Academy watches net grow with PRTG network monitor

30 May 2014

Oxford Spires Academy (OSA) opened in 2011 to primarily serve the east of the city, and now has 800 pupils aged 7-14, and employs116 staff. A major hardware upgrade revealed the limitations of the network monitoring tool it was using.

“As our infrastructure became larger and more sophisticated, it was increasingly hard to keep a handle on exactly what was going on in the network,” says James Preston, OSA’s ICT network manager.

“In addition to nine brand new IT labs, we have been gradually equipping all of the classrooms with smart boards and ensuring that all the teachers have mobile access to our ICT services through a tablet or a laptop. In addition, the school was adding new multifunction printers and IP-enabled phones.

OSA found that its existing network monitor didn’t have the features needed to do the job with the new systems. Preston says he’d heard about Paessler’s PRTG and decided to investigate it.

“We could tell immediately that there was a lot more of the detail we needed. After switching to PRTG, we were able to monitor all of our network devices for any information we wanted.”

He explains that PRTG allows the school to provide pupils with remote access to upload homework and see lessons online. “Network monitoring is really important in this new setup. PRTG acts as a status dashboard which allows us to check up on the network in near realtime, picking up on potential problems before they happen so any disruption to the intranet is minimised.”

It has also exposed bottlenecks, which resulted in fibre replacing some copper cables, and new time of day usage patterns. “We can now have just the right capacity, rather than paying too much for what we don’t need or risking downtime by having too little,” says Preston.

PRTG is also monitoring paper levels in printers, allowing better stock control. OSA now plans to monitor the health of internal email clients and to integrate Paessler’s platform with its Microsoft service manager system to give it a central location to monitor all its service tickets.

“PRTG has been an invaluable tool for monitoring the infrastructure that, when combined with its network maps, can really change the way you see your network and how it operates,” concludes Preston.