Network control a paradise for Gold Coast City Council

IT on a mission for a hassle-free network

Gold Coast City Council has cut the complexity from network management by dumping its unsupported Novell network authentication software for a new solution.

The council is the second largest in Australia covering 1402 square kilometres and home to one of the fastest growing populations with more than 510,000 people.

A mixture of microwave and 1.5Mbit DSL links connect the council's main Surfers Paradise and Nerrang sites with some 50 remote depots and 15 libraries.

A large team of IT managers and help desk staff support and maintain a network of more than 3500 Windows XP PCs and a few Macintosh computers, used by designers.

Gold Coast City Council IT security operations manager Jason Shepherd said the business case for replacing the network management platform virtually wrote itself.

"The unsupported [Novera] system was causing hardware and network incompatibilities," Shepherd said.

"We couldn't afford to waste time on complex network management because we don't have the resources to spend.

"It wasn't viable because support was cut and our architecture was due for an update as part of its lifecycle."

Shepherd created a short list of 12 products in January last year from discussions with Gartner and trawling the Internet.

"I concentrated on product support, ability to expand and a local presence - which we value a lot," he said.

The council then approached four of the companies for a full product evaluation, and completed two successful pilots after a Microsoft ISA Server reseller showed little interest.

"We tested for solid configuration and manageability," Shepherd said, adding that IT did not have enough staff to install and support open source applications such as Squid.

The council deployed Blue Coat ProxySG and ProxyAV mid last year for network authentication, content filtering and gateway antivirus protection.

Shepherd installed three ProxySG and one ProxyAV device over the corporate network, and has deployed a further 20 smaller proxies across other council sites and libraries.

He said the roll-out was "hassle-free" despite some Java compatibility problems.

"We are now re-evaluating how we deliver IT services and allow Internet access. We have better centralized control and it is easier to make the libraries child safe."

Shepherd's next project will be mitigating risks of information leakages across the network, particularly from external devices such as thumb drives.

He said user policies are ineffective because they "can only hope to work on users who read them.

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