Case Study: City of Brussels | NETSCOUT

Case Study: IT Provider for the City of Brussels Uses NETSCOUT TruView to Monitor Network and Application Performance Across the City

At a Glance:

Industry:

IT Service Provider for Local Government


Location:

Brussels, Belgium


Challenge:

GIAL was created by the city of Brussels to provide and manage their IT services. GIAL also provides IT solutions for other municipal organizations, public administration offices, hospitals and more, throughout the region. Key to their success is the ability to maintain high levels of network and application performance, and to quickly and proactively respond when issues arise. Unfortunately, the Telecom team at GIAL lacked good visibility into the communication flow of the network and the performance of applications. When problems did arise, the team would reactively troubleshoot and struggled to isolate root cause. Furthermore, with no insight into how applications impacted the network, GIAL could not effectively test the rollout of new applications or accurately conduct capacity planning.


Solution:

NETSCOUT TruView™


Result:

To overcome these challenges, GIAL worked closely with the Belgacom Group to select NETSCOUT TruView. It delivers a comprehensive application-aware network performance monitoring solution that gives the team complete insight into performance, allowing them to detect and resolve network and application issues quickly, before they impacted end-users. In addition, TruView offers the most comprehensive data capture capabilities, going beyond just SNMP to capture NetFlow, and automatically correlates all information into a single dashboard view so the team can properly plan for system upgrades and test new applications prior to deployment.


Overview

GIAL was created by the City of Brussels in 1993. It delivers critical IT services to government organizations and other regional, provincial and community utilities such as libraries, schools and more.

TruView is an indispensible solution and essential for our network and operations team. It gives us complete visibility into traffic and the impact this traffic can have on the network or applications. It saves us valuable time by automatically correlating all of the data and rolling that information into a format that is easy to use, easy to act on, and easy to share. Whether monitoring the network, troubleshooting or rolling out new technology, TruView gives us the insights we need to be successful.

– Kris Vanbiervliet, team leader for telecom and security at GIAL

Challenges

GIAL is responsible for deploying and managing IT services for the city of Brussels and supports more than 290 servers (190 virtual servers), 5,800 desktops, 350 LAN switches, 150 wireless access points, across more than 230 sites. The organization supports key applications in finance, human resources, public services and more.

To ensure the successful delivery of its services, the telecom team is responsible for managing and monitoring the network and applications, troubleshooting problems, and deploying new applications and technology. However, with a lack of network and application visibility, the team often struggles to efficiently and effectively meet their goals.

“One of the biggest roadblocks to ensuring performance is visibility. Users report networking problems a couple times a month, and application issues a couple times a week, but without proper visibility into the network or how data is traversing the network, our teams have a very difficult time finding root cause and fixing issues,” said Kris Vanbiervliet, team lead for telecom and security at GIAL. “It can be like finding a needle in a haystack.”

Making matters worse, the teams often field vague problem ticket requests, and they lack the ability to look at historical data to help isolate problems. Identifying whether it is a network, server or application issue is a time consuming and frustrating process, requiring the team to use cumbersome methods and tools.

“Tickets come in with problems like ‘the network is slow’ or ‘30 minutes ago I couldn’t access my HR application.’ When you don’t have a real-time view, or historical information, of network and application performance, it makes it very difficult to help resolve the issue quickly for the end user. Your starting point is literally everywhere,” Vanbiervliet said.

GIAL also is constantly expanding and changing their service offerings to meet the evolving needs of their clients. This includes adding connectivity and deploying new applications. However, without a complete understanding of network utilization or how an application will impact the network, the team often spends large amounts of time validating the need for new links, or rolling the dice when deploying new applications.

“There are a variety of reasons why we might have to add bandwidth or a new application. It could be due to increased customer demand, an increase in a new technology like video, or because we’re rolling out a new application with new requirements,” Vanbiervliet said. “Regardless, without insight into how the network is performing now, we can’t accurately make a recommendation or plan for the change.”

Solution

After working closely with Belgacom Group, the region’s largest telecom and communications integrator, the company selected NETSCOUT TruView, a breakthrough advancement that sets a new bar for how IT organizations quickly and effectively monitor and troubleshoot network and application performance problems. The custom built appliance 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. It time correlates the results providing cross-functional IT teams at GIAL with a new found ability to work more collaboratively and solve problems fast. The team is never more than a few clicks away from isolating down to the application, server, interface/device, transaction, or even packet at the source of any performance issue.

“We looked at other solutions, such as Opnet and SecurActive, but none of these solutions captured the amount of critical data needed to get a comprehensive view of network and application performance. And not only does it capture that data, it eliminates the need for swivel chair correlations and allows our teams to collaborate on solving issues and rolling out new services or applications. We can now see what crosses the network and how it impacts performance – that’s priceless for our organization,” Vanbiervliet said.


Results

Since deploying TruView with help from Belgacom, the telecom and security team at GIAL has been able to proactively respond to incoming trouble tickets and quickly evaluate and resolve problems.

“We now have a permanent and global view into the flow of communication across our network. This gives us the ability to immediately isolate a problem to the network, server or application layer, and start the troubleshooting process. For many of the problems, we’re just a click away from looking at detailed packet information that can shed light on a fix,” Vanbiervliet said.

For example, recently GIAL received a trouble ticket from one of its library properties and from the Department of Demographics. Both complained of a slow network when using key applications. The team used TruView to quickly look at each application and found neither problem was a networking issue. The first problem was due to an employee downloading large video files and the second, was a problem with the actual application.

“In both of these cases, it would have take our team hours to isolate the root of the problem, but with TruView we were able to figure out the source in minutes and give that information to the applicable team for final resolution,” Vanbiervliet said. “This is the amazing value to TruView, it collects all the information and data we need so we can immediately troubleshoot a problem and move on.”

The team will also use TruView for capacity planning and when rolling out new applications. With customer requirements for bandwidth and connectivity constantly evolving, the team at GIAL is always working to upgrade the network. And, when new applications are developed or deployed, the team is responsible for understanding and planning for the impact.

“Adding new links and other hardware is a costly expense that we have to validate to our leadership team. Before TruView, this was a tedious process. But now, with the visibility we have and the reporting capabilities of the system, we monitor utilization and quickly and effectively make a case for upgrades,” Vanbiervliet said. “The numbers don’t lie, and with a report in hand, we’re able to streamline the capacity planning process.”

GIAL customers are also constantly developing custom applications or deploying new applications. “The big questions are: How will this application perform on the network and will it impact the network. Before TruView it was trial and error, which caused a lot of mischief. Now, with TruView, we can test before we fully deploy and make changes if needed before it impacts users.”

“The reality is, TruView is an indispensible solution and essential for our network and operations team. It gives us complete visibility into traffic and the impact this traffic can have on the network or applications. It saves us valuable time by automatically correlating all of the data and rolling that information into a format that is easy to use, easy to act on, and easy to share. Whether monitoring the network, troubleshooting or rolling out new technology, TruView gives us the insights we need to be successful,” Vanbiervliet concluded.

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