Orange County Public Schools
Orange County, Florida
Located in Florida, Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) is the 10th largest school district in the United States and fourth largest in Florida, with more than 22,000 teachers and administration staff serving nearly 200,000 students at 184 schools. In addition to architecting and provisioning the school districts robust network, the OCPS network services team must ensure the smooth operation of Student Information Systems (SIS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications that support mission critical instructional and administrative processes. The OCPS network team needed an effective way to not only identify issues and troubleshoot them more quickly, they also needed a way to monitor the network and anticipate potential issues before they occurred.
TruView's ability to drill down into a flow–based analysis or packet decode of application traffic as it streams live across the OCPS network is one of the features most valued by the network services team. Using historical data for the schools' applications, network and system, the team was able to identify healthy service benchmarks they could then use to set realistic and customizable performance thresholds. Once those were established, the team began continuous bandwidth monitoring to learn which protocols or applications use the most bandwidth. This has enabled the team to isolate and resolve the root cause of any new problems very quickly.
Any time there was degradation or some kind of performance issue, people would point the finger at the network rather than the application or the system. This could add days or even weeks before we could properly address the problem. TruView makes it possible to isolate issues between multiple components, while the dashboard menus allow users to get where they need to be in just one or two clicks. — Myron Bryant, Assistant Director of Network Services for Orange County Public Schools
Located in Florida, Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) is the 10th largest school district in the US, with more than 22,000 teachers and administration staff serving nearly 200,000 students at 184 schools, from elementary age through high school.
OCPS prides itself on its track record of academic achievement and fiscal responsibility; managing its budget to maximize services that bring benefit to students, spending the vast majority of every dollar on teaching, transporting, supervising or counseling students.
The burden on the OCPS network has grown rapidly over the last decade. In addition to keeping the Student Information System (SIS) and other dedicated education systems used by the faculty, the network services team at OCPS is also responsible for the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Human Resource applications that support numerous administrative functions. In the last few years, OCPS has also deployed approximately 20,000 VoIP phones to the district-wide network.
"OCPS operates the largest network in central Florida with a lot of complex applications competing for bandwidth. Any kind of delay or performance issues need to be resolved quickly so that students and our operations are not adversely affected," said Myron Bryant, assistant director of Network Services for Orange County Public Schools.
In the past, when any slowdown occurred, the network services team relied on traditional network analyzers to test bandwidth utilization. These tools helped to some degree, but they weren't sophisticated enough to identify the specific applications using the most bandwidth, and they couldn't drill down to see which specific devices were causing a bandwidth drain. OCPS realized that network performance issues were taking too long to diagnose and resolve.
"Any time there was degradation or some kind of performance issue, people would point the finger at the network, rather than the application or the system," said Bryant. "It could often take days or even weeks before the problem was properly identified, and even longer to come up with a solution. This was causing frustration and backlogs that needed radical change."
Being responsible for such a critical part of OCPS' success, the Network Services team evaluated several network and application monitoring tools before implementing TruView.
One of the biggest benefits of TruView to the Network Systems team comes from its ability to record, identify, and analyze live network traffic to determine the root cause of network and application problems. TruView provides an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that quickly helps users solve application problems with quantifiable data.
A screen in Bryant's office constantly displays the TruView dashboard, giving him an instant application–centric summary view of how each of the most commonly used applications throughout the district's schools are performing.
"Anyone with a technical background will find the TruView interface intuitive," said Bryant. "The tools make it possible to isolate issues between multiple components, while the dashboard menus allow users to get where they need to be in just one or two clicks."
"Whenever our users encounter connectivity degradation or performance issues, we now have the ability to say whether it's a network problem, an application problem or a system problem," continued Bryant. "By using TruView, we can measure performance or monitor delays to pinpoint precisely where a problem lies. We have more than 200 employees trained to use various aspects of TruView, and we have first–line support at every school. This all comes together to help us mobilize the right group of people to fix problems in the shortest timeframe possible."
"With the district's focus on expanding its digital curriculum — aiming to give every student access to their own computer — the network services team knew a lot of bandwidth would be consumed," concluded Bryant. "The question for us was always how much, and at what times. Having implemented TruView, we've been able to drastically reduce the time needed to resolve trouble tickets. We can prepare our network capacity according to busy periods, such as state testing cycles, when everyone is connecting to the network at once. TruView has been an amazing tool for us."