Public Works opts for optical network

A new AT&T Canada optical network will afford Public Works and Government Services Canada added redundancy and capacity without an increase in costs, according to department

officials.

The optical Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) network will be used to connect three Ottawa-area data centres and one office building, replacing the current mainframe-to-mainframe circuit connection and providing more bang for government buck, says Bob Ford, an architectural planner with Public Works’ Government Telecommunications and Informatics Services (GTIS) branch. GTIS provides IT services to federal government departments nationwide.

“”With the fibre infrastructure we’ve put into place, the ongoing monthly cost (will be) what we were paying for those circuits, plus we get all the redundancy and capacity,”” Ford says.

Dave Grixti, AT&T Canada’s public sector sales director, says the new network will give Public Works real-time connections and a break on bandwidth costs.

“”They were connected through low-speed connectivity, so it didn’t give them that true real-time backup,”” Grixti says of the mainframe-to-mainframe connections. He estimates the deployment allows for a 70-fold reduction in cost per megabit of bandwidth. “”Because it’s an optical network, additional bandwidth can be added in days instead of months.””

AT&T installed the network, which will service all Public Works employees, in 38 days this past spring. GTIS expects to have the facilities connected by July. The four and-a-half-year, $7 million contract (there is an option for an additional four years), includes ongoing management and maintenance expertise from AT&T.

AT&T had experience providing Internet services on wide area network services to Public Works, but both Grixti and GTIS officials insist the DWDM network RFP came with a blank slate, that AT&T won the contract simply because they had the best proposal.

Grixti said the project was inspired by a combination of the need for increased disaster recovery capabilities and five-nine availability post 9/11 and a desire by GTIS to consolidate their servers in the interest of efficiency.

“”What we were looking for is high availability, capacity, connectivity between our data centres,”” adds Brian Good, director of renewal projects for the network and computer services division of GTIS. “”It’s like having one data centre, but it’s spread through three buildings.””

Managing bandwidth is a high priority at PWGSC, which was among the most prominent Canadian government agencies hit by the “”I Love You”” virus two years ago. Many users were affected by the attack and were unable to do their jobs, and IT managers began looking for network solutions to protect it in the future.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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