Case Study: Fluke Networks’ Visual TruView Helps Ensure Network and Application Performance Across County Tipperary in Ireland
 
 
At a Glance:

Customer:

County Tipperary


Industry:

Government


Location:

Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland


Challenge:

County Tipperary is one of 32 historical counties in Ireland and home to more than 158,000 residents. Until recently, the county had been administered by two separate authorities: the North Tipperary County Council and South Tipperary County Council. A 2012 government decision to merge the two councils has resulted in the need to create a single, unified IT infrastructure for the county’s services and public-facing websites. When completed in June 2014, the network will include a mix of internal applications, public-facing websites and portals for services such as housing, water, roads, environment, planning and other key local government functions. The county’s IT staff needs visibility into the performance of the network and applications across the entire county to quickly identify and resolve the source of problems.


Result:

The €1.8 million IT consolidation project includes the creation of a primary data center and disaster recovery site in the town of Nenagh connecting to 57 remote county offices and sites over a variety of connections (point-to-point, VPN, private DSL, MPLS, etc.). While the network is still being built out, County Tipperary’s IT staff has used Fluke Networks Visual TruView to identify potential issues that could have resulted in perceived performance problems for end users. TruView has already uncovered operational performance issues like balky Exchange servers, while helping to geographically isolate (and rule out) causes for issues like slow user log-ins. That has helped the Tipperary IT Infrastructure team, which is located in the northern part of the county, provide users in the south with the level of service they expect despite the distance separating them.


Product:

Fluke Networks Visual TruView


“With TruView you can get a high-level overview of what’s going on with a particular site or a particular application very quickly. It’s very easy to interpret. We can see which applications are having or causing problems. With our previous solution, it took much longer. And, of course, with TruView you can drill down into the data when you need to take a closer look.”

Customer

County Tipperary is one of 32 historical counties in Ireland and home to more than 158,000 residents. Until recently the county had been administered by two separate authorities: the North Tipperary County Council and South Tipperary County Council. In 2012, the Irish government moved forward with a somewhat controversial plan to combine the two county councils into a single entity, a decision that will take full effect in June 2014.

One of the more complex tasks involved in the merger is the creation of a single, unified IT infrastructure for the county’s services and public-facing websites. The €1.8 million IT consolidation project includes the creation of a primary data center in the town of Nenagh and disaster recovery site connecting to 57 remote county offices and sites over a variety of connections (point-to-point, VPN, private DSL, MPLS, etc.).

When completed, the network will include a mix of internal applications, public-facing websites and portals for services such as housing, water, roads, environment, planning and other key local government functions. In addition to standard business applications for communications, productivity, CRM and financial management, the network will also host some bandwidth intensive GIS and mapping applications. It will also support remote access and a variety of mobile services and applications.

Challenges

Creating a single unified network across all of County Tipperary is a major undertaking. All of the merged authority’s back-end infrastructure will be located in the North of the county. As a result, all WAN services from the Southern part of the county are being relocated and re-terminated at the Nenagh head end. Major sites in the south of the county will send traffic out through a switch core, up the point to point link to be dropped off in the primary data center core. About 800 users will be connecting to services hosted in the data center, of which approximately 450 will be from the southern part of the county.

Dermot Tobin, Information Systems Project leader for the Network Services and Infrastructure integration effort, noted that the technical complexity of merging existing systems, applications and data was just one of his major concerns. He and his team are especially conscious of the fact that users from the Southern part of the county are sensitive to performance issues in light of the division of labor and responsibility for the unified network. Being able to remotely diagnose and solve network and application problems is a priority.

“We need a tool that can give us a complete picture of what is happening with applications, servers and the network across the entire county,” said Tobin. “Right now, we’re still building the network. But in the medium term, it’s important for us to be able to isolate the source of performance issues so we can get application problems on the desk of the applications team and network problems to the network team so they can address them quickly.”

Solution

Tobin and his team chose the Fluke Networks Visual TruView appliance to provide the application and network performance monitoring they need. TruView leverages key data sets such as stream-to-disk packet storage, application response time, transactional decode, IPFIX (NetFlow), and SNMP to present analytics through a single reporting interface. As TruView processes analytics from these data sets, it time correlates the results providing cross-functional IT teams such as network engineering, application, and server teams with a new found ability to work more collaboratively and solve problems fast. County Tipperary deployed TruView directly in its data center core.

“With TruView you can get a high-level overview of what’s going on with a particular site or a particular application very quickly. It’s very easy to interpret. We can see which applications are having or causing problems. With our previous solution, it took much longer. And, of course, with TruView you can drill down into the data when you need to take a closer look.”

Tobin has been a user of Fluke Networks products for more than 12 years. County Tipperary even had one of the earliest OptiView portable network monitoring devices which was extensively used across the network. So when it came time to choose a performance monitoring solution, Tobin knew Fluke Networks could deliver.

“We had no identified budget for a TruView appliance this year, but we could clearly see the benefits we could realise from deploying the solution. We managed to identify savings and re-prioritise some other projects within our budget in order to fund purchase of the TruView” said Tobin. “We chose the TruView because it offered better value than the other performance monitoring solutions we saw.”


Results

According to Tobin, before deploying the TruView, performance monitoring was fairly manual. “We’d used and were very familiar with NetFlow. With TruView, we have a much better view of application performance, particularly from the user perspective.”

Tobin cited the example of an application response time issue with Exchange. TruView helped to isolate the particular server that was the root of the problem. As the launch of County Tipperary’s unified network approaches, TruView has helped Tobin and his team find “bits and pieces” of things that might have impacted application performance had they gone undetected.

Another recent example of practical use was an issue in which slow user logins were being reported from the southern end of the network. “Using the TruView, within minutes we eliminated the point-to-point link, server side performance and end user response times and firmly diagnosed the issue to be local to the southern end of the network. This is exactly the type of scenario we knew the TruView could help us with. Prior to this it would have required an exhaustive search to figure out what exactly or where exactly the issue was.”

As the launch of the new, unified network gets nearer Tobin sees TruView becoming even more useful. “We’re looking forward to seeing how much more it can do. I don’t think we’ve taken full advantage of it yet.”