AIB and Crannog get the best of both worlds
According to Michael O’Brien, eTec enterprise management specialist at AIB, the bank had replaced its Nortel Networks X25-based network with a Cisco IP network two years ago. With the change in architecture arose the need to replace the out-of-the-box network management system with a new one.
O’Brien said the company had been unhappy with the HP-sourced system as it was too inflexible, expensive to maintain and was not able to fully utilise all its available functions. It also required extensive specialist knowledge and training to run.
In deciding to seek out external expertise to design and build a bespoke system, AIB was introduced by LAN Communications to Crannog Software. Founded in 1998, Crannog Software specialises in the development and marketing of niche network management tools. Its customers include Bank of Ireland, Diageo, Dell, Vodafone, HP and the Revenue Commissioners.
O’Brien says the combination of Crannog’s software skills and the backing of LAN Communications was enough to convince the bank to commission a bespoke network management system.
Over the next two years, Crannog developed a suite of products called Netwatch as AIB’s primary network management platform. The potentially high costs of such a bespoke system were minimised for AIB by collaborating with Crannog on the product development process. Crannog, in return, was able to use AIB as its enterprise test-bed for a number of aspects of Netwatch for general release.
‘We have found that while many of our larger enterprise management solutions rarely get the usage or provide the functionality we expect, our point solutions from Crannog Software have been extremely effective and are our most highly utilised network management products,’ said O’Brien.
The Netwatch suite, which includes Netwatch, Netflow Monitor, Netwhere and the Network Element Database, has brought about a considerable reduction in the number of man-hours per week required for network trouble-shooting tasks, enabling deployment of valuable network management resources into higher-value activities.
The suite measures and monitors the performance of AIB’s network resources across all wide area links for over 16,000 users worldwide. The deployment also facilitates speedy network troubleshooting for administration staff and facilitates more accurate capacity planning across the global network.
Crannog Software says the aim of the Netwatch suite is to present network data and statistics in a user-friendly format. It uses a smart platform that extracts network statistics either directly from end devices or through element managers and/or reporting engines. The information is presented in web-based interactive maps, which use visually friendly pie charts and graphs and the platform immediately delivers a clear indication of the health of network services.
There are 1500 individual communications devices on the AIB global network, so the ability to have such an indepth view of traffic has significantly increased the visibility AIB’s Network Management Centre has of all activity on its IT infrastructure.
‘For example, the deployment of Netwatch and the Network Element Database have allowed us to transition our monitoring to 1st level Operations rather than 2nd level network support specialists,’ said O’Brien. ‘This has freed up internal resources to concentrate on tasks that add higher value and improves our service levels to individual users.’