Grenoble École de Management
The Grenoble Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a group of institutions which includes the Chamber of Commerce and the Grenoble École de Management (Grenoble Graduate School of Business). The Chamber, the Business School and the other entities share IT resources and staff. The central infrastructure is concentrated in two data centers (at the Chamber’s headquarters and at the Business School). In total, it consists of approximately 200 servers, mostly virtualized. The Chamber counts about 400 users, while the Business School accounts about 1500 users on site and up to 7500 users if we include the students using the e-learning resources remotely (while on an internship or for MIB & MBA students).
Why SkyLIGHT™ PVX ?
The acquisition of SkyLIGHT™ PVX (formerly Performance Vision) responded to a set of objectives shared by the different entities of the Chamber of Commerce, including Grenoble École de Management, and to the context of the major projects for 2011.
- The entities of the Chamber of Commerce encountered quality of service (QoS) issues at the network level following a migration to a new WAN operator. They needed a tool that would provide a reliable and independent measure of the quality of the WAN links, as well as an insight on to the content and nature of the WAN flows;
- Grenoble École de Management largely relies upon Wi-Fi to enable its students to access its IT systems. It had experienced some issues in terms of quality and stability at this level;
- Within the IT department, they were conscious that managing the quality of service and the eventual user complaints required having a set of objective indicators of the performance of our applications. They wished to be capable of measuring end-user response times, performing regular testing to follow their evolution, and identifying potential degradations. This need was particularly strong for database applications, which are critical for users and for which they had insufficient skills in-house to validate their optimization.
“We wanted to be able to measure end-user response times, and identify potential degradation of critical apps.” — Emmanuel Pieux, Network Manager
How do you use SkyLIGHT PVX?
We used SkyLIGHT PVX to run our projects smoothly, to reduce exposure to risk, to drive our partners and providers, as well as to proceed with troubleshooting operations. During this first year, SkyLIGHT PVX has been used intensively in various key projects for the Chamber. The first project motivated the purchase of the solution and, since then, SkyLIGHT PVX has constantly been used for a variety of projects:
- 1ST PROJECT: DATA REPLICATION BETWEEN THE TWO DATA CENTERS
One of the major projects for our team was to implement continuous data replication between our two data centers, as part of our Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). We employ a solution called DoubleTake that performs data synchronization between our two server rooms over a 100 Mbps link.
When we launched the project, we ignored the real impact of synchronization on the bandwidth and the performance of the applications that use the same link. It was obvious to us that we needed a capacity planning tool. We first turned to our operator, who offered a very basic service. Its solution was offering much more limited features than SkyLIGHT PVX at a yearly cost that exceeded by far the investment required for SkyLIGHT PVX. Moreover, the operator’s solution did not offer a guarantee of neutrality, as it was operated by one of the parties.
Based on this, we implemented SkyLIGHT PVX. It confirmed that sufficient bandwidth was available. We monitored the implementation of the replication and conducted our project without any issue and with full visibility. SkyLIGHT PVX has continuously provided us with clear and objective data:
- DoubleTake was keeping its promises regarding bandwidth utilization: 40% during the daytime and 80% at night;
- We could validate the time windows applied in the configuration of the solution;
- We checked that the critical applications, which were running in parallel with the replication flow, were distributed without any performance degradation;
- The VoIP traffic was running fine. SkyLIGHT PVX helped us validate the quality of the SIP flow, the call volumes, and the bandwidth used for this service.
During this first two-month session, we have provided our backup provider with genuine metrics to fine tune our replication strategy.
- 2ND PROJECT: DIAGNOSTIC OF WIFI DISCONNECTION ISSUE
Grenoble School of Management encountered a large number of issues in its Wi-Fi architecture. (It is a large infrastructure based on numerous access points, commonly used for over 1000 simultaneous connections (e.g., laptops, smartphones, tablets).
Students could connect with a relatively good signal but had difficulties getting an IP address or were disconnected soon after they received an IP address.
We mirrored the ports used for our Meru Networks Wi-Fi controllers to analyze that traffic with SkyLIGHT PVX. We first focused our analysis on the DNS flow of the Windows clients, because we suspected that a name resolution issue might be the origin of our problem. We were surprised: we could see that this was not the case. Indeed, our Wi-Fi users were switching from the new Wi-Fi network to the old one, because the new network was disconnecting them after a certain time of inactivity. Once they were reconnected on the old network, they had kept their first IP address and could not access any resources.
During this troubleshooting operation, we used SkyLIGHT PVX to gather information to validate or invalidate our hypotheses. During the implementation of the new configuration, SkyLIGHT PVX helped us drive our partner’s work and validate that the new configuration parameters were solving our problem.
- 3RD PROJECT: DEFINE A BASELINE FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF OUR CRITICAL APPLICATIONS
We needed to get some measures of the end-user response time for our CRM and database applications. We developed these measures with SkyLIGHT PVX and recorded “normal” EURT values for these two applications. Thus, we had a reference to see if their performance degraded or improved over time.
Quickly we decided to do the same systematically for all applications. This measure, which remains inside the IT department, helps us to compare an objective value with feedback from users (which is by definition imprecise and subjective).
- 4TH PROJECT: RESOLUTION OF NETWORK DEGRADATION ON A REMOTE SITE
At one of our remote sites, users were complaining about some application slowdowns. We placed a SkyLIGHT PVX probe so that we could capture the traffic of their link: we instantly qualified the existence of bandwidth congestion and noticed that the resolution of DNS requests on the network was slow.
A few months earlier, we had decided to centralize all the servers (which were previously located on that remote site) into the Chamber’s datacenter to secure them physically and electrically. We realized that some CAD applications relying on Windows roaming profiles had such bandwidth requirements that it could not work through our WAN.
We decided to go back to the original solution and to place the servers on the remote site, which solved the quality of service issues at no additional cost.
“Within the IT department, everyone is fully convinced of the Return on Investment of SkyLIGHT PVX.” — Emmanuel Pieux, Network Manager
After a few months of use, what is your feedback on SkyLIGHT PVX?
We move SkyLIGHT PVX around our network depending on our needs. We have a flight case that enables us to do so in a safe way for the Chamber of Commerce’s ten sites, including Grenoble École de Management. The probe helps us make good decisions on many issues and projects by providing us with genuine and objective data. We can immediately see where a problem comes from and how to solve it.
Since our first use of it for troubleshooting, SkyLIGHT PVX has proved to be very efficient. As a result, requests for analysis have continued to flow in from the different entities of the Chamber. In fact, due to its popularity, we have had to establish a schedule for using the probe and sharing it with other different groups. In the IT department, everyone is fully convinced of the return on investment of the SkyLIGHT PVX probe.
In the future, we will consider the installation of additional, virtual probes to visualize the traffic between the different sites in a distributed solution.
“We use SkyLIGHT PVX to run our projects smoothly, to reduce exposure to risk, and to drive our partners and providers.” — Emmanuel Pieux, Network Manager
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