Why Performance Vision ?
Jonathan Reginster: “Before implementing the PerformanceVision solution, we were repeatedly faced with user complaints; our teams often found them difficult to analyze (due to a total lack of visibility of network activity at remote sites) and resolve quickly (for want of a tool enabling them to quickly identify the source of performance degradations).
Questions such as “by which applications and which users is the network used? “, “do slowness problems really originate from the WAN? “, or “ should we therefore invest to increase capacity? “ remained unanswered.
Therefore, in 2014, we set a goal of deploying a network performance management solution and application that would meet the following objectives :
- Get a clear view of network resource usage (by which users, on what bandwidth, when, for which applications, etc.);
- Be able to identify degradations across all 80 sites and accelerate our capacity to solve any problem reported by users;
- Use a unified tool for better collaboration between network teams and systems teams on one hand, and the Province of Liège’s team and software publishers on the other hand.
While we were faced with a performance problem at our Malvoz site, we commissioned the Liège-based company abNETWORK, a specialist and longtime PerformanceVision partner, to perform a diagnostic procedure. One of our applications crashed in a totally random manner, making the analysis of this phenomenon very difficult.
We had already attempted to solve this problem by ourselves over several weeks, by analyzing the network with monitoring tools such as What’s Up Gold, Nagios or Wireshark, but none of them provided an adequate answer.
While the diagnostic procedure was focused on our Malvoz site, PerformanceVision quickly allowed us to identify a broader issue with the routing. A redistribution of BGP routes into EIGRP tables caused a definition of sub-optimal routes.
The analysis and conclusions provided by PerformanceVision confirmed our choice of this tool.“
Which solutions have you considered ?
Jonathan Reginster: “Today, we primarily use PerformanceVision to solve frequent problems in an environment of the size of the Province:
- Diagnostics: : In the event of user complaints, PerformanceVision allows us to quickly pinpoint the source of the problem (network, server, application, etc.). In this way, we make an informed decision on which of our internal teams to contact for a quick resolution of the problem; saving time for our teams and users is very important!
- Continuous monitoring of user performances: A daily report is created, which lets us view the constant evolutions of performance and user experience. If a degradation occurs, we can assess its severity, its duration and its impact on users (on which applications and which transactions)
Moving forward, our main goal will be to improve and optimize relevant monitoring based on the analyses that we carry out. The aim is to focus on specific matters based on events detected by PerformanceVision.
One recent example is a bandwidth usage report which showed us that a specific machine had generated a volume of 900 MB of traffic over a period of two hours. PerformanceVision allowed us to see that a WSUS server (Microsoft Windows update) had been down for several days. Upon restarting, the server performed a redistribution of updates to the entire IT infrastructure, thus generating this high and unexpected traffic. This incident, detected by our network monitoring tool, was highlighted by Performance Vision and is now motivating us to monitor this WSUS more closely.
The same applies to backup routines, some of which, when the scheduled automatic procedure fails, relaunch at inappropriate times (800 Mbps of network bandwidth used during peak office hours).
Philippe Pieters, Network Manager for the Province de Liège, adds: “In addition to giving us full visibility on network access to our datacenter and allowing us to solve performance issues more quickly, PerformanceVision allowed us to uncover other types of problems, such as a large number of DNS queries that were unsuccessful because the corresponding servers were no longer in operation, or configurations which had the side effect of causing a traffic “ping pong” towards one of our Cloud providers.
These analyzes carried out by PerformanceVision allowed us to correct and optimize a number of configurations.
It is also worth noting that we provide services to a wide variety of users. We must provide a quality service that meets their needs, while ensuring an optimal level of safety and services. PerformanceVision helps us meet these goals by providing us at all times with a clear view of our various applications’ behavior. Suspicious behavior with a potentially significant impact on the safety and quality of services is automatically detected and its analysis allows us to pinpoint its source and address it quickly.“
After having used the solution for several months, what is your assessment?
Jonathan Reginster: “After using PerformanceVision for a year and a half, the results are very positive. Several weaknesses in the design of our computer network were corrected thanks to the solution. For occasional performance issues, degradations experienced by users are objectified and a more accurate analysis allows us to quickly find their source in order to address them. In the future, PerformanceVision will allow us to be even more proactive and better target our improvement / optimization points.“
The deployment of larger scale Wi-Fi service and the implementation of BYOD ( “Bring Your Own Device”) will cause the number of network connections to skyrocket (at the moment, we already have an average of 800 simultaneous Wi-Fi connections).
In this context, we already know that PerformanceVision will be an essential tool in order to continue guaranteeing a good level of service to all our users.
Also, the evolution of our virtualized environment will soon lead us to consider extending the deployment of PerformanceVision.
Since PerformanceVision integrates natively and transparently within it, this extension would allow us to go even further in our application tests.“
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