Accelerating Digital Transformation without Sacrificing Visibility at Val Verde Unified School District
Case Study Overview
From just a small schoolhouse in Riverside County, CA, the award winning Val Verde Unified School District now encompasses 22 schools and services more than 20,000 students. An enterprise IT infrastructure of this size sprawls across multiple campuses and thousands of diverse devices, from individual student laptops to server racks. Managing an IT infrastructure of this magnitude is not easy, especially when normal IT service processes such as root cause analysis, device onboarding and offboarding, and ticket resolution need to cause as little disruption as possible.
Prior to adopting Netreo, Val Verde’s IT team faced network monitoring challenges commonly seen in growing enterprise IT environments. The most prominent of these challenges was a lack of shared visibility resulting from a mix of disparate monitoring tools. Additionally, due to licensing constraints from existing vendors, the Val Verde team was forced to pick and choose which resources in their environment were most important to monitor which led to additional gaps in visibility.
“As an IT department, you get tired of finding out something is down because the phone starts ringing off the hook and users are angry … we really needed a system that gave us a holistic view of our entire environment and allowed us to be more proactive,” explained Matt Penner, Director of IT at Val Verde. Following an extensive evaluation of monitoring vendors, Penner and his team determined that Netreo was the perfect fit based on the solution’s simple, flexible licensing model and ability to provide comprehensive views into the entire IT environment.
The Netreo Solution
After implementing Netreo, Val Verde had a unified, holistic view of the infrastructure supporting the district. “Netreo had a great, flexible pricing model that allowed us to monitor anything and everything. If we wanted to monitor a server and a switch, we could monitor everything instead of picking and choosing which components we needed to monitor,” said Penner.
Currently, nearly every resource that is plugged into the district’s network is monitored, including network devices, virtual machines, SQL databases, UPSs, access points, and security cameras. The IT team now has access to each device’s performance metrics and alerts in a single, easy to navigate management console. As a result, incident resolution time has drastically decreased and service disruptions have become rare.
Val Verde has experienced myriad benefits since its initial implementation of Netreo in both IT and the business as a whole, both expected and unexpected. “An investment in IT is an investment in your business. Every department is critical, but IT is one of the few that touches everybody. Our department has been positioned in a way with leadership that if you invest in tools and training for IT, the return on that for the business will be 10-fold. Netreo has helped make that a reality,” said Penner.
As a result of switching to Netreo, the district’s IT operations have shifted from being reactive to proactive, incident resolution time has drastically decreased, and service disruptions have become rare. The infrastructure overview and streamlined alert system provided by Netreo enables the team to be on top of any problems and solve them before they cause service disruptions. Continuous trends reporting helps the team identify problems that may seem random when they occur but have a consistent underlying cause. “Being reactive is a really difficult way to run a business or operation. With the alerting and dashboards provided by Netreo, we can be more proactive, see trends, and address potential issues before they become a bigger problem. That’s the best way to work,” explained Brian Falk, Network Services Manager.
Netreo has also made device onboarding considerably easier. As soon as a device enters the network, possible conflicts are identified and solved before disruptions occur. Since Netreo has been implemented, thousands of devices have been onboarded into the network with ease, and Val Verde has been on a steady path towards digital transformation.
Addressing COVID and a Remote Workforce
Both teachers and IT have been pulled through the ringer throughout the course of the pandemic, but that hasn’t meant providing a quality education and keeping core business services running could fall by the wayside. The move to remote work and education required Val Verde to undergo major network upgrades and move resources to the cloud much sooner and faster than planned. “I don’t think we could have moved as quickly as we did without the confidence of knowing Netreo would alert us that something was down and help us resolve those hiccups as soon as possible,” explained Penner.
Training and Trusted Advisor Services
Consulting budgets are hard to come by and justify at educational institutions, and Netreo’s Trusted Advisor Services (TAS) helped Val Verde cost-efficiently speed their time-to-value. TAS includes enhanced support and engineering services that helped Val Verde fully utilize the Netreo tool without having to justify and pay for extensive consulting. Val Verde also took advantage of online training instead of paying high prices for extensive training hours.
Additionally, the Val Verde team doesn’t have time to be 24×7 Netreo experts, and they don’t have to be with Trusted Advisor Services. The IT team has the peace of mind knowing that a Netreo Engineer is always watching their system and identifying ways for them to improve their use of Netreo, plus the ongoing cadence of Trusted Advisor Service meetings allows for those improvements to be implemented on a regular basis.
Microsoft 365 Insight
The Val Verde team needed a better way to identify the performance and availability of their Microsoft 365 subscription, and Netreo’s Microsoft 365 Insight add-on feature allows them to do so. “In the past, we relied on sites like DownDetector to see if there was an issue with third-party applications. I don’t want to wait until there’s 1400 responses on DownDetector to know that a site is down. I want to know immediately, and Microsoft 365 Insight does that for me,” said Falk.
Beyond downtime detection, the Microsoft 365 Insight add-on also provides insight into licensing utilization and storage capacity. These features enable the Val Verde team to ensure they aren’t overpaying for unused Microsoft 365 licenses and stay ahead of potential storage issues when they see a spike in utilization.