Real-World Feedback: University Focus

Terry Slattery
Principal Architect

It is always great to get feedback directly from our customers and I had the privilege of a good exchange of information with Matthew Almand of Texas A&M University.  They have a big network, comprised of 25 backbone Catalyst 6500 routers at 10 locations, interconnected by 1G and 10G links.  There are 340 buildings, outfitted with a variety of distribution switches, from Catalyst 6500s in the larger buildings to smaller switches like the Catalyst 3750, 3560, 3550, or 2960.  The edge switches are Catalyst 2950s and 2960, plus some legacy gear, over 3000 in all.

The applications in a University are typically all over the map, starting with video conferencing, e-learning, and of course e-mail.  Unofficially, there will also be some level of peer-to-peer networking of some sort. When I asked Matthew “How does NetMRI help you?”, he replied:

It allows us to have a comprehensive view at the health, compliancy, “goodness” of the network. From this comprehensive view we can:   – create and prioritize simple tasks (duplex mismatches, spanning tree priority, etc.) for a small number of devices
– create and prioritize and execute simple tasks (daylight saving time dates) for all devices
– create and prioritize complex tasks (IOS code upgrades in response to PSIRT announcements).
The point I’m trying to make is that NetMRI can produce the “hits” for a deficiency / inconsistency or that the data it collects can be used to produce other actions. This can be small precise strikes or could encompass a wide swathe.

Matthew goes on to describe how the compliance and inventory functionality are big timesavers, checking for proper implementation of their own best practice configurations and  tracking inventory for Property Management auditors and to accurately track equipment listed in Cisco’s PSIRT announcement.  “We used to spend considerable effort just collecting the information on IOS levels, line card modules hardware revisions, etc before the actual work of installing new IOS could begin,” Matthew says.

Matthew and his team at Texas A&M have a compelling set of business drivers that matches well with NetMRI’s functionality.  Thank you, Matthew, for sharing your experience.



Re-posted with Permission 

NetCraftsmen would like to acknowledge Infoblox for their permission to re-post this article which originally appeared in the Applied Infrastructure blog under


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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.