Why Performance Vision ?
The acquisition of Performance Vision responded to a set of objectives shared by the different entities of the Chamber of Commerce and to the context of 2011’s major projects.
- The entities of the Chamber of Commerce encountered quality of service issues at the network level following a migration to a new WAN operator. We needed a tool that provides a reliable and independent measure of the quality of the WAN links, as well as an insight on the content and nature of the WAN flows;
- Grenoble School of Management massively relies on Wi-Fi to allow its students to access its IT systems. We had experienced some issues in terms of quality and stability at this level;
- Within the IT department, we 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. We wished to be capable of measuring end user response times, of performing regular testing to follow the evolutions and identify potential degradations. This need was particularly strong for database applications, which are critical for our users and for which we had insufficient skills in-house to validate their optimization.”
How do you use Performance Vision?
We used Performance Vision to run our projects smoothly, to reduce the risk exposure, to drive our partners and providers, as well as to proceed to troubleshooting operations. During this first year, Performance Vision has been intensively used in various key projects for the Chamber. The first project has motivated the purchase of the solution and since then, it has been used constantly for a variety of projects:
- 1ST PROJECT: DATA REPLICATION BETWEEN THE TWO DATACENTERS
One of the major projects for our team was to implement a continuous data replication between our two datacenters, as part of our Disaster Recovery Plan. We use the solution DoubleTake, which performs the data synchronization between our two server rooms over a 100 Mbps link.
When we launched the project, we ignored the real impact of the synchronization on the bandwidth and the performance of the applications which 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 Performance Vision at a yearly rate which hugely exceeded the investment required by Performance Vision. Moreover, the solution did not offer the guarantee of neutrality, as it was operated by one of the parties.
Based on this, we implemented Performance Vision. It confirmed that the bandwidth available was sufficient. We monitored the implementation of the replication and conducted our project without any issue and with a full visibility. Performance Vision continuously provided us with clear and objective data:
- DoubleTake was holding its promises in terms of bandwidth utilization: 40% on day time 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 of the replication flow, were distributed without any performance degradation;
- The VoIP traffic was running fine. Performance Vision helped us validate both 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 1.000 simultaneous connections – laptops, smartphones, tablets…).
Students could connect with a relatively good signal but had difficulties getting an IP address or were disconnected right after they got an IP address.
We mirrored the ports used for our Meru Networks Wi-Fi controllers to analyze that traffic with Performance Vision. We first focused our analysis on the DNS flow of the Windows clients, because we suspected a name resolution problem to be the origin of our problem. We got surprised: we could clearly 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 resource.
During this troubleshooting operation, we have used Performance Vision to gather information, validate or invalidate hypothesis. During the implementation of the new configuration, Performance Vision helped us drive our partner’s work and validate that the new parameters were actually 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 made these measures with Performance Vision and got “normal” EURT values for these two applications. Thus, we had a reference to see if the performance of them got degraded or improved over time.
Quickly we decided to systematically do the same for all applications. This measure which remains inside the IT department helps us compare an objective value to the feedback of users (which by definition are imprecise and subjective).
- 4TH PROJECT: RESOLUTION OF NETWORK DEGRADATION ON A REMOTE SITE
On one of our remote site, users were complaining about some application slowdowns. We placed the probe so that we could capture the traffic of their link: we instantly qualified the existence of bandwidth congestion and noticed that the resolutions of the DNS requests were slowed down on the network.
A few months before, 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 get back to the original solution and to place the servers on the remote site, which solved the quality of service issues at no cost.
After a few months of use, what is your feedback on Performance Vision?
We move the Performance Vision depending on our needs. We have a flight-case which enables us to do so in a safe way for the ten sites of the Chamber of Commerce. The probe helps us making good decisions on many issues and projects by providing us with genuine and objective data. We can immediately see where the problem comes from and how to solve it.
Since the first troubleshooting, Performance Vision proved to be efficient and the requests for analysis from the different entities of the Chamber have flowed. We have had to establish a planning to use the probe and share its use between the different groups. In the IT department, everyone is fully convinced of the return on investment of the probe.
In the future, we consider the installation of virtual probes to visualize the traffic between the different sites in a distributed solution.
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