banks, card services and payment processing companies, where any lag or downtime within the payments processing system is unacceptable.

The challenge is that payment systems are getting more complex, rather than simpler which means ensuring large credit card and debit transactions are processed, without a hitch, is getting more difficult by the upgrade.

Often great lengths are taken to install active/active environments to reroute transactions should a bottleneck or failed switch occur in a payment environment. There are many benefits associated with active/active application architecture: more controlled planned downtime, capacity expansion, and load balancing to name a few.

However, there are disadvantages too. Other issues may flare up given the increasing infrastructure complexity, where multiple data centres present the risk of more places where things can go wrong within your payments environment. Problems can include network and application systems developing operational ‘blind spots’, causing transaction slowdowns or failures to occur and the fact that the more potential transaction paths there are, the higher the risk of third party and host connection issues, as well.

While many problematic scenarios may present, the opportunity lies in being able to keep a eye on every transaction path within the complex/active environment, developing and end-to-end view into every transaction.

So the answer to this complexity is to monitor the real-time performance of transactions within active/active architectures. Payments transactions and other banking service requests pass through numerous application components or ‘hops’ before they can be completed – moving from ATM, POS, mobile banking or internet banking applications, and sometimes third party services (such as Visa or Mastercard).

Essentially, we manage the complexity by adding just a little bit more complexity to the system. Which is why it is vital that the monitoring solution chosen is as invisible to the payments environment as possible, not impacting the ability for the payments system to run at full efficiency.

The answer lies in partnering with trusted solution providers that understand both the benefits and challenges posed by active/active architectures, and in deploying a real-time transaction monitoring solution that is independent of your payments network architecture.

The original blog can be found on the Stanchion Payment Solutions’ website. To learn more about how to manage increasingly complex active/active environments, contact or your local Stanchion Payment Solutions representative.