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Delivering a high performing network at the lowest possible cost

For the City of Winter Park in Florida, a high performing network ensures that day-to-day operations run smoothly and emergencies are responded to quickly. It’s up to Parsram Rajaram, Winter Park’s IT Manager, and his team to keep the network running. “Not just running,” said Rajaram, “but operating at optimal performance. It’s a constant balancing act between cost and performance which is why we selected TotalView for VoIP Networks to monitor and manage our network.”

Challenge: Monitoring and managing an extensive city-wide VoIP network supporting more than 21 locations at the lowest possible cost while delivering optimal performance.

Solution: TotalView for VoIP Networks

Result: Continuous monitoring, fast issue identification and resolution, lower infrastructure and resource costs.

Continuous Monitoring, Quickly Identifying and Resolving Issues

It all began with a network issue that was causing a performance problem. Rajaram’s network engineer had spent more than 16 hours trying to isolate the problem and time was becoming a critical factor. The team decided to use TotalView to try and identify the problem. “We installed TotalView in less than 5 minutes; and 20 minutes later, the problem my network engineer had been working on for days was discovered and, using TotalView’s Prescription Engine’s recommendations, fixed,” said Rajaram.

Today, Winter Park’s network IT team uses TotalView to continuously monitor its network via the Daily Weather Report. This report identifies the top network issues and recommends fixes for those issues. “It’s the first report my network engineer looks at in the morning and it governs what he needs to do for that day,” said Rajaram. “The report enables us to be proactive about the network—addressing and fixing issues before they become problems.”

Rajaram also uses the TotalView’s Call Simulator to ensure the quality of VoIP calls and understand when and where they begin to degrade. “If you are accessing an application or the Internet and the network slows down, you may not even notice it” said Rajaram. “VoIP calls, however, are different. If the call is breaking up, you notice it right away and it can have a tremendous impact on your ability to do your job. With the Call Simulator, we are able to simulate any number of calls and monitor the quality of those calls as well as identify whether our network is causing the problem and if so, what we need to do to fix that problem. We are also able to look out of our network to our carrier and beyond—this helps us to quickly pinpoint the problem and then work with our carrier to resolve it.”

A Wide and Diverse Technology Infrastructure

The City of Winter Park’s technology infrastructure includes a modern data network, voice-over IP telecommunication network, wireless voice and data network, and control data network for Electric and water operations. There are more than 500 users on the city network, with over 1,000 pieces of equipment valued at more than 3 million dollars, including one IBM I series server, 40 Cisco Catalyst switches, 25 Cisco routers, one Cisco ASA security device, and over 50 Microsoft Windows Servers.

Managing for the Future—Cost Versus Performance

Winter Park, like most cities, is feeling the impact of the economic downturn. They are constantly challenged to do more with less while providing the same level of service. With TotalView, Rajaram is able to justify less expensive infrastructure changes that can deliver similar or better performance. For example, Winter Park recently moved from a hosted T1 solution to Metro Ethernet based on TotalView’s historical and peak usage reports. Using them, Rajaram demonstrated that Metro Ethernet would provide Winter Park with better performance at a lower cost.

Rajaram considers one of the most important aspects of his job is to “squeeze the juice out of everything.” His group supports the Public Safety Technology infrastructure; including Computer-aided Dispatch, Records Management Systems, EMS systems and mobile laptops for the police and fire-rescue departments; the city network and personnel 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the city’s technology infrastructure, Blackberry devices, and VPN access; in total, the Winter Park network supports more than 21 locations. “In today’s current economic climate, TotalView enables me to deliver a high performing network at the lowest possible cost. At both a macro and micro level, I am able to see what impacts network performance and make the appropriate tradeoffs. This ensures that my users are able to satisfactorily perform their jobs while I stay within a very challenging budget from both an operational and resource point-of-view,” said Rajaram.