Paessler helps Tri-County Technical College ensure 24/7 access to education for 6,000+ students
Real-Time data and automatic alerts save time and hassle
At Tri-County Technical College (TCTC) in Pendleton, SC more than 6,000 full-time students and some 400 staff members depend on the college’s IT infrastructure for more than just the convenience of online researching and e-mail communications. Like many other institutions of higher education, TCTC has transformed from providing only traditional on-site learning opportunities to a 24/7 educational environment where distance learning, satellite classrooms and faculty-built online applications tax the college’s IT network.
As its Internet-dependent programs grew, demand on the college’s network began to overwhelm its available bandwidth, spawning outages at peak times of the day. To get a handle on campus-wide usage patterns and prevent outages before they occur, the TCTC IT team turned to Paessler’s PRTG network monitor to keep an eye on mission-critical IT systems and alert them in the event of a problem.
"Before PRTG, we tried some open source solutions, but they just weren’t as compatible with all of our systems, nor did they provide the level of support we needed,” said Matt Edwards, IT operations manager at TCTC. “PRTG provides the extra set of eyes on the network that we need with a small IT staff. By providing us with instant notifications in the event of a problem, it helps us to quickly diagnose and determine the impact of events on the network."
With approximately 800 PRTG sensors deployed across the network, the TCTC IT team can now view both real-time and trending data for bandwidth demand, traffic patterns and server performance at a glance. Network data is displayed in an easy-to-use web-based dashboard interface that is accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection. A customizable notification system delivers warnings and outage alerts via e-mail, SMS or pager to enable faster troubleshooting for reduced downtime on the network.
"The ability to remotely troubleshoot and evaluate the impact of network events saves us a lot of time and trouble," Edwards said. "I can check in from home during the weekend, and if there’s a problem, assess the situation before jumping in the car to go to the office."
Custom reports keep ‘customers’ informed
Edwards says PRTG provides a more robust and flexible reporting system to meet their needs than other monitoring solutions. Numerous TCTC faculty members run individual websites or web-based applications – including administering online tests and exams to their students. With PRTG, the IT team can configure and automatically deliver performance reports for these “customers’” applications, so they can better understand their bandwidth consumption and verify up-time.
"This is especially helpful for online classroom situations – the days of ‘the dog ate my homework’ are over," Edwards quipped. "Our PRTG reports show instructors if and when there was an outage on their system, so student excuses like 'I couldn’t get on the site' can be verified or debunked with the network status report."
In addition to monitoring critical network traffic and bandwidth usage, TCTC has also deployed PRTG probes to monitor temperature and humidity in critical wiring closets, voltage levels in UPS battery backups and power supplies. Data from PRTG has actually aided TCTC’s physical plant in troubleshooting power outages and surges and HVAC unit malfunctions.
Complete package at affordable price
Overall, Edwards says the polish of the product is evidenced by the thoughtful and user-friendly design of the PRTG dashboard that puts a snapshot of system information right at your fingertips. In fact, the dashboard is so effective that a monitor in the hallway outside the IT department displays the real-time PRTG dashboard to allow team members to see the network at a glance, monitor bandwidth usage and watch for signs of trouble.
"The price of the product is also very competitive," he said. "Other monitoring solutions might offer similar functionality, but they are much more expensive – and in education, keeping costs low is always an issue."