When two become one

When its dual security solution failed to live up to expectations Dubai Municipality went looking for an alternative and found two isn’t always better than one.

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By  Administrator Published  December 31, 2006

Dubai Municipality (DM), a government organisation providing the backbone for most of the city’s public services, believed that its existing system was not capable of ensuring security across its network. Responsible for a range of public services such as transport, planning, public health, and roads services, the organisation required a robust, speedy security solution to continue to meet the demands of the rapidly expanding city.

Against a backdrop of rapid economic growth and increased demands on its systems there was a clear business need behind the Municipality’s desire to overhaul its in-house IT security. At a fundamental level, Dubai Municipality required a security solution that would ensure its network was free from security risks such as viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other attacks.

With a large network of desktops spread across multiple sites, it was imperative for Dubai Municipality to accelerate and streamline its management of updates across its desktop estate. The Municipality believed that the implementation of a Symantec security solution would also guard against future costs associated with security, solve existing IT management problems and accelerate an overall move towards instant, comprehensive security reporting that would allow the organisation to act upon information immediately.

Prior to its decision to implement a Symantec solution, Trend Micro had provided internet security at the gateway level with McAfee providing desktop security. Both applications resided in the same environment, over a network compromising more than 3,000 desktops and 115 remote local government sites, connected via a frame relay ISDN network.

The core Dubai Municipality infrastructure is made up of 70 clustered Compaq servers and Compaq storage, brought together via Nortel switches and Cisco routers.

The eGovernment environment, supporting multiple online citizen services, currently resides on iPlanet and Sun Solaris servers, but is due to be replaced with new hardware.

The combination of McAfee and Trend Micro solutions became increasingly difficult to manage in terms of vendor support, updates and reports, according to the end user. “It was becoming more and more difficult to manage the desktop environment, mainly because we could only get a few, limited reports on the security situation. Updates to the McAfee solution were slow to roll out across the estate, the support was poor, and the set up was very complicated. We had to change it,” explains Majid Abdulla Malek, head of office automation at Dubai Municipality. Dubai Municipality began an evaluation of several alternative security options.

Shortlisted candidates included Symantec, the organisation’s existing security software suppliers (McAfee and Trend Micro), and Sophos.

After undertaking a benchmarking exercise, McAfee was ruled out by Dubai Municipality on the basis of limited functionality and Sophos as a result of support concerns. The Symantec solution provided the functionality, product roadmap, and support Dubai Municipality required.

Dubai Municipality has more than 13,300 staff working in 32 organisational units. The decision by the UAE Government to diversify Dubai from a trade-based but oilreliant economy into a service and tourism-led economy has transformed Dubai into one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

Driven by large-scale property and construction and a booming tourism industry, the dynamic growth, fuelled by a buoyant economy, is placing huge pressure on the Dubai Municipality’s technology infrastructure.

To combat desktop security threats like viruses, worms and other attacks, Dubai Municipality deployed Symantec AntiVirus Enterprise Edition security solution.

The new system has enabled Dubai Municipality to solve what was previously an extremely time consuming exercise. Streamlining the timescale for updating 3,000 desktops across the estate from one month to 15 minutes, the solution has reduced the amount of time previously required to manually update the 115 sites.

“One of the best advantages [of Symantec AntiVirus Enterprise Edition is the speed of updates. We can now update the 3,000 workstations in just fifteen minutes. Previously, it would have taken up to one month to drive around all of our sites and update all these systems manually,” says Malek.

Importantly, Symantec also provided Dubai Municipality with accessible support – something the organisation felt other suppliers could not adequately provide. Developing a strong working relationship with the vendor helped to educate the 40 inhouse IT staff supporting the desktop estate and the choice of security solution proven popular.

“Besides the fact the product set was flexible and could be used in other parts of the organisation, we also had a great relationship with the Symantec sales and technical team,” explains Malek. With two designated contacts, alerting services and tailored message options dependent on the threat level, plus unlimited access to support analysts, Dubai Municipality is taking full advantage of Symantec’s Platinum Support.

With vendor support a prevalent factor in the decisions to reject offerings from other vendors, the unlimited access to Symantec’s global technical support centre, coupled with a single point of contact, has helped Dubai Municipality to manage its environment in a more efficient and streamlined manner.

“Here in the United Arab Emirates, the Symantec office is comparatively small, which means it is important to have fast, around-the-clock access to professionals who understand the issues, incidents, and dependencies we face. Since introducing Symantec Platinum Support, our staff have resolved multiple queries online.

It’s definitely been a worthwhile investment,” Malek adds.

Working closely with its system integration partner, Computer Network Systems, the Dubai Municipality implemented Symantec AntiVirus Enterprise Edition and Symantec DeepSight Alert Services to guard and protect its network and ensure the integrity of the information running through it.

Symantec AntiVirus Enterprise Edition provides the Municipality with virus protection, content filtering, and spam prevention for the Internet gateway and Exchange environments - along with malware protection for 3,000 workstations and 60 network servers. Symantec DeepSight Alert Services provides warning of potential security threats.

“The Symantec DeepSight Alert Services is an important element of our security response system. We receive e-mails via Symantec regarding the latest threats and their severity. Armed with this information, we can take the appropriate actions to ensure business continuity,” Malek continues.

To boost the effectiveness of security across its workstations and sites, Dubai Municipality wanted fast, effective, analytic reporting.

The integrated web-based graphical reporting from Symantec provides a comprehensive portfolio of status and updates - transforming security data into actionable information.

Reduction in cost and time consumption, co-ordinated with the knowledge of a secure environment has enabled the organisation to focus on delivering upon its objectives; ensuring that public services provided in the city remain functional and fully operational at all times.

“Dubai is one of the most progressive and in-demand cities in the world for visitors and workers. Any disruption could have a major impact on the way the world perceives the city. Thanks to Symantec, that image is being preserved,” concludes Malek.

Project details

Who?

Dubai Municipality

What?

Deployment of an integrated Symantec security solution

When?

2005-2006

Why?

To protect 3,000 workstations and ensure the continued, secure delivery of public services in Dubai. The system has also enabled Dubai Municipality to decrease the amount of time it to update its workstations.

“Updates were slow to roll out across the estate, the support was poor and the set-up was very complicated.”


” One of the best advantages is the speed of updates. We can now update the 3,000 workstations in just fifteen minutes.”

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