Empowering CIO Offices through visibility of MITA Network Management Tools
Written by Christopher Gatt, Antoine Scicluna
MITA is the agency entrusted to provide IT services to various government ministries, departments and entities. MITA also needs to be pro-active and innovative in the services it offers to facilitate and empower CIO Offices in the tasks they need to carry out daily. Thus, the MITA Network Services team embarked on an initiative to give CIO Offices access to one of the main MITA monitoring tools to improve the capacity and availability monitoring that ministries can carry out on their network infrastructure.
The SolarWinds monitoring tool is crucial in our day to day operational tasks as it helps us to drill down to the root cause of a problem in the shortest time possible. It also provides the ability to keep an inventory of all network equipment in each ministry. Once the network device is added to the management tool, it is possible to determine more than just the health status of the device. Some of the parameters that one can check are the following:
- Latest or past backed up device configurations
- CPU and Memory usage
- Network Latency & Packet Loss
- Node details such as: Hardware Status (Up or Down), Manufacturer, Model, Serial Number and Last successful Polling from device towards SolarWinds, IP Address of device, Last Boot, etc…
Benefits from the CIO’s Perspective
Prior to this initiative, each ministry did not have a central view through which their network inventory can be viewed. This posed some limitations on ministries e.g. not being able to verify which network devices were being billed for in relation to maintenance and support and a lack of agility in carrying out first line troubleshooting when issues occurred in the various departments or entities. The MITA Network Services team addressed the limitations identified above in the following way.
- A custom view was created for each ministry such that the respective ministry personnel could only view their respective network devices. These include firewalls, routers and switches.
- A training session was organized for personnel within CIO Offices in order to explain the functionality of this custom view, how the view is structured and its capabilities. The feedback received was very positive since through this view, CIO Offices can instantly identify and see all the network devices that reside under their respective ministry.
- As part of the training session, the MITA Network Services team explained how this custom view can be utilised when a site reports an issue with connectivity.
Figure 2 – Network MAP showing which devices are connected directly to that switch (Uplinks to other switches)
Performing first line support
Prior to having access to the Solarwinds tool, personnel within CIO Offices contacted MITA to assist in the troubleshooting process whenever there was an issue within a site. Through Solarwinds access, it is now possible to immediately verify whether any switch, router or firewall is down or up. It is also possible to use the ‘search’ function to look up any network device under a specific ministry either by IP Address, name of device or other search criteria. This will drastically reduce the overall time taken from when the problem is reported, troubleshooting is carried out until appropriate resolution. All stakeholders benefit from this revised troubleshooting process being it MITA, CIO Offices or the end user, since root cause of the problem is identified much more quickly.
Statistics related to the SolarWinds implementation
The following are some interesting statistics related to MITA’s implementation of the SolarWinds network management tool.
- 3 Servers with High Availability
- 1 Database SQL Server
- Approx. 200Gb of configuration backups
- Monitoring of approx. 2000 LAN Switches
- Monitoring of approx. 600 Firewalls
- Monitoring of approx. 9000 Interfaces