Case Study: University of California, Irvine

“Netreo is a highly reliable way of keeping track of the health of all of our infrastructure services. It allows us to quickly notice and respond to problems with our systems and our networks. Netreo is a real workhorse for us.”

— John Mangrich, Manager, Central Computing Services, Network and Academic Computing Services (NACS)
University of California Irvine

Netreo Helps IT Administrators at the University of California, Irvine Reduce the Cost and Complexity of Managing Campus-Wide Systems and Networks

Business Need

Founded in 1965, the University of California, Irvine is a major research university committed to cutting-edge research, teaching, learning and creativity. It’s among the fastest-growing campuses in the University of California system with more than 27,000 students, 1,100 faculty members and 9,200 staff members, making it Orange County’s largest employer and generating an annual economic impact $4.2 billion on the Southern California economy.

UCI is mostly a Cisco shop with central core routers, distribution routers, and a border router connecting dozens of campus buildings and offices to the outside world. Most of the network infrastructure on campus is operated and maintained by the University’s Network and Academic Computing Services (NACS) Group, which employs about 85 professionals.

As is common on academic campuses, NACS previously used shareware tools and homegrown solutions to monitor and manage campus systems, but senior IT managers determined that there were significant care and feeding costs and inconveniences associated with keeping those tools live, updated and relevant.

UCI needed to monitor more than 3,000 mission critical network components, including core routers, switches, distribution level routers and switches and wireless access points. As a result, they implemented Netreo as a more cost-effective solution.

IT Need

Netreo is used by a number of working groups across the campus, including Network Operations, Network and Support Programming, Central Computing Services, a contract support group for servers on campus, the educational learning management systems group, Web technologies, campus email delivery systems, directory services systems and a group that manages IT security.

NACS’ Manager of Central Computing Services, John Mangrich, indicated that Netreo is now used to monitor more than 3,000 mission critical network components, including core routers, switches, distribution level routers and switches and wireless access points.

“All of our system administrators use Netreo to monitor most of our servers and services. They get a heads up whenever something goes wrong and needs attention. Our network operations people use it to monitor network devices and all of our edge equipment. If anything stops responding or is responding improperly, Netreo raises alerts so that they can track down the problem,” Mangrich said.

UCI’s Director of Network Operations, Brian Buckler, described how Netreo is implemented in the network operation center.

“We call this facility our ‘Response Center.’ We have several large displays with various Netreo screens running 24×7 giving us instant views of all our network components. Then we have various threshold notifications set up for Netreo to page different sys admins or send emails to people responsible for various services.”

Faculty and staff members are highly dependent on the UCI network for connectivity and daily work productivity, and thus they can be significantly impacted by network performance issues. The work of students in the various campus computing labs would be affected if a portion of a network they were using went down.

“We also use Netreo to monitor our wireless access points,” Buckler added. “Everyone on campus, faculty, staff and students, use our wireless network, so it’s critical that we keep that monitored and maintained at all times.”

Netreo Solution

For budgetary planning and cost justifications, Buckler’s team relies on management information and metrics generated by Netreo.

“We use historical data from Netreo to analyze network traffic over time and do capacity planning. We watch for network bottlenecks, and, for example, we might look closely at a 100 meg uplink to see whether it’s time to replace a router or switch or upgrade to a gigabit or 10 gig uplink. This helps us justify new equipment purchases by using Netreo metrics as hard data to prove that we really have a pressing need,” Buckler said.

UCI’s investment in Netreo has produced noticeable performance improvements.

“It’s hard to assign an ROI dollar amount to improved productivity, client satisfaction and other soft factors in an academic environment. But we know for sure that Netreo adds a lot of value to the performance of our systems and networks. For decades, the only way we knew that a system was down was when a user reported it. But now, with Netreo, we’re instantly alerted to network problems and we can often get them resolved before our users notice that anything is wrong,” Buckler said.

Benefits to University of California, Irvine

  • Compared to other IT products evaluated, Netreo provides more operational flexibility, easier implementation and a better value for dollars invested.
  • 24x7x365 campus-wide monitoring of the up/down status of the entire network and 3,000 attached devices, including mission critical network components, core routers and switches, distribution level routers and switches, central e-mail services, central directory services, authentication services, VPN services, wireless access points, LAN servers, print servers and applications.
  • Network managers can use historical data tracked in Netreo to display capacity over time for capacity optimization and planning, and for troubleshooting if there’s an issue with any component or subsystem that affects any part of the network.
  • Finance people can review metrics provided by Netreo to perform cost-benefit analyses to justify new network equipment or service level upgrades.
  • While other network management platforms are very complicated, labor intensive, difficult to install and manage, Netreo is easy to implement and use by technical people across the campus.
  • Help desks, network operation centers and the technical response center have full time displays that continuously show network and device status.

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