Firewall solution supports growth and fast deployment

Tourism Australia needed a robust firewall solution to support its growing needs for expansion and rapid deployment

Australia’s geographic isolation from the rest of the world doesn't seem to hurt the country's appeal as a holiday or business destination. Since the late sixties the number of visitors to this country has been on a consistent rise. In the 12 months to February 2011 5.9 million visitors came to Australia – an increase of more than four% over the previous year.

Tourism Australia is the Government agency responsible for marketing Australia as a local and international destination for leisure and business travel. Over the years Tourism Australia has established a reputation as an innovator in tourism marketing and has built one of the world’s most successful and desirable destination brands.

Although the organisation's scope is global, its marketing efforts concentrate upon six major regions: North Asia, South and South East Asia ,New Zealand and the Gulf Countries in the eastern hemisphere and the United Kingdom / Europe, and the Americas in the western hemisphere.

The infrastructure

Given much of Tourism Australia's work is carried out internationally, the organisation is heavily reliant on its information technology infrastructure. Networks and multiple Internet hubs are essential for the organisation's day-to-day operations, serving up core business applications and facilitating communications for approximately 250 employees. The infrastructure also enables Tourism Australia to host multiple consumer-oriented websites, carrying the organisation's promotional messages to a wide and varied audience.

Tourism Australia also sets up temporary offices to cater for trade shows. These are held in the major capitals throughout Australia so it's imperative that the organisation is always able to quickly establish secure, remote Internet access to its systems.

The firewall

In mid-2010 Tourism Australia's firewall devices were approaching the end of their useful life. Alan McNamara, the organisation's Technology Infrastructure Manager, was tasked with identifying suitable replacements. Key requirements were security, performance, intrusion prevention and web filtering.

“What it came down to was a combination of age of equipment, cost and functionality,” McNamara explains. “We looked at lifetime costs of equipment and compared devices. We were trying to combine different feature sets of the firewalls and we found that with most of the technologies, this would have required the firewalls, additional modules and in some cases additional devices”.

McNamara ultimately chose a solution from WatchGuard as they found they could fulfil their needs just one device.”

With multiple offices and the remote access requirement, McNamara selected eleven WatchGuard XTM-family firewalls consisting of five redundant pairs and one additional device for the temporary network requirements. The multi-function devices coped with Tourism Australia's high-volume traffic and include a suite of flexible tools that offered easy, secure and centralised device management.

Prepared for the worst, experienced the best 

Deployment began in August 2010. McNamara says “We did a lot of testing to make sure that everything worked as planned. Then, when the test environment was successful we deployed to a user acceptance testing environment which allowed us to make sure that the Internet access was good. Once this was right we deployed the first pair of devices to our first office”.

Once the first pair was up and running, the roll-out moved on to Tourism Australia's remaining hubs.

Bang for Your Buck

McNamara suggests the biggest benefits of WatchGuard include ease of use, configuration and administration, enhanced security and application control. “The devices allow the use of Internet applications on our network but in a very controlled way.

From an IT management perspective, WatchGuard's reporting is giving McNamara far greater visibility into Internet activity than ever before. “We can view all our Internet circuits from the one console. It gives us real time reporting so we can see the bandwidth being used which gives us the ability to set up proactive alerts if thresholds are being breached. Real time also means we can identify any potential problems and stop them before they affect the end user,” he adds.

“Since the roll-out we've been to a seminar to learn more about upcoming feature sets and to understand the future roadmap. It's good to be kept informed of what a vendor is planning. Other than that, we've had no service requirements and I am completely happy,” he concludes.

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