British Council turns to Cisco for Web-based network

The British Council in the Middle East has pulled together its offices across the Middle East via an Internet-based communications backbone from Cisco.

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By  Rob Corder Published  September 21, 2000

The British Council in the Middle East has pulled together its offices across the Middle East via an Internet-based communications backbone from Cisco.

The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational and cultural relations.

The project, which cost a total of $1.6 million, will not only connect the offices of the British Council it will also bring them into a network of the world’s top education institutions.

This will accelerate the organizations ability to share knowledge on issues like commerce, science, culture, medicine and governance.

“We can not do our work if our offices cannot communicate with each other, and with the academic and commercial organisations we represent,” said David Miller, regional implementation manager (Middle East, Turkey and Central Asia) at the British Council in the UAE.

The British Council used Network Information Technology (NIT), a Cisco Premier Partner, as the primary contractor here in the UAE, and several other surrounding territories.

“We’re predominantly buying Cisco devices in this region because of the reliability and availability of the products, and the excellent support we get from Cisco and its certified partners such as NIT,” commented Miller. “Almost anywhere you go in the Middle East or CIS countries, you will find engineers with skills in implementing Cisco products. This means that if we are having a problem in a country like Yemen or the Caspian states, the local Internet Service Provider can help out.”

The Council has embarked on a global project to standardise and consolidate its technical infrastructure to ensure secure and reliable communications globally. “We now have at least 64kbps links at almost all of our sites, where the local Internet infrastructure allows. This lets us to implement proper back-office systems such as Microsoft Exchange messaging and our ‘Registrar’ student administration system, as well as providing Internet access to our students, where they can access tests and course material over the Internet.”

The typical architecture is a core Cisco 2600 series router acting as a security wall between the front office public network and the back office corporate systems. The back office routers connect to Catalyst 2900 series switches for workstations and servers, and in the front office it connects to separate Catalyst 2900 series switches for student workstations, and to the fileserver with the course content CD-ROM towers via a Fast EtherChannel connection.

This is then connected to a proxy server, which attaches to the Internet through a Cisco 1600 series router.

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