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How the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Uses PathSolutions For Network Troubleshooting

SM SBMAlogo useStep inside of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA), and you’ll find no shortage of retinal delights. A 65,000 square foot facility (20,000 square feet of gallery space) originally built in 1914 to house the Santa Barbara Post Office, the building now boasts several exhibition galleries with works ranging from Claude Monet to Albert Bierstadt. In addition to its multiple galleries, the non-profit Museum also includes a full auditorium, an 11,000 square foot off-site education center, a café and a store.

The selection is enough to make any art lover swoon; but one of the most impressive parts of the Museum is actually invisible to the public eye.

We’re talking of course about the network that keeps over 400 devices in the organization connected. It’s a system that was pieced together on a makeshift basis, as the building grew over the years and new wings were added on to the original foundation of the post office. Now, like most organizations, the majority of central processes in the Museum run through this network.

The network’s ad hoc nature was one of the main challenges facing IT Director Joe Price when he began working with the Museum about 10 years ago. Besides a lack of manpower in his tiny IT department, Price was tasked with an overall lack of visibility as to where all his network devices were located. As a result, this made troubleshooting very difficult.

At first, Price was forced to take a reactive approach to each problem. As Price explained during a recent interview, this initial lack of visibility is what led him to PathSolutions’ TotalView software. Two years ago, Price was upgrading to a Barracuda VoIP system, when he realized he had no way of understanding where voice traffic was flowing across his network. Price realized he needed a way to map out all of his different ports, and gain real-time visibility. While Price had access to competing network troubleshooting software, it was too slow and resource-intensive to provide the real-time feedback he was looking for.

“Before PathSolutions, I had to log into every switch, and look at Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) neighbors to figure out where everything was going,” he said. “It was a whole day project.”

Price discovered PathSolutions root-cause troubleshooting solution at Interop 2014. Initially, he was drawn to the fact that PathSolutions allows for proactive troubleshooting, through the use of lightweight, stripped-down coding. The software is able to scan his network and provide near-real time performance feedback. Using the software’s network health report, Price is able to access everything he needs to identify and resolve network issues before they lead to system downtime, which frees him up tremendously.

“It allows me to focus my day on other tasks,” he explained. “Now I don’t have to focus so much on the network anymore. It’s more about using the network.”

As an example of how PathSolutions saves time, he explained how he uses the system’s built-in device identification tool to locate critical information about individual network components like MAC and IP addresses. This helps him locate suspicious network activity, and gain a better understanding of where packets are moving across his network.

Price also mentioned how PathSolutions has helped expedite processes like VLAN tagging, and identify connections that are running at half duplex. He also mentioned how the software sends him daily reports about interfaces with high error rates, as well as those being hindered with issues like jitter and packet loss.

What can we learn from this case study? The key takeaway is that using PathSolutions, your network can gain access to a solution that will constantly scan your network for problems; you can increase the scope of your IT team and perform root-cause network troubleshooting without having to go over budget.

Click here for more information on PathSolutions’ TotalView software.

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