UBC's Network Goes the Distance with Intermapper

Quality of Service (QoS) monitoring improves distance education


The University of British Columbia's Fraser Medical Program assigns students to local hospitals and clinics in remote areas. Instruction is delivered via video-conferencing. Maintaining accreditation requires that classes be delivered on time and that networked video-conferencing equipment is reliable and available. Intermapper maps network connections, monitors quality of service, and gives technicians in all locations the information they need to proactively maintain operations.

Medical Training Relies on Video-Conferencing

“We’re short of doctors in British Columbia, especially in northern communities,” said David Lampron, Technical Operations Manager for the Vancouver Fraser Medical Program at the University of British Columbia. That’s why medical students are distributed across Canada’s largest province to learn in hospital and clinical settings. It’s also why video-conferencing has become such a critical part of UBC’s educational delivery strategy.

Medical students and faculty rely on advanced video-conference lecture theaters for required classroom instruction. Given the number of people involved and the importance of maintaining a required schedule, there is no room for glitches.

“Classes have to be available,” said Dennis O’Reilly, Senior Network Analyst. “It would be a disaster to lose a connection.”

The Tool Users Need and Want

The University of British Columbia understands the importance of network monitoring in education. Having replaced HP Openview (Intermapper provides the functionality UBC requires at a fraction of the cost), they were already using Intermapper to point out potential problems across UBC’s vast network. “It’s the only monitoring tool we use,” says O’ Reilly. “We slice and dice the network in many ways using over 100 maps that monitor thousands of devices and Ethernet switches.”

It took less than three days to point Intermapper at UBC’s video-conference equipment: Tandberg and Polycom Codex boxes and their Ethernet switches. Cisco 2811 routers were attached to the same switches as the Codex boxes to facilitate IP SLA testing. O’Reilly also wrote an IP SLA probe (which is now available in Intermapper) to monitor and report on jitter, latency, and packet loss.

Network maps were created so that technicians in remote locations could see what was happening on their portions of the network. “Unlike a lot of other tools we have, we don’t have to convince people to use Intermapper,” said O’Reilly. “They gravitate to using it.”

Troubleshooting Network Problems Anywhere, Faster

Now, over 80 staff members use Intermapper Remote Access for real-time information on network performance and device status. “They typically blamed the network for problems that were usually caused by the video system,” said O’Reilly. “If they didn’t have access to Intermapper, I would have spent the rest of my life figuring out problems for them.”

UBC has expanded services into clinical locations throughout the province and dedicated monitors display Intermapper maps that cover the Fraser Medical Program’s network. “The probe delivers data that offers first-level troubleshooting capability in an environment where we have no administrative authority or control,” said Lampron.

O’Reilly says that UBC’s use of Intermapper has been a huge success. In fact, the $15 million project that connects three university centers and six health authorities is now being used as a case study for other universities. O’Reilly summed it up: “The feature set that Intermapper provides is the one most universities require in a network monitoring tool."

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