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City of Hasselt

City of Hasselt relies on Extreme Networks

Extreme Networks

Switching to power municipal network services

Located in the countryside some 70 kilometers east of Brussels, Hasselt is home to a university and three colleges for higher professional education, which contributes to a easy-going, vibrant atmosphere in the old city center and helps create an attitude that fosters new developments and new technologies. The city's open, innovative character is also exemplified by its full-fiber network infrastructure, that is entirely based on switching solutions of Extreme Networks.

City of Hasselt

In the mid-nineties, the city of Hasselt embarked upon a major innovation project for its sprawled IT-environment which consisted of some local area networks at the main administrative sites, with ISDN dial-up lines providing connectivity for the standalone computers at the city's remote facilities such as museums, libraries and other sites. In a move to provide the foundation for reliables, integrated high-performance network communications for many years to come, the council decided to install a future-proof fiber optic infrastructure. On top of this, Extreme Networks switches were installed to support the data traffic generated by the networked servers and personal computers. Now over a decade later, much has changed in the city's network. New, far more demanding business applications have been introduced, sites and users have been added and citizens can now benefit from online access to a wide variety of municipal services and institutions. As a result, the infrastructure saw a host of upgrades and extensions in order to keep up with growing capacity, performance and security demands. Some things remained unchanged, though, like the BlackDiamond 6808 core switch was installed in 1997.

"Remarkably, the Black Diamons chassis we opted for in the nineties, continues to deliver the performance and reliability we need. It still is at the heart of our networks" says Claudine Van Beylen, director of the city's IT department.

Long-lasting Value
At the time, Extreme Switches were selected as the outcome of a European tender procedure. Key requirements were reliability, guaranteed bandwidth anf high-level security, plus a support life span of no less than seven years.

"Extreme was the only vendor who could actually deliver on all requirements" Claudine Van Beylen recalls. " The simple fact that the BlackDiamond core switch is still running not only demonstrates the flexibility and durability of the solutions of Extreme Networks, but also testifies to the long-lasting value of the upgradable security features built into the switch's Layer 3 chipsets"

Throughout the years, the gigabit core performance delivered by the Extreme switches has proved sufficient to meet the growing needs of the municipal network. Meanwhile, new Extreme Network Summit Switches were installed to provide core-to-edge connectivity for new sites and user groups.

"Our infrastructure now covers 25 sites and more than 700 users, and supports over fifty business applications, many of which are critical in terms of availablitity and response speeds, especially applications accessing the Municipal Register databases. We have never experienced bottlenecks on the network, though," says Claudine Van Beylen. "And since it is our policy to keep internet streaming such as radio and video broadcasts from the network, the current gigabit bandwidth levels will also suffice for the years to come. That's how we keep things simple and cost-efficient."

Amazingly robust performance
Recently, a new, additional datacenter was installed at one fo the council's main sites, completing the move to a fully redundant switching and computing infrastructure. Though Extreme Network products have been installed throughout the years, Mrs. Van Beylen and her team are keen to look at alternative solutions whenever new network investments are called for.

"Before deciding on the switching hardware for the new datacenter, we commissioned Black Box Network Services, our Network Services provider, to stage a proof of concept with a triple stack of Extreme'sSummit X450a switches, which they recommended as new core switching configuration for our new datacenter. We rigorously tested the resilience, performance and availability of the system while unplugging power and taking out individual switch units, forning power supplies and switch fabrics to prove their fail-over capabilities.

We were amazed to see that ping tests showed truly uninterrupted performance of the stack throughout the tests, a unique achievement for switches at this price level!"

Extreme XOS
Another benefit of the Extreme Networks switches is the XOS, Extreme Operating System, a highly available, modular software foundation based on a linux kernel. XOS provides integrated redundancy with self-healing features, effectively eliminating single points of failure. Moreover, XOS is very user-friendly, greatly adding to simplified management and easy troubleshooting. And since XOS is built into all Extreme switches is helps provide a unified, transparent view accross all Extreme products, with commands being consistent accross all Extreme switches.

Attractive TCO levels by Black Box Network Services
Zaventem based Blacks Box Network Services installed and maintains the city of Hasselt's high-end switching infrastructure. Black Box designs, installs, and maintains local national and international data networks. They also offer 24-hours maintenance cotracts, an emergency helpdesk and the option to hire their Extreme Networks experts (ENS & ENA) for short or long term project.

Claudine Van Beylen comments:
"We have entrusted Black Box Network Services with the support of our network environment. According to the maintenance agreement, their main tasks include installations, setting up VLANs, configurations, replacement and upgrades of firmware and software. Thanks to the open, simple design of the switches and flexible, standardized operating platform, Black Box is able to offer us very attractive contract fees, which helps us achieve equally attractive TCA levels".
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