Shore becomes city of speed

North Shore City Council has become the first site in New Zealand to implement gigabit ethernet. North Shore council infrastructure officer Peter Cebalo says because the council wants to upgrade its wide area connections, it decided to simplify the network. It has installed a 3Com LinkSwitch 9000 in the network backbone with six fast ethernet switches hanging off it. Although the new switch runs at 1000Mbit/s, simplicity - not bandwidth - was the main consideration as the new backbone ties together 12 sub-nets.

North Shore City Council has become the first site in New Zealand to implement gigabit ethernet.

North Shore council infrastructure officer Peter Cebalo says because the council wants to upgrade its wide area connections, it decided to simplify the network. It has installed a 3Com LinkSwitch 9000 in the network backbone with six fast ethernet switches hanging off it. Although the new switch runs at 1000Mbit/s, simplicity — not bandwidth — was the main consideration as the new backbone ties together 12 sub-nets.

“Four years ago we had one NetWare server connected to four token ring networks,” says Cebalo. “The server was doing all the -routing and there were no wide area connections. We then put in a SMC ES1 router. SMC was taken over by Cabletron, and it became a Cabletron ATX ES1. It handled both token ring and ethernet, as the network had increased to eight ethernet segments and four token ring.”

One of the main aims of the council is to eventually move everything from token ring to ethernet.

“The whole building had been wired with type 1 [cabling],” says Cebalo. “Today all PCs come out with ethernet on the motherboard, so it’s getting quite expensive to put token ring adapter cards in them.”

With this in mind the council started rewiring the building with category 5 UTP, thinking it might go to 100Mbit/s in the future.

“That was the structure until we put in the one gigabit ethernet switch. ES1 was a central point of failure. So we wanted to simplify the network and get some bandwidth. Instead of having 12 different networks we will now have one, which makes it easier to use. For example, DHCP [dynamic host control protocol] for allocating IP addresses will be easier.”

Kaon Technology is the sole solution provider and the switches — the LinkSwitch 9000 with eight gigabit ethernet ports, and the six LinkSwitch 3000s with 12 fast ethernet ports are from 3Com. Implementation started in December and the council is slowly migrating servers across.

“Most servers are Compaq ProLiants with 100Mbit/s network adapter cards,” says Cebalo.” A couple of segments of the 12 were starting to get swamped with traffic, mainly due to the GIS [geographical information systems] department.”

The council is also looking at upgrading its wide area connections from 48Kbit/s DDS lines with an ISDN backup to wireless microwave links of 10Mbit/s or more.

Cebalo says the new solution also provides redundancy. “If any of the fibres are broken between the gigabit ethernet backbone and the 100Mbit/s hubs, we still have a 100Mbit/s backup path.”

He says the network upgrade including the gigabit ethernet and fast ethernet switches cost around $70,000. The council has about 400 PCs with 30 servers, 10 of which are remote.

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