City of High Point, North Carolina
The City of High Point, North Carolina, has a broad range of critical IT infrastructure it has to keep up and running at all times, including 24 x 7 emergency services. It also has the typical network challenges facing IT departments today: IPv6 and VoIP rollouts, Wi-Fi upgrades, database migrations, VMware deployments and more. And of course, perennially tight budgets. All of which meant the city’s IT team needed an integrated tool that would allow them to remain nimble, quickly address problems, eliminate travel and guesswork, build a case for system upgrades or changes, and more.
The city selected NetScout OptiView® XG Network Analysis Tablet, and in the process cut their troubleshooting time by more than 75 percent. The IT team can monitor existing systems, graphically show the need for changes or upgrades, gain insight on potential problems prior to new deployments, test and manage rollouts as they occur, and quickly identify and solve any issues. In short order, it has become the go-to starting point for any IT issues facing the city, ensuring that time is never wasted.
NetScout OptiView® XG Network Analysis Tablet
“The OptiView XG is always our starting point. It helps collaboration, gives the insights we need to make a case for upgrades or plan for deployments, allows us to test new implementations in real time, and quickly troubleshoot and fix problems as they arise. We look to this device first so we never waste time or money.” - Trent Spencer, network manager, City of High Point
High Point is a community of more than a hundred thousand nestled in central North Carolina. The city’s IT department is responsible for keeping systems running across a wide range of municipal services, from libraries and utilities to police and fire. The department oversees 30 fiber sites, 29 metro Ethernet networks, and a broad range of PCs, servers, databases and Cisco equipment that connect residents and more than 1,600 employees.Challenges
The IT team faces two primary challenges. The first is the basic task of working quickly and efficiently to keep all of the city’s systems operating and ensuring workers remain connected. They city’s emergency services add a sense of urgency to that troubleshooting, as they must stay up 24 x 7. The IT team can’t afford days of guesswork when trying to identify and fix any issues, so for the past several years the team had been relying on an old OptiView Series III from NetScout as their go-to troubleshooting tool.
“The OptiView III was great, routinely saving us time and effort in troubleshooting problems,” explained Trent Spencer, network manager for the City of High Point. “We’d often use it to pinpoint an issue before even going out for a site visit, and it never failed to deliver.”
For example, when a major virus hit the city’s systems, Spencer and his team were able to use the OptiView III to identify the problem and isolate the affected machines. “That allowed us to lock down the VLAN before the virus could spread and take down the whole city network, which would have been a disaster,” Spencer said. “The OptiView III more than paid for itself in just that instance alone.”
The other challenge is also a common one: the IT team is responsible for a broad range of new initiatives, and planning for those deployments, testing and managing the installation, and troubleshooting any problems that arise is difficult without the proper tools. Spencer and his team are working on PoE, IPv6 and 1G upgrades, VMware and Wi-Fi rollouts, ERP integrations and database migrations, and planning for a future VoIP deployment – just to name a few. Spencer’s group needs to be able to first assess their current systems, make a business case for upgrades and gauge readiness for any changes. They also need to be able to look at and test the new deployments as they happen, to make sure they are on-track and correct any problems as they arise. And once the systems are up and running, they need to be able to tweak various configurations or troubleshoot issues to ensure peak performance and uptime.
“The proper tool is critical to making all that happen,” Spencer noted. “We needed to invest in a new more comprehensive solution that could go beyond troubleshooting and help us really understand what’s going on with our systems. We wanted to know when and where we could benefit from changes, but have a tool that was easy to use and fast… something that could help ensure things would go smoothly during the process.”Solution
Since he was already familiar with NetScout OptiView series, Spencer had been watching – and coveting – the steady stream of new capabilities the company was adding. He knew that these improvements could save the team significant time and effort on a broader range of network issues, and made that case to his boss. When he saw what NetScout delivered with the latest OptiView XG Network Analysis Tablet, he realized the time had come to upgrade.
The OptiView XG gives organizations the ability to quickly troubleshoot issues and identify root cause. And, its support for a broad range of connectivity profiles, from Wi-Fi and PoE to 10GbE and IPv6, makes it ideal for use in any environment, whether in a data center, with virtualized servers, or out in the field at a remote site. Its intuitive user interface with smart navigation and built-in guided problem solving allows network operating teams to leverage customizable dashboards to view data as needed. And OptiView XG’s graphical path analysis and reporting features provide not only an instant view of connections between switches and devices for faster network mapping, but also allow even unsophisticated users to better understand what’s actually happening on the network.
“OptiView XG doesn’t just help us fix network issues fast, it allows us to understand – and show – how various aspects of our IT infrastructure are operating. That’s critical when we’re trying to work with different department heads to improve network performance,” explains Spencer. “IP addresses and numbers just don’t give the insight and understanding we need for people to approve changes, allocate budget and stop the finger-pointing. This has quickly become the tool we start with for most everything we do.”
The OptiView XG makes it simple for Spencer and his team to gain a holistic view of different aspects of network and application performance, immediately spot problems and drill deeper for insight.
“I can look at 1G, 10G or Wi-Fi networks, see DNS and virtual servers, gather VoIP information with just a click, anything I need,” notes Spencer. “I really like that I can tailor different panes on the home screen for my environment, then just drill down to individual devices, processes and protocols as necessary. I can even do a quick packet capture if I need hardcore details. Whatever we want to see, the OptiView XG seems to anticipate it.”
Spencer estimates that the OptiView XG has cut troubleshooting time for the city by more than 75 percent, which not only saves resources for the IT department, but ensures greater uptime for city personnel. “Being able to remotely analyze a problem is huge for us. It eliminates travel, pinpoints issues so we’re not just walking around, and allows us to effectively service any part of the organization from a central location. During weather-related emergencies that’s particularly important as we can’t have teams just out and about.”
As the city looks to upgrade its systems, the OptiView XG routinely proves its value. For instance, the city’s migration to a new ERP system involved significant testing, tweaking and troubleshooting throughout the deployment process. “These systems are pulling from multiple servers, databases, sites and applications to bring data back to your screen. How can you show why things are lagging?” Spencer asks. “With the OptiView XG we could drill into specific apps or connections to see what’s going on, and understand that ‘oh, this application’s not responding’ or ‘there’s too much information in this database building process and it’s slowing things down.’”
“Before we had this device, we’d have to get programmers to look at the servers, then the database folks would come in, then a security team for the network throughput,” he continued. “It was a time consuming, frustrating, finger-pointing exercise. Now we just look at the OptiView XG, isolate the specific issue and fix it.”
Spencer is quick to summarize why he likes the new device. “The OptiView XG is always our starting point. It helps collaboration, gives the insights we need to make a case for upgrades or plan for deployments, allows us to test new implementations in real time, and quickly troubleshoot and fix problems as they arise. We look to this device first so we never waste time or money.”