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New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change adopts WAN optimisation

Voice & Data magazine staff

The New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) has deployed a range of Riverbed Technology’s Steelhead appliances, and also the Steelhead Mobile client acceleration software, at 101 distributed sites across NSW.

The Steelhead appliances have slashed DECC’s data network traffic and bandwidth usage and improved connectivity to and from the remote sites. This enhanced communication has enabled staff at DECC’s disparate sites – many of which are used as bases for the Rural Fire Service (RFS) – to immediately access the most up-to-date information, such as maps and photos. This instantaneous access to data is critical to fighting bushfires.

Formerly known as the Department of Conservation, DECC comprises four organisations – National Parks and Wildlife, the Environment Protection Authority, the Botanic Gardens Trust and parts of the former Department of Infrastructure Planning and Natural Resources NSW. The department is responsible for managing the state’s natural resources, regulating activities to protect the environment and responding to the challenges surrounding climate change.

When these four organisations were merged, DECC’s IT department became responsible for four diverse IT environments in many locations across the state. The complexity of integration and management of these prompted DECC to research and build a new IT platform.

Fernando Martinez, Manager, ICT Infrastructure at DECC, says that a vital part of that initiative

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included WAN optimisation to address the poor connectivity at its remote sites.

“A lot of our sites are in extremely remote locations where getting access to a suitable WAN connection is either not possible or extremely expensive,” he explains. “It’s simply not practical to add bandwidth to these remote sites, which is why we started looking at WAN optimisation.”

DECC’s new IT architecture centralised both its email and backup applications and servers into the organisation’s two data centres in Sydney. This increased the level of traffic traversing the WAN and further demonstrated the need for WAN optimisation technology.

Martinez says he was impressed by the speed and simplicity of the Riverbed products, critical factors for a government department struggling with resources.

“The performance of the Riverbed Steelhead appliances during the pre-production trial was impressive,” explains Martinez. “The products scale exceptionally well and are simple to manage with the Central Management Console. This simplicity is paramount to us because we don’t have a dedicated person to look after these products – the less administration and management required, the better.”

As Australia gears up for another bushfire season, DECC will play a critical role in the RFS’s management of any potential disasters by making its remote sites available to fire brigades whenever necessary.

“DECC provides significant infrastructure support to the RFS during bushfire season, so it’s critical our WAN is performing at peak levels, especially around data transfer and email services,” said Martinez. “Already, our email traffic has been reduced by 75% and the throughput we get at one of our remote sites in Mt Tomah is much higher than the physical link speed of the WAN connection. We’re seeing this kind of performance boost (50-55% reduction in data) at all the sites where we’ve deployed the Steelhead devices.”

According to Martinez, the increased capacity of DECC’s WAN allows the organisation to carry out more business via the web. This means that staff need to travel less and the organisation saves money. The Steelhead Mobile PC client acceleration software also provides the same benefits as the Steelhead appliances to those users who are constantly on the move.

“Remote and travelling users are happier because their applications run faster across the WAN,” Martinez says, “and the DECC is happy because we spend less money on bandwidth. Overall, I’m very pleased with the Riverbed deployment, having seen a dramatic reduction in the level of WAN data transmitted across our network. This has ultimately led to better levels of customer service.”