Boosting bandwidth

Kuwaiti Ministry upgrades its Cisco-based network to create faster throughput and make use of converged applications.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  September 17, 2005

|~||~||~|The Kuwaiti Ministry of Public Works has overhauled its network infrastructure to cope with growing bandwidth demands and add functionality such as IP telephony and enhanced multimedia support. The Ministry turned to Cisco’s Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data (AVVID) technology for the upgrade. This comprises a range of core networking, telephony and multimedia solutions working in tandem. “Because some of our key programs, such as CAD and CAM design applications, use a tremendous amount of bandwidth and require extensive cooperation among support and engineering staff across the network, we recognised that only by upgrading to AVVID could we effectively maximise our efficiencies and speed up our planning processes,” says Ebtisam Al-Shemmary, IT director, Kuwait Ministry of Public Works. The new network, which will run at the Ministry’s headquarters, offers 10 Gigabit Ethernet at the network core, with Gigabit speed to the desktop, with two core Catalyst 6509 switches and nine Catalyst 6506 switches on the access layer. The implementation was carried out in October 2004 by Universe Computers and replaced an aging Cisco-based infrastructure. As it replaced its entire network infrastructure, the Ministry says it had no integration problems. Its cabling infrastructure supported the new products and almost all of the servers and most of the desktops PCs already supported Gigabit throughput. As the old equipment was Cisco-branded Al-Shemmary was able to trade-in to reduce the cost of the new equipment. This is one the reasons the Ministry plumped for Cisco, another being that its staff is Cisco-certified and has accumulated considerable experience in maintaining and troubleshooting the vendor’s equipment. “We also chose Cisco because it is a world leader in the networking business as well as at the cutting edge of technology,” says Al-Shemmary. “Plus, Cisco provides very easily and widely available support and maintenance throughout Kuwait,” she adds. According to the Ministry’s IT supremo, the network was in great need of an upgrade. “The old network used obsolete products and techniques, while most desktop systems has been upgraded at least twice during the same period,” she explains. This created an unbalanced situation at the Ministry with desktop operations flying due to powerful workstations and servers but with a slow backbone network infrastructure clipping its wings. This was creating user frustration and also meant that its IT investment was not being fully utilised. The higher bandwidth provided by the upgrade reversed this trend, resulting in noticeable improvements in the performance of applications. “The increase in bandwidth makes it easier to deploy updates and hot fixes on multiple users. With policy features and QoS, we can give the priority to mission critical traffic,” says Al-Shemmary. “It has also allowed us to add network management, antivirus management, software updates and ISA server applications to the network,” she adds. The Ministry handles management through a number of solutions such as CiscoWorks, HP OpenView, Manage Engine OP Manager and Netflow analyser, with fault, performance, security and accounting management the key focus areas. To ensure the security of the network, the Public Works team installed two Cisco PIX firewalls. These are used to secure both the internal and DMZ network. A log server is also maintained to monitor information from the firewalls. A further layer of security is provided by access lists on the router and switches.||**||

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