Like most organisations, the council relies on its technology to deliver services to over 650,000 residents and 5,000 employees. However, when a random disconnect of some of their business-critical cloud applications began affecting productivity for dozens of users every day, they knew they would need to do some detective work to find the issue.
Ralph and his team enlisted the help of their business-critical applications provider to try to reproduce the error, but both were unsuccessful.
“The principal problem we found with trapping this error was the amount of data being seen,” says Ralph. “The only network tapping points that had low enough volumes of data were to the workstations, but due to having deployed IP telephony across the estate, even workstation network interfaces could have huge numbers of packets per day.”
The error itself also contributed to the difficulties. Although a transaction would abort, it wasn’t fatal. As a consequence the user could simply log back in and continue to work. Unfortunately, although it was an annoyance for most people, for one or two it became more problematic and confidence in the application functionality began to wane.
The council engaged with VIAVI Channel Partner, Open Reality to understand the various options within their budget to help find and fix the issue.
End users were told to report to Ralph and the team when they had a failure and from which PC the failure originated. Because a network address translation had occurred to both the send and receive addresses before the tapping point (all packets had the same source and destination addresses) Ralph had to use firewall logs to establish which transactions may have been involved. If the time given was reasonably accurate he expected to be able to find the transactions in error.
Results, Return on Investment and Future Plans
Ralph and his team are confident in the value of their purchase and the continued benefits of GigaStor.
“The principal benefit of Observer GigaStor is its ability to monitor and collect huge quantities of packets from even the busiest links,” says Ralph. “Combine this with the expert analysis features and the ability to zoom-in to the past and it’s easy to find and examine packets and transactions of interest.”
Comparing their new strategy to previous tools, the team at Leicestershire County Council can see increases to efficiency and happier end users.
“GigaStor has the power and capacity to enable monitoring of busy trunk links so that it does not impede the user, and as a consequence we are not adding insult to injury for the end user,” Ralph says. “It is much easier than traditional network sniffing.”
After the initial problem, Ralph and his team have leveraged the Observer Platform, GigaStor in particular, for ongoing, proactive monitoring, as well as post-event analysis.