The KRZ in Lemgo monitors
IT infrastructures with PRTG
About the KRZ
With headquarters in Lemgo and more than 220 employees, the KRZ (“Kommunales Rechenzentrum” or “Municipal Data Center”) has been the IT service provider for municipalities in the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region of Germany for more than 40 years. Some of the main tasks of the KRZ include the full and seamless integration of data into operations, the launch and maintenance of traditional municipal applications, and the professional operation of the data center. In addition to software applications, the KRZ offers network and PC hardware as well as a variety of different services (for example, consulting, training, installation, maintenance, and support).
The KRZ is based in Lemgo, an “Old Hanseatic City” with a storied past as part of a merchant alliance, the Hanseatic League. Centuries later, the KRZ upholds the city’s long-standing tradition of combining forces to succeed. After all, when it comes to monitoring its IT infrastructure, its IT team is squarely backed by the network monitoring software PRTG Network Monitor from Paessler AG.
By monitoring its infrastructure continuously, the Ostwestfalen service provider ensures its software applications remain available for the nearly 10,000 connected end devices under its charge.
Since 1971, the KRZ has been the IT service provider for the districts of Minden-Lübbecke, Herford, and Lippe, as well as for 34 other cities and municipalities in these districts. In order to relieve employees and offer customers and residents the best possible service, municipalities and public authorities are outsourcing more and more services to the internet as e-government applications.
The KRZ currently provides support to around 7,600 PC workstations with more than 10,000 end devices. Part of this support involves the provision of a wide range of software applications, or so-called “processes.” The primary processes of the KRZ include general administration (passport and motor vehicle services), human resources, finance, technical administration, document management, and e-government applications.
With the onset of online applications, new demands have been made on IT: highly sensitive data must be managed reliably, and made available to customers both quickly and error-free, 24/7, 365 days per year. Internal administration is also switching more and more to electronic processes. In order for business operations to stay unaffected, these processes must always be running smoothly.
How do you best monitor a complex technical infrastructure?
The KRZ must take great care to ensure its information and communication technologies are always available and secure. Its certification by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) demonstrates just how seriously the organization takes this commitment: the KRZ is the first municipal service provider in Germany to be granted ISO 27001 certification based on its overall IT security. In February 2014, the KRZ successfully completed its 2nd surveillance audit, a kind of annual interim audit.
“In addition to the outstanding sensor customization possibilities, we were impressed by the simple use of the tool, as well as the service and support provided by Paessler, who answered all our inquiries immediately.”
Marcel Kerstingjohänner, Technology and Infrastructure Manager at the KRZ
The audit not only covered individual processes and areas of IT, but the entire organization of the data center: in other words, all the center’s operations, all the applications used by the KRZ itself or made available to customers, and all IT systems, including the required data center infrastructure. The scope of the audit was therefore enormous.
ISO 27001 certification based on overall IT security
This certification, awarded by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), serves as proof that the KRZ meets specific IT security requirements. In order for an organization to be awarded an ISO 27001 certificate, an auditor (certified by the BSI) must first evaluate the organization’s IT security. The auditor examines the relevant documents prepared by the organization, performs an on-site audit, and draws up an audit report. The BSI reviews this report in accordance with the specific IT requirements, then decides whether to award the ISO 27001 certificate.
Precise analyses of bandwidth usage (and the like)
In order to ensure that its processes are available around the clock, the Lemgo-based IT service provider also uses PRTG Network Monitor developed by Paessler AG. PRTG was customized to meet the needs of the KRZ and now plays a central role in the end-to-end monitoring of the data center. In addition to the IT infrastructure (parts of which are virtualized), the software also monitors data related to the air temperature, electricity, water, and heating in facilities. While monitoring IT, PRTG collects various usage data from selected applications, devices, and computers.
With this data, the IT team can monitor uptime, downtime, applications, virtual servers, and bandwidth usage (based on SNMP, WMI, NetFlow, sFlow, and packet sniffing). If a malfunction/failure occurs or a predefined threshold value is exceeded, PRTG sounds the alarm via email, SMS, or the app. The KRZ service desk is therefore alerted and can take appropriate countermeasures immediately, even if the experts have not yet arrived at the scene. What’s more, thanks to comprehensive PRTG reports, the IT team can look at past data and perform IT-related analyses.
- 220 servers for various processes and services (MS terminal server farm, driver’s license system, motor vehicle system, human resources, web, firewall, print, and much more)
- 27 VMware ESX host servers for server virtualization with around 650 virtualized systems (105 virtual images)
- 8 blade enclosures (81 blade servers)
- SAN environment with approx. 320 TB of mirrored usage data
- Connected with 72 local government/third-party users
- Network with approx. 550 km of cables (leased)
- 7,000 workstations connected directly to the network
- 90 VPN connections to remote offices
Custom monitoring points
PRTG comes with more than 200 types of monitoring points, or “sensors.” Among other things, these include sensors for monitoring bandwidth via SNMP and the availability of a device via ping. Other sensors send complex queries to SQL servers, monitor the entire send/receive cycle of an email, or monitor the quality of VoIP.
PRTG also allows for the quick and easy creation of “custom sensors” tailored to the specific monitoring needs of individual customers. These custom sensors, in particular, played a major role in the KRZ’s decision to go with PRTG.
Compliance with internal security guidelines
In addition to monitoring systems, PRTG helps the KRZ comply with its main security objectives. These objectives are designed to ensure the continuity of workflows, as well as a high level of reliability in terms of integrity, confidentiality, and availability. The IT team achieves the objectives by way of continual monitoring (and long-term infrastructural optimizations based on this monitoring).
PRTG also helps preserve the value invested in the technology, information, and work processes at the KRZ, and safeguard the high, potentially irreplaceable value of the processed data. In addition, thanks to its comprehensive and non-stop monitoring, PRTG can send prompt alerts and allow for quick troubleshooting.
“We use PRTG as a centralized monitoring tool for our IT infrastructure,” explains Marcel Kerstingjohänner, Technology and Infrastructure Manager at the KRZ.
“In particular, the software’s custom sensors are ideal for our needs. We’ve already installed several thousand sensors that monitor the system status of our servers or the status of our VPN connections, among other things. With the help of PRTG, our IT team was also able to fix errors in our DNS cluster. In addition to the outstanding sensor customization possibilities, we were impressed by the simple use of the tool, as well as the service and support provided by Paessler, who answered all our inquiries immediately.”
Currently, around 30% of all residents in North Rhine-Westphalia are serviced by municipalities that use processes provided by the KRZ. For the local authorities, it would be unthinkable to process highly sensitive data without a high-performance and error-free IT infrastructure. For the KRZ, this makes it all the more important that their processes always be up and running smoothly. The KRZ service desk therefore also relies on network monitoring with PRTG. PRTG keeps a constant eye on the entire infrastructure.
The service desk team uses PRTG monitoring data to view the current status of the system, as well as to identify trends and make appropriate inquiries, such as when bandwidth usage increases suddenly and significantly. Thanks to PRTG, the KRZ can keep its services available for customers, quickly take targeted action in the event of an incident, and offer timely solutions as needed.