School board cleans up DNS mess after amalgamation

An Ontario school board is getting its DNS in order as part of an upcoming project to move from Novell to Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

Grand Erie District School Board, located in Brantford, will host the kick-off meeting

for the project next week to transition more than 100 sites to the new platform. The board has contracted Dell Canada’s professional services arm to help with the project design.

According to Mark Osborne, Grande Erie’s supervisor of information technology infrastructure, the project will be an important step forward since the organization was created in 1998 through the amalgamation of boards in Brant County, Haldimand and Norfolk, Ont.

“”We had 47 different domains, which was sort of a nightmare to manage,”” he said. “”The question was, how do we repair this? Do we spend our time getting to where we want it or go with Microsoft Windows Server 2003? Either way we have to start from scratch.””

One of the areas where the three boards differed was on DNS architecture, Osborne said, which is why Grande Erie six months ago purchased the Adonis line of servers from BlueCat Networks.

“”We something easily configurable, that wouldn’t take a lot of time, because we have limited resources in terms of staff,”” he said. “”We wanted to build a DNS structure that was easy to manage — that didn’t need a thorough understanding of BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain).””

BlueCat, based in Richmond Hill, Ont., is trying to carve out a market niche among users with similar manageability issues, according to its president, Michael Hyatt. The company was formed approximately two years ago without the benefit of venture capital dollars, and the Adonis line was born out of the founder’s frustrations to purchase their own set of affordable network appliances.

“”We though it was some kind of conspiracy,”” said Hyatt. “”There were all these really complex boxes that required all kinds of integration services.””

Instead, Hyatt and his brother Richard began building early versions of Adonis out of standard components, keeping prices low so as to offer what Hyatt calls DNS-in-a-box.

“”What we’re offering is a semi-intelligent system,”” he said. “”It’s like PowerPoint, with the same kind of expert wizards.””

Osborne agreed, praising the products ease of configuration and reliability. “”We basically wanted a device that would help us sort of gradually move forward to the correct DNS structure that we wanted,”” he said. “”(Adonis) allowed us to take baby steps until we got to where we wanted to go.””

Grande Erie had purchased appliances in the past from McAfee and Network Appliance, Osborne added, but the board wanted to make sure whatever it purchased could plug easily into the Active Directory features offered in Windows Server 2003.

“”We don’t have to bother with them — they just run,”” he said. “”There’s a Java GUI on front end and we can set up one primary and two secondary.””

BlueCat has also found Adonis customers with Sony, AC Neilsen and Lockheed Martin, Hyatt said. Earlier this month the company announced an agreement under which Borderware would OEM the Adonis and sell it worldwide.


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