Council allows users to monitor network in bid to cut support cost

Cheshire County Council is to deploy a network-monitoring tool to end-users in a bid to reduce the technical support workload on...

Cheshire County Council is to deploy a network-monitoring tool to end-users in a bid to reduce the technical support workload on its unusual 620mbps network.

Mike Tuck, head of ICT planning at the council, said, "This is a partnership between IT and users. Psychologically, users feel more in control. They can find out for themselves whether they have a network problem."

As a result, Tuck said, the IT department does not need to waste time "fixing" network problems that do not exist. The tool is part of a far-reaching revamp of the council's IP network.

Using Chevin Performance Manager, a server-based network-monitoring tool, council staff can conduct a variety of tests across its network infrastructure, and measure network and application availability.

Rather than run the network tests from the IT department, Tuck has provided a desktop utility that allows end-users to run a network test themselves. "I chose to let users initiate the test so that they can check for themselves whether the network is running too slow."

He said the software would allow end-users to see whether the service level on the network was above the baseline. "I want to put power into the hands of the end user," he said. "We are hoping to achieve a minimum level of service as we roll out our broadband network during the next few months." The roll-out to schools and libraries will begin in the autumn.

Significantly, the new network is based on microwave radio technology called synchronous digital hierarchy operating at licensed radio frequencies between 6GHz and 38GHz, and will provide up to 620mbps of bandwidth, supplied by Ceragon.

"Even though there are higher start-up costs, we have gone for radio technology as it will be much cheaper [to run] over five years," Tuck said.

The radio network, which is being deployed by EDS, will eventually link 192 council offices, 346 schools and 39 libraries. "I am also in discussion with the district councils to provide some of their network infrastructure requirements," Tuck said.

The Cheshire wireless network 

  • A Ceragon synchronous digital hierarchy microwave network will eventually link 192 council offices, 346 schools and 39 libraries 
  • The network is being deployed by EDS  l The technology provides up to 620mbps of bandwidth  l 802.11 Wi-Fi also used to connect to backbone 
  • Backbone operates at 155mbps 
  • Main sites connect to backbone via Cisco 3500 switches  
  • Chevin Performance Manager allows end-users to check network service.

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