MTV Networks Europe (MTVNE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. is the largest television network in Europe. Launched in August 1987 and headquartered in London, MTVNE is distributed to more than 100 million households in 43 territories, including Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Ireland, The Netherlands and Scandinavia.
The fast pace and global nature of MTV Europe’s business means that it relies heavily on the networks that carry information about broadcasting schedules and advertising in order to broadcast successfully and operate profitably.
These networks enable MTVNE staff across Europe to respond to advertisers instantly and change broadcasting schedules at very short notice if they feel it will be to their commercial advantage. Much of the advertising is market-driven with the advertisers regularly instructing the station to change or reschedule the advertisements broadcast to audiences in over 43 territories across 24 channels. This instantaneous “juggling” of advertising and broadcasting schedules means that MTV Europe must be confident that its wide area network provides staff with instant access to their systems - wherever they are located.
As MTV Europe continued to expand and added more services to its operation, such as carrying live broadcast traffic, an increasing amount of pressure was placed on its networks.
A huge amount of support staff time was being absorbed in locating and solving problems on the network as they arose. It became clear that “fire fighting” as a corporate policy was tying up too much of the company’s resources and that something had to be done to free up these resources for more strategic purposes.
Dave Jones, Infrastructure Manager, MTV Europe, comments: “Over time it became clear that our reactive approach to the network infrastructure was tying up too many critical members of staff in the fire fighting process. We were spending too many man-hours just trying to locate the point of failure in the network infrastructure, never mind the repairs. We decided that we needed an enterprise management tool that would not only enable us to monitor our critical systems 24/7 but without constant manual intervention and without tying up more staff to run the system.”
MTV Europe identified its needs at the outset. The company was keen not to re-invent the wheel and as such scoured the market for an enterprise management solution that incorporated hardware and software monitoring, automated alerts and alarms for local and remote support staff, flexible trend analysis and ultimately proactive network management capabilities.
Hitting the right note
Having reviewed around 70 different solutions from 50 different suppliers (including HP Openview, Tivoli, UniCenter and Aprisma) MTV Europe selected SNMPc Enterprise from Castle Rock Computing. The solution, including installation and training services, was delivered by Teneo Limited a UK based partner.
Dave, continues: “We concluded that two problems occurred in the majority of solutions proposed. Firstly, they required either a dedicated internal team or the on-going and costly services of an extensive outside consultancy team. Secondly they required a number of individual components and applications to be integrated with each other. This would prove costly and to our mind seemed a nightmare to support and manage. Ultimately none could match the price and performance that was presented by Castle Rock Computing.”
The Castle Rock Computing SNMPc solution with the remote access extension has given us exactly what we needed, at a fraction of the price that we were expecting to pay.
“The solution enables us to identify the point of failure almost instantaneously and automatically alerts only the relevant support team. This means that instead of everybody looking for the fault, e.g. the Server team, the Applications team, the Network team and the Desktop team, we can instantly deploy the relevant personnel, all of whom will have a good idea of what’s gone wrong. This translates into a greatly reduced time-to-fix. Additionally, the ability to add manual thresholds to trend reports has helped us identify network weaknesses and hotspots in a way that we were unable to do before. The system currently monitors 150 servers, 200 network devices, 60 circuits, 300 printers, and allows the IT support team to receive automatic alerts for all essential devices.”
MTV Europe has been actively using the Castle Rock Computing solution for 6 months and went fully live in January 2003, with its mission critical Broadcasting Systems being brought in during February and March, following a successful testing period in December. Teneo is actively assisting in the rollout of the Broadcasting Systems network; developing back-end database systems based upon SNMPc, and helping to integrate an additional SMS alarm system for the software.
“Despite the fact that some of the technical challenges we faced were complex, Teneo has worked with us to ensure that the system has been deployed with the minimum of fuss and inconvenience to staff, and to help integrate our existing tools and systems. This has insured rapid take up by staff and a high level of user and management satisfaction. We now have absolute confidence that our broadcasting efficiency and service to customers is second to none and will help us to maintain our position as Europe’s largest television network.”