With Visibility from the ExtraHop Platform, Leading Business School Reduces Troubleshooting Times for Systems, Including Banner and Blackboard, by 50 Percent
SEATTLE, WA – June 9, 2014 – ExtraHop, the global leader in real-time wire data analytics for IT operational intelligence, today announced that Bentley University is using the ExtraHop wire data analytics platform to dramatically improve student and faculty access to critical IT resources for the school's 6,000 students and 500 faculty.
Universities and colleges struggle with extremely heterogeneous environments across a mix of decentralized departments, all while managing the increasing demand to deploy and support new technologies at a faster pace. Providing secure wireless connectivity for an assortment of mobile devices adds another layer of complexity.
At Bentley, one of the nation's leading business schools, a 50-person IT staff supports numerous complex systems and applications, including a Blackboard learning management system, open-source Liferay collaboration software, and Banner software using an Oracle database—a solution designed specifically for higher education that maintains student, alumni, financial, and personnel data.
One of Bentley's biggest challenges is dealing with frequent, high-traffic events such as ticket sales for student activities, housing registration, and intense class-registration periods. These events often involve many components of the IT environment, including the MyBentley portal, a central authentication server, the Banner Web application, and an Oracle application server.
"Whenever class registration came around, we were stuck going through four different systems, trying to load balance and test the interaction between all four systems to find the failure—which turned out to be a complex issue that didn't involve just a single setting or server," says Todd Marsh, Senior Manager of Network Infrastructure Services at Bentley. "Before ExtraHop, it took us months to do that. By the time we got through one registration cycle, we were working to figure out the next. With ExtraHop, we can now easily spot and resolve problems before they affect students."
In addition to helping Bentley tackle event-specific traffic spikes, insight from the ExtraHop wire data analytics platform has helped the university reduce overall troubleshooting time by 50 percent. The visibility delivered by ExtraHop has played a particularly important role in streamlining the interaction between Blackboard and Banner.
"The first week we had the ExtraHop running, we realized there were over half a million database errors between the Blackboard learning system and Banner every week. Turns out that Blackboard was making a call to a table that didn't exist. I was able to print out a PDF, walk it over to the database administrators, point the issue out, and get it resolved almost immediately," said Marsh.
Marsh and his team at Bentley also appreciate ExtraHop's agentless approach to monitoring. "Unlike other solutions we looked at, the ExtraHop appliance deployed in 15 minutes—and all of a sudden, we could see which tables were being used, by which applications, and which ones performed most slowly," said Marsh. "We had tried deploying agents for Banner but were never able to run them in production because of performance issues. It was so easy to put the ExtraHop in, send traffic to it, and start fixing problems."
"Like many universities, Bentley, its students, and its faculty rely on a complex network of applications that now play a central role in administering higher education," said Jesse Rothstein, CEO, ExtraHop. "For Bentley, navigating this complexity to ensure a seamless end-user experience used to be an incredibly time-consuming task that often required months of preparation. Even with this preparation, systems often malfunctioned. With ExtraHop, Bentley has cut troubleshooting times by 50 percent, and they now have the visibility they need to rapidly resolve problems before they impact students and faculty."
Check out the case study to learn more about how Bentley University is using ExtraHop's wire data analytics.