Cambridge University tackles web-traffic rise

The university is using network-management software to cope with a huge increase in web traffic across its network

The University of Cambridge is using network management software to help monitor and load-balance a massive increase in web traffic across its campus-wide admin network.

The university's management information service (MIS) team has been running the Zeus Extensible Traffic Manager (ZXTM) for two years, and claims it has made a significant difference to the operation of its network.

The software essentially manages data traffic and inspects routing requests to make sure the infrastructure can cope.

Andy Richardson, operations support manager for MIS, told's sister site, "In effect we run the university's business systems. What we were really looking for was something that offered resilience."

He explained that the software was brought in around a year after the rollout of Oracle/PeopleSoft Campus Solutions across the university, which replaced the old, centralised student records system.

During this process, online access to the university network was made available to the entire student population, meaning the user-base jumped from around 150 staff to 20,000 people.

The network needed to be much more closely managed due to the huge increase in users and so two ZXTM software boxes were deployed in front of two firewalls and a pair of Sun V20Z Opteron servers.

The ZXTM boxes are used for load-balancing when demand is high, and also play a role in facilitating automated disaster failover.

The software has streamlined the SSL offload encryption process when client and server computers link up and has significantly reduced the load on the servers.

Richardson said the software had been easy to deploy and that it is very intuitive for staff to operate.

The university is planning to put more of the business systems behind the ZXTM boxes in the near future, including the HR payroll and financial reporting systems.


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