How Decatur City Schools Manages Their Growing Network with Intermapper


Through the years, there have been a lot of network changes at Decatur City Schools, a school district located in north Alabama. But one thing has remained constant, their reliance on Intermapper, the network monitoring solution from Fortra.

“Before Intermapper, we didn’t have any insight into what was up and what was down,” said Gary Cloer, Decatur City Schools network specialist. “We were relying on phone calls and paper work orders.”


Network Monitoring for Growing Networks

In 2003, the school district first started using Intermapper. District sites were using interconnected ISDN, and they only ran simple maps to monitor the status of core services—up, down, good, or bad. As their network grew, they switched over to fiber and hired more staff.

That’s when they really took a closer look at Intermapper’s capabilities to get better visibility into what was going on with the network. They started monitoring bandwidth to ensure no particular school was hogging too much. And when they upgraded their network to put in Cisco switches and other infrastructure, Intermapper grew with them again and started monitoring the new equipment as well. And then again when they later converted to Aruba enterprise networking software.

Now, the IT team at Decatur City Schools monitors 26 facilities total throughout the district. There are over 970 access points mapped out on a fully customized map with an overlay of the city. “Every server, every switch. Thousands of devices,” Gary said. “If it has an IP address, other than a workstation, I’m monitoring it.”

Proactive Network Monitoring

The network at Decatur City Schools is comprised of mostly virtual servers, but there are a few physical servers. Before Intermapper, if a problem occurred, Gary would have to travel to each server location and figure out what went wrong, and where, before he could even think about fixing a problem.

“Intermapper helped me get to a point where I was proactive,” Gary said. “I could already have a tech enroute before the school even knew there was a problem.” Custom alerts notify the team the moment an issue arises, and with comprehensive live network mapping, they can go right where they need to without spending precious time on detective work.

“The live maps help show me that if I have an access point dropping packets because it's overwhelmed, I can make adjustments on the fly,” Gary said. “Intermapper has saved us from so much downtime from core service stuff to DNS. I know immediately DNS is down before anybody even notices anything.”

Plus, with a network sprawled across an entire city, Intermapper Remote Access helps the team keep a pulse on their network’s health from anywhere. “Without being able to dive in and delve deep this quickly, I would have to have so many extra people,” Gary said. “It's like having two extra people.”

Network Optimization

The Decatur City Schools network isn’t done growing. This time, the team is working on upgrading to a Dell Hyperconverged system. Tasked with a tight time frame of less than 15 days to stand up the server room, Gary knows he has the best tool to get the job done.

“Intermapper is going to be a big part of getting us up and running,” Gary said. “I’m going to let Intermapper help me optimize the system in our new place.” He’ll also use Intermapper to monitor both sites as they build out, ensuring there is minimal interruption to service throughout the project. Making the transition as smooth as possible.

While the infrastructure, devices, and systems may change, one thing is consistent—Intermapper is the MVP of the Decatur City Schools network. Just ask Gary: “If Intermapper goes, I do, too.”

What Could Intermapper Do For Your School?

See Intermapper in action and talk to a network monitoring expert about how network monitoring could benefit your educational institution.