AGO network frames HP

As people make their way deeper into the Art Gallery of Ontario’s current Revealing the Early Renaissance exhibit they find among the more than 700-year-old art works a masterpiece of sorts of the 21st century.

Just in front Giotto de Bondone’s massive Perruzi Altarpiece is a 10-inch Apple iPad, its familiar touch screen connecting visitors virtually to the history of the influential 14th century Perruzi family of Florence. It is one of several tablets available to gallery visitors throughout the exhibit.
(The Peruzzi Altarpiece. Image from the AGO)

Using a tablet device to call up images and data at the swipe of a finger is common place these days, but even if the iPad were introduced five years ago it would still have been a challenge for the AGO to mount a similar interactive mobile display.

“Prior to our reconstruction in 2008, the AGO’s IT system was a mixture of various cabling and network appliances from HP, Linksys, Cisco, Netgear and Dell,” according to Virginia Vuleta, director of digital services for the gallery. “Our IT team had a hard time managing it because each component was from a different vendor and there was no way to manage the network centrally.”

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There were times when the network would work well and then suddenly fail. “Often, IT personnel would have to go through devices one-by-one,” said Vuleta. ”If we were mounting an interactive mobile display like we have today, technicians would have to go through each tablet every day to connect it to the network.”

Five years ago AGO contracted Hewlett-Packard to help it rebuild its network. The system also supported AGO’s unique Wi-Fi requirements for personnel communication devices and mobile audio devices for visitors.

Of all the changes, Vuleta is especially glad about the HP’s Windows-based HP PCM+ management software that provides her IT team a centralized management, mapping, configuration and device monitoring console to remotely keep track of devices attached to the network.

“From the console, we could determine the status of each device and carryout the necessary repairs before the problem escalates or push content to it remotely,” said Vuleta. “This has freed IT personnel to concentrate in take part actively in planning new mobile initiatives.”
For instance, now that many gallery patrons are connecting to the AGO web site through a variety of mobile devices, Vuleta and her team are looking into the possibility of how disparate devices can be allowed limited access to AGO’s network to enhance visitor experience in inside the gallery.

This in essence, is what HP’s software-defined networking (SDN) strategy aims for, according to Peter Galanis, HP Canada’s managing director and vice-president of its enterprise group.

“SDN will automate many tasks associated with running a network and it will enable administrators to provision network components remotely through a set of policies,” he said, during HP’s SDN presentation at the AGO.

The AGO success, is what HP hopes to accomplish for other Canadian organizations with its software-defined-network strategy for managing both wired and wireless devices connected to the corporate network.

“The message we want to get out there to Canadian businesses is that HP has the networking equipment and applications to help them simplify the management of their BYOD implementation,” said Craig Hinkley, VP and general manager for HP networking in the Americas. “We want to let them know we can help them cut their unified communication costs.”

With the growing pressure on IT departments to connect employee-bought devices to the corporate network the BYOD trend has introduced new device management issues, he said.

“Administrators need to know which devices are connected to the network, what are they doing and what are they accessing,” Hinkley said. “At the same time they need to be able to access these devices remotely to either roll out applications and services or to block the device.”

Last year, HP provided a sneak peek into its software-defined networking (SDN) strategy with the announcement of place to release an SDN Controller in the second half of 2013.

HP is also part of a group which includes the likes of Cisco Systems, Big Switch Networks, Brocade Communications, Citrix, Juniper Networks and Microsoft, that is working on the OpenDaylight Project which aims to develop an open source framework to help define the future of an open SDN platform.



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