Sundsvall in Sweden describes itself as the ‘little big city’, sitting between two hills on the coast north of Stockholm, it is home to around 97,000 people. The region’s municipality, Sundsvalls kommun has eight councils that are responsible for everything from schools and city planning, to health care and arts and culture. There are also nine subsidiary companies for services and facilities such as energy, water, harbour, public housing, airport and the fire department.
Employing about 10,000 people across 350 different locations, Sundsvalls kommun relies on its IT and communications infrastructure to deliver fast and efficient services. Email is at the heart of this and with around 8000 users, in a normal week the Microsoft Exchange environment has to handle over 250,000 incoming and outgoing email, even after the spam filters do their job. Add to that the internal emails and The IT department’s email database is nearing 5TB!
For Conny Hörberg, Exchange system manager at Sundsvalls kommun, this was becoming a potential problem and bottleneck. “Microsoft Exchange 2010 uses the Exchange Client Access Server (CAS) array to handle client connections, which does not provide real load balancing. And despite the spam filters that eliminated some of the strain on the email servers, we needed a more effective and reliable and solution.”
Based on research into the load balancing market and recommendation from an Exchange consultant, Conny Hörberg and his team opted to install dual LoadMaster LM2600s from Kemp Technologies. The Kemp load balancers ensure a fast response and maximum network uptime for Sundsvalls kommun’s Exchange email users, while removing congestion problems during peak times of the day. Users are automatically connected to the best performing Exchange server and if one becomes inaccessible, the load balancer will automatically re-route traffic to other functioning servers.
“The initial installation was done in less than six hours and we are now confident that our Exchange environment can cope with increasing levels of traffic, while it also makes it much easier to manage our servers,” says Hörberg. “We can take a server offline for routine updates and maintenance without users noticing anything as the load balancers simply direct traffic to the other servers automatically.”
Conny Hörberg and his IT team at Sundsvalls kommun are now looking into different web services that could benefit from load balancing and are also in the process of replacing their Microsoft ISA server with Kemp’s Edge Security Pack (ESP). ESP provides additional security features to fill the gap left by Microsoft’s decision to end-of-life its Threat Management Gateway (TMG) and to help companies protect business-critical web-facing applications.
“ESP is ideal for our Exchange environment and delivers superior protection alongside high-performance, reliable and scalable load balancing for the increasing number of servers used to support the growth in email and other Internet-facing applications,” says Conny Hörberg. “The Kemp LoadMasters and ESP are very easy to set up with use of templates so it can be done with a minimum of outside help, providing you have basic knowledge and understanding of the network end Exchange.”