University of Texas Relies on VisualPulse to Ensure Network Availability

Many people wouldn't think of universities as operating in a mission critical environment, but that is certainly the case. At the University of Texas (UT), Larry Leibrock, CTO at UT, is responsible for a number of enterprise servers that the University depends on for day-to-day operations and to support over 10,000 faculty and students.

Each University of Texas faculty member has 46 to 58 hours of contact classroom time, and much of their instruction is network based, even for non-technical classes. For instance, a particular lecture for a law class may focus on court cases that are on a server -- if that server does down or does not function correctly during the class, that educational opportunity is lost forever as the number of class hours is always limited. Education at the higher levels is dependent on having information available 24/7 and there are no excuses for latencies, errors or downed systems that disrupt a curriculum. Larry has come to rely on VisualPulse to watch the University's critical systems for any sign of trouble. VisualPulse provides automated monitoring and reporting of network device availability, and provides automated alerts to notify users of a potential problem. "Of the various products we evaluated, I immediately liked VisualPulse due to its intuitiveness and reliability. It is the equivalent of a CIO's EKG -- it tells me what the heartbeats are of my mission critical servers. I can access it from home or on the road and instantly see the network status -- it provides great peace of mind to always have that information at hand."

As Associate Dean of the Business School, Larry also teaches classes on networking and computer security. He utilizes VisualPulse to help students understand network management fundamentals, such as latency and packet loss reporting and how it affects network services. "What I like is that this tool can be explained to business managers and they can monitor their networks without worrying about the complexities that lie beneath."

According to Larry, recent events have underscored the fact that the Internet has become an essential emergency communications tool -- during the 9/11 attacks and more recent Columbia disaster, many students and faculty headed to their computers upon first hearing the news, in order to find information and to check on friends and family. "This reinforces how dependent we all for trustworthy operations of the Internet, and why my job of managing the infrastructure here is so exciting. I rely on VisualPulse to help keep our networks running smoothly. Reliable networks are no longer a 'nice to have' -- they are really central to the operation."

VisualPulse has proved quite useful to protect and monitor servers when under attack -- whether it be from a virus attack, DOS (denial of service), or some other malicious activity. "It acts as a Swiss Army knife to let you know what's going on with servers and networks", adds Larry. "I have used VisualPulse to make decisions to down a router due to suspect activity. In short, it allows us reliable visibility to what is going on."

Larry estimates that VisualPulse has saved him the equivalent of 1-2 full-time technology professionals, which is of great benefit as the number of IT projects is always longer the number of people available to do them. "At the end of the day, I can hire more people, or give them tools to be more effective. I prefer to make them more effective as it pays higher dividends in the long run."

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