Federal Court of Australia: Executive Network Performance Reporting

Executive Summary

  • Codify has developed and deployed a national network performance infrastructure for the Federal Court of Australia.
  • The reporting infrastructure enabled the Court to identify key performance bottlenecks and achieve a 1500% improvement in national network throughput.
  • Nearly 1000 key performance indicators are analysed continuously and presented in a concise and easy-to-read format for discussion at the executive level.

Business Scenario

The Court operates a complex national infrastructure including managed data centre space and various wide-area network links that allow connectivity between the Court’s remote locations. Users of the Court’s wide-area network were experiencing intermittent delays in accessing interstate file servers and applications as well as delays in accessing key legal Internet sites such as LexisNexis.

The key challenge of the project was to provide a series of ongoing network performance metrics that were suitable for discussion at the level of the national IT committee (readily available commercial-off-the-shelf software does not produce executive-level reports). It was also important that the reports provide an ongoing basis for a real-world health check of overall network performance.

Customer Profile

The Federal Court of Australia commenced operations on 1 February 1977. The Court has a substantial and diverse appellate jurisdiction. It hears appeals from decisions of single judges of the Court, and from the Federal Magistrates Court in non-family law matters. The Court also exercises general appellate jurisdiction in criminal and civil matters on appeal from the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island.

Solution

Overview

Codify developed a custom network performance monitoring solution for the Court. The solution collects metrics that indicate:

  • Typical read and write Windows File Share performance.
  • Typical Internet browsing performance for Court staff accessing important legal resources on the Internet.

Solution Architecture

Nearly 1000 key network performance indicators are collected on 15 minute intervals and rolled into aggregate figures. These aggregates are presented in attractive presentation-quality reports that are generated automatically and made available to Court staff via an intranet.

The solution itself is comprised of:

  •  A data collection agent to collect the network performance data at each reporting node. This agent is also responsible for shipping collated statistics back to a central reporting location.
  • A health check reporting agent to monitor the data collection agents. The health check agent ensures that all of the performance collection processes are running and collecting data.
  • A report generation agent that processes the collected data to produce the presentation-quality reports.

All components are written in C#. As the agents are deployed in a significant number of locations, the decision was made to use on-disk XML files for storage of data as opposed to a SQL back end. This allowed the court to save significantly on DBMS licensing costs.

In the final deployment, the solution has been configured to collect and collate data in a complete star topology (i.e. where the performance between all possible combinations of network end-points is measured) in order to allow the immediate identification of problem sites.

Success Stories

The reports generated by the executive network performance monitoring solution enabled the Court to pinpoint specific configuration issues within its wide-area network and achieve a 1500% increase in network throughput for typical file opening/saving type operations.  Operations that were previously taking 30 seconds or more to complete remotely are now taking only two to three seconds.

The reports are now regularly presented to the national IT committee when it convenes and allow an objective and ongoing view of the network performance provided nation-wide.