Polytech Montpellier has chosen the ServiceNav solution to supervise its information system and educational applications, used daily by 1500 students and 200 agents and professors.
Supervising an increasingly complex and heterogeneous network and information system
Polytech Montpellier, the University Polytechnic School of Montpellier is the engineering school of the University of Montpellier. Created more than 40 years ago, it is part of one of the largest networks of engineering schools in France, the POLYTECH network: 10,000 engineers trained every year.
In order to fulfil its teaching missions, the pedagogical applications used by the teachers during the courses and practical work must be available. In this context, the IT department's mission is to guarantee the reliability and availability of the information system.
"We have more and more servers, more and more applications and more and more sources of failure. Today, we have more than 70 educational applications on our infrastructure and we also manage management applications (messaging, ERP). It was becoming urgent for us to deploy a tool to help us manage this growth and increase the reliability of our information system," explains Pascal Lepinay, Head of Information System at Polytech Montpellier. ServiceNav was installed in 2014 to supervise the network, the physical servers and storage, the HyperV virtualization base, the SQL and Oracle databases and the applications.
"We have a strong constraint, which is to ensure the availability of educational applications during class hours. When a course does not take place this is penalizing for students and teachers, it will be difficult to reposition the course because of the unavailability of the rooms and the students' schedule" explains Pascal Lepinay.
"Recently, we had the case of a teacher who could not connect to his application 5 minutes before the beginning of his lesson. Before the teacher came to us we had a ServiceNav alert on about ten servers that were no longer accessible. We were able to quickly analyze that it was one of the hosts on our virtualization system that had lost its network connection. We were able to repair it and the course went normally. Without ServiceNav, we would have been left with authentication and domain controller problems, I estimate that it would have taken us an hour to an hour and a half to find the problem. The course would not have been able to take place," explains Pascal Lepinay. ServiceNav provides a real-time status of the information system. "If a connection, server or application goes down, we can see it immediately," explains Pascal Lepinay.
The right information at the right time to the right person.
"The simple and intuitive configuration of ServiceNav allows us to have the right information at the right time. Each person in the service receives SMS and e-mail messages on their area of responsibility, which allows us to intervene and resolve problems quickly" explains Pascal Lepinay. ServiceNav allows us to identify abnormal behaviour on the system, such as database sizing or abnormal memory consumption. "My teams work more on the cause of the problem and its resolution than on handling calls from disgruntled teachers and users. »
A collaborative tool for the IT team.
"In order to ensure adoption of the product, we have implemented the project in several stages. The first step was the configuration and knowledge transfer done by Com6, our integrator. Then, we explained and demonstrated the contribution of supervision to each collaborator for his daily work. Today, the solution is operated by my team. Two IT people are in charge of supervision and the rest of the team is alerted in case of a malfunction within its perimeter. We have more productive exchanges and discussions thanks to the factual data and history provided by ServiceNav. This allows us to be more effective in identifying the cause of problems.
The choice of a commercial solution rather than Open Source
"We chose ServiceNav for several reasons. ServiceNav is based on Nagios, to simplify I would say that ServiceNav is Nagios++. Com6 our integrator uses the solution to manage and supervise its clients and its datacenter. This has confirmed the durability of the solution. We didn't want to fix and maintain an Open Source solution, I prefer that our resources are rather focused on solving problems on our infrastructure than on solving bugs on a software we don't master. I would add that we have discovered the value of having preconfigured models. We use the repositories, the knowledge of the editor on the behavior and the thresholds to set up. This forces us to analyze and question the behavior of our system. »
"To conclude, ServiceNav gives us the necessary serenity to manage and operate our information system on a daily basis. When a user calls for a malfunction we are already aware of it and we are already working on the resolution. This allows us to professionalize and enhance the value of Polytech Montpellier's IT team".