War Memorial gets fibre fit-out

Supplementing its “forklift” networking infrastructure upgrade, the Australian War Memorial in Canberra has started transferring data between offices over a private fibre link.

The agency’s head of IT, Daryl Winterbottom, said the previous network operated on legacy equipment and needed to be replaced.

“We had a coaxial network in place and a 155Mbps ATM link between switches and no gigabit,” he said. “We decided to perform a forklift upgrade of our equipment and now have a network core of two Nortel Passport 8600 switches which are scalable, redundant, and perform well.”

Supporting some 350 IT users and 24 servers, the War Memorial’s network has 10 workgroups across two sites at Campbell and Mitchell.

“At the edge of the network we have 10 Nortel BayStack 4700 with 48 ports each,” Winterbottom said. “These are cascading switches typically arranged in stacks of three and connected by dual gigabit uplinks to the core. These switches connect the desktops.”

In selecting a vendor for the upgrade, Winterbottom said a number could provide the desired redundancy but Nortel Networks’ switches could aggregate dual links.

“By using split multilink trunking network traffic can be split across dual redundant links,” he said. “If a link goes down, all traffic will be dynamically re-routed through the other. Also, Nortel’s pricing is competitive and they took the time to look at our site.”

According to Winterbottom a completely new network was required because the old one had “bandwidth problems, connection bottlenecks, and no redundancy”.

“The new network, with hot-swappable interface controllers, allows a lot of room to grow without worrying about bandwidth,” he said. “The change-over was handled by doing the workgroup switches first and was completed in one evening.”

With the new network in place, the agency was also able to upgrade the link between office locations to fibre.

“As recently as last month we replaced the microwave link between Campbell and Mitchell with private fibre,” Winterbottom said. “This high-speed peering arrangement allows us to bypass carriers with all data transfers between sites.”

Overall, Winterbottom said he is extremely happy with the performance of the new network, which cost between $200,000 and $300,000.

“We expect the new network to have a five-year lifespan; however, the switches are modular and can be upgraded,” he said.

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