HEAnet: providing network uptime for education

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If there’s one sector that relies on network uptime more than ever before, it’s the education sector. For both in-person and virtual learning, students and staff connect to crucial resources around the world to share information. The infrastructure that enables this connectivity is critical, and in the country of Ireland, this infrastructure is deployed and maintained by HEAnet.

As the national education and research network, HEAnet is a provider who must adhere to stringent service levels in order to keep entire education communities online. But they recently faced a few major challenges as their out-of-band (OOB) management solution neared its end-of-life (EOL) date. This system was crucial to maintaining network uptime, as it gave engineers remote access to their 50+ nationwide locations. They needed to quickly roll out a new solution, but they were faced with a second challenge — limited staff.

It seemed HEAnet was stuck between a rock and a hard place. They would surely need to outsource the job, and that’s when they turned to Rahi, the world-renowned MSP who introduced them to ZPE Systems’ Nodegrid.

The rest is history, and for a deep dive into that lesson, download the full HEAnet case study below.

But before you do, here’s a quick refresher on critical infrastructure and why network uptime can be difficult to maintain.

Critical infrastructure and network uptime

Critical infrastructure is made up of the systems that connect sites to each other and to the rest of the world. The data center is an obvious example of where critical infrastructure is deployed. Points-of-presence (POPs) and colocations are other somewhat obvious examples. All of these house components, such as servers, switches, and routers, which are essential to handling data and traffic that organizations rely on.

Here are more examples of where critical infrastructure is commonly found:

  • Warehouses: servers, routers, and Wi-Fi access points help humans and their automated counterparts track inventories, fulfill orders, and communicate with vendors.
  • Manufacturing plants: operationalized technology like sensors and IoT devices collect data from gauges, robots, and machining equipment to ensure accurate measurements, maintain quality control, and streamline fabrication processes.
  • Cellular base stations: compute, storage, and failover devices process signals, store data, and provide backup connectivity for critical cell site components.

Organizations must maintain high levels of network uptime for their critical infrastructure, since it supports the lifeblood of everything they do. But this can be a challenge because these components are not always located within convenient reach of skilled engineers.

Why can network uptime be so challenging to maintain?

Maintaining network uptime can be challenging even for fully-staffed locations. This difficulty is amplified — quite dramatically — when organizations have to recover and maintain sites that are located far off the beaten path.

Imagine this: you’re responsible for monitoring and troubleshooting critical infrastructure for a network of college campuses in your region. One of your most remote sites, which serves more than one thousand students and faculty on any given day, experiences sudden disruptions and eventually goes offline. It’ll take close to four hours for you to put skilled staff on site to recover the network, which puts you at risk of breaching your SLA. You and your team are stressed out and scrambling, while students and teachers have no option but to cancel some or all of their activities.

Now imagine that you have a tool that allows you to respond instantly and restore the network before anyone even notices. That’s the kind of power you can achieve with a deep, robust out-of-band management solution, which is one of the tools HEAnet deployed to keep disruptions from reaching users.

There’s more that can go wrong, however. Your sites could suffer an ISP outage, leaving locations in the dark if they don’t employ any wireless backup connections. Or if your customer has a multi-vendor MSP solution that you’re part of, the other vendor’s components may be to blame, and you need a tool that can help you quickly diagnose the root cause.

Download the HEAnet case study

To see more challenges you might face when maintaining network uptime, download the HEAnet case study. You’ll also discover how Nodegrid gave them seamless backup connectivity and allowed a single Rahi engineer to deploy two sites in a single day. Get the case study now.